Tag: Republicans


Trump is Already the Most Successful U.S. President Since Ronald Reagan: Conrad Black, National Post, Nov. 17, 2017— It is distressing to read and listen to the nonsense in the Canadian media about Donald Trump.

Trump's Unsung Success in the Middle East: David P. Goldman, PJ Media, Nov. 14, 2017— President Trump's Middle East policy is simple: Back our friends and scare the hell out of our enemies, and negotiate where possible with our competitors like Russia and China.

Trump, One Year After the Election: Achievements and Failures: Prof. Eytan Gilboa, BESA, Nov. 20, 2017— Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential elections held a year ago surprised veteran politicians, renowned election experts, prominent journalists, seasoned commentators, and senior academicians.

The GOP Better Wake Up to the Lessons of this Election: Salena Zito, New York Post, Nov. 11, 2017— A Republican friend of mine is a suburban businessman who dutifully votes in every election, always straight party.


On Topic Links


The Outlines of Trump’s Asia Strategy: Daniel Blumenthal, American Interest, Nov. 17, 2017

Trump: No More Nation-Building Abroad: Dr. Jiri and Leni Valenta, BESA, Oct. 17, 2017

Border Walls Are All the Rage Worldwide Because They Work: Michel Gurfinkiel, PJ Media, Nov. 7, 2017

Hillary Had to Know all About the Dossier: Douglas E. Schoen and Andrew Stein, New York Post, Oct. 27, 2017






Conrad Black

National Post, Nov. 17, 2017


It is distressing to read and listen to the nonsense in the Canadian media about Donald Trump. It is too early to predict whether he will be a successful president or not. But no one relying on the Canadian media would be aware that he has more than doubled the economic growth rate, reduced illegal immigration by about 80 per cent, withdrawn from the insane Paris Climate accord, helped add trillions to U.S. stock market values, created nearly two million new jobs, led the rout of ISIL, and gained full Chinese adherence to the unacceptability of North Korean nuclear military capability. He will probably pass the greatest tax cuts and reforms since Reagan, if not Lyndon Johnson, by Christmas, and may throw out the most unpopular feature of Obamacare, the coercive mandate, with it.


He can be a tiresome and implausible public figure at times, and the reservations widely held about him, in the United States and elsewhere, are understandable and not unfounded. He is, however, the most effective U.S. president since Reagan. In the 20 pre-Trump years, over $5 trillion and scores of thousands of American casualties were squandered in Middle East wars (while most Iraqis were handed over to Iranian influence), an immense humanitarian refugee tragedy was provoked, along with the greatest world economic crisis since the 1930s, American GDP per capita growth and capital investment shrunk by 75 per cent, the work force lost over 15 million people, millions of unskilled, illegal migrants were admitted, and the national debt of 233 years of American independence more than doubled in the last seven years of Obama. Those 20 years were the only time of absolute decline in American history, as well as a period of prolonged economic stagnation. Americans, unlike the older great nations of Europe and the Far East, have never experienced such setbacks and stagnation, and don’t like or accept them. It was in these circumstances that this unusual president was elected.


In addition to these American problems, there is the international phenomenon of ever-widening disparity of wealth and income, with no obvious solution — taking money from people who have earned it and giving it to those who haven’t will just drive out the high economic achievers who provide most of the personal income tax revenue already. And there is the problem that, for the first time, higher technology produces unemployment rather than employment, and increased productivity, unlike in the Reagan years, has not, until Trump was elected, led to job creation.


In many advanced democratic countries, the political systems have begun to fragment. The German Social Democrats have half-disintegrated, the British Labour Party has been taken over by outright Marxists, France has practically obliterated its traditional parties except for the residue of the Gaullists, and in elections where only 30 per cent of eligible voters voted, the French handed the legislature to a party that was only invented, out of whole cloth, 15 months ago. The Austrian and Czech electorates have divided their support among a variety of parties and elevated, as France has, men in their thirties, who could be young nephews of Justin Trudeau. It was in these circumstances that Hillary Clinton narrowly kept her Democratic Party out of the hands of Senator Bernie Sanders and his socialist option, and Donald Trump, as he smashed the Bush-McCain-Romney tweedle-dee near-Democrats, also defeated the Ted Cruz far-right Republicans.


The Canadian media has almost uniformly bought into the line of the Trump-hating national U.S. media, that he is already a failed and probably illegitimate president. I was on CTV with my friend Evan Solomon about 10 days ago, and the preceding commentators claimed that “the noose is tightening around (Trump’s) neck,” and another said that it all “reminded (him) of Nixon,” as if Trump were about be convicted of “high crimes and misdemeanours.” The stupidest of these inescapable divinations of impeachable skullduggery I have seen is Scott Gilmore’s Maclean’s piece of Nov. 11, titled “Donald Trump; Putin’s Manchurian Idiot,” though he in fact excuses Trump from the charge of being a Manchurian candidate. Gilmore baldly states that there was heavy collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, though Trump, in his simplicity may not have known of it. The only person in American history elected president who has made billions of dollars and had never sought or held a public office, elected or otherwise, or a high military position, is dismissed as an imbecile who has no concept of what forces, treasonous as they obviously were, propelled him to his great office.


One of Canada’s most eminent emeritus journalistic personalities approvingly just sent me a really insane piece from the droolingly Americophobic (U.K.) Guardian, fortunately on the verge of bankruptcy and reduced to a pitiful variation of crowd-funding, which asserts that Putin has manipulated the entire American political system for many years. This astounding surge of Russia to the status of a bogeyman greater than it ever enjoyed in the febrile ravings of Joseph R. McCarthy is piquant. Russia is an economic basketcase with a GDP smaller than Canada’s though it has more than four times our population. It is a geographically important country and a distinguished culture but has no durable political institutions, has never had a day of good government by Western standards, and could be bankrupted and swept out of the seas and skies of the world by the United States in a couple of weeks. The only danger it presents to America is that, if the Americans rebuff Russia too robustly, it will drive them into the arms of the Iranians and Chinese in a way that would be counter-productive to the U.S. national interest.


Canadians of all people should recognize that what is really going on in the United States is the tawdriest political charade in the country’s history. The Clinton campaign commissioned, through intermediaries, a dossier of salacious gossip and outright fabrications about Trump, from unidentified, unverifiable Kremlin sources, desperately shopped it to the U.S. media (remember the “Golden Shower” of Trump-synchronized urinating prostitutes in a Moscow hotel?), and managed to hand off the dossier to the FBI, politicizing that organization. Trump fired the FBI director, James Comey, who, in revenge, removed a government document, a much contested memo to himself about a conversation with the president, to force the appointment of a special counsel, who turned out to be none other than Comey’s chum and mentor and preceding FBI director, Robert Mueller…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]





David P. Goldman

PJ Media, Nov. 14, 2017


President Trump's Middle East policy is simple: Back our friends and scare the hell out of our enemies, and negotiate where possible with our competitors like Russia and China. By and large it's working, unlike the catastrophically failed polices of the previous two administrations. Trump did what he said he would do and succeeded. You wouldn't know that from the #fakenews media.


Start with Israel: The Muslim strategy to destroy Israel hasn't envisioned war–not at least since 1973–because Israel in all cases would win. Instead, the objective is to ring Israel with missiles and force Israel to retaliate against missile attacks in such a way that the "international community" would respond by imposing a "settlement" on Israel that would leave Israel vulnerable to further missiles attacks, and so forth. This is stated explicitly by Palestinian strategists cited by Haviv Rettig Gur in The Times of Israel.


George W. Bush and Obama gave aid and comfort to the encircle-and-strangle strategy by tying Israel's hands. Then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wouldn't let Olmert attack Hezbollah with full force in 2006. Rice thinks the Palestinian movement is a branch of the U.S. civil rights movement (if you don't believe that characterization, read her book "Democracy," which I will review for Claremont Review of Books). Obama sandbagged Israel during the 2014 Gaza rocket attacks, suspending delivery of Hellfire missiles to the Jewish State. Israel is the only country in the world that embeds human rights lawyers in every infantry company to make sure that its soldiers keep collateral damage to a minimum.


Hezbollah, Iran's Lebanese militia, has 150,000 rockets aimed at Israel, and many of them can hit any target in the country. In the case of a major rocket attack from Hezbollah against Israel, military logic dictates the preemptive neutralization of rocket launchers embedded in civilian populations–what an Israeli strategist close to the PM described to me as "Dresden." There would be tens of thousands of civilian casualties. Trump will not tie Israel's hands in the case of attack, and will not interfere with Israel's ability to defend herself. That makes Israel's deterrent against Iran credible.


Hillary Clinton insisted that the "technology of war," in particular the rockets ringing Israel, would force Israel to accept a phony peace agreement whose main effect would be to bring the rocket launchers closer to Israel. The photograph below shows the runways and main terminal building of Israel's international airport from an Arab village in Judea: Hand this over to the Palestinians and primitive short-range missiles can shut down the Israel economy. There's an easy way to stop the rockets, which is to kill the people who shoot them. That might mean killing the human shields whom the cowardly terrorists put in front of the rockets, but under international law, a country acting in self-defense has every right to kill civilians. For that reason alone, anyone who claims to be a friend of Israel must support Trump against the alternative. One can criticize Trump all day with justification, but the existential issue of Israel's survival requires Jews to support him. Jewish never-Trumpers are infected with what our rabbis of antiquity called "baseless hatred."


The second big issue is Saudi Arabia, which competed with Iran for decades as the biggest funder of terrorists and religious extremists. After Trump's March 2017 trip to Saudi Arabia, where he read the riot act to assembled Arab leaders, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince has centralized control of the government and seized hundreds of billions of dollars of royal family assets. The $800 billion of royal family wealth targeted is larger than the national reserves of the kingdom. As I wrote in Asia Times last week, Saudi Arabia has gotten its first real government, as opposed to the family regime that allowed every crazy cousin to write checks to terrorists. Of course, the kingdom well might get its second, third and fourth real government in short order if Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman fails. But the de facto coup is a huge blow to Sunni jihadism and a victory for American policy.


Prince Mohammed and his father King Salman had visited Moscow in late September, and the Russian and Chinese press express guarded optimism about the regime change (see the cited Asia Times article). Russia and China have a great deal to fear from Sunni jihadists (virtually all their Muslim citizens are Sunni) and a Saudi ruler willing to close the tap is good for them. As I wrote, its win-win-win-win for the U.S., Russia, China and Israel. That ought to scare the Persians plenty. The Saudis get very bad press for chopping up the Houthi-led tribes in Yemen, Iran's allies. They are making a horrible example of the Houthi for the edification of Iran. That is disgusting, to be sure, but that's the way things are done in that part of the world. The Assad government in Syria did much worse, deliberately bombing civilians to drive out the Sunni majority in order to replace it with Shi'ite colonists.


The Saudis don't have much of an army, and their air force depends on Pakistani mercenaries, but they do have nearly 300 fourth-generation aircraft (F-15's, Eurofighters, and Tornadoes) as well as a huge stock of Chinese-made medium range missiles. They can hire Pakistanis or Egyptians to fly them if necessary. Iran has tough soldiers but no air force to speak of. If it comes to war (which it shouldn't) between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Iran will suffer badly. A dozen power plants provide more than half the country's electricity, for example, and could not be defended in case of war. There isn't much to do about Iran now that its economic ties point eastwards to China, except to terrify the Tehran mullahs. That's old-fashioned balance of terror–not my favorite way of doing things, but a policy that worked reasonably well during the Cold War. It's easy to talk about tearing up the Iran nuclear agreement–but now there are two rail lines linking Iran to China, and the West's influence in the region has vastly diminished. Unfortunately, grand gestures may not bring grand results, and the U.S. has to play tought and sometimes dirty…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    





Prof. Eytan Gilboa

BESA, Nov. 20, 2017


Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential elections held a year ago surprised veteran politicians, renowned election experts, prominent journalists, seasoned commentators, and senior academicians. Few believed that a real estate tycoon lacking political or public experience and exhibiting an unruly and excitable style could be elected to one of the world’s most important positions. Experts failed to grasp the degree of alienation and revulsion felt by voters in the face of the failing conduct of Washington politicians.


After Trump entered the White House, many believed or at least hoped that the sheer weight of the position and the responsibility would render his conduct more presidential, but this did not happen. Personality changes are not easily made, especially at an advanced age. Trump is one of the strangest presidents in American history. He is blunt and sometimes rude; he likes to confront and humiliate both individuals and whole sectors; he is temperamental, at times to an extreme; and he takes almost everything personally. Many share the sense that he sees himself and his job as nothing more than as host of a reality show – a sequel of sorts to “The Apprentice,” a program he hosted successfully in the past.


At times, it seems Trump is driven solely by the desire to systematically undo the legacy of his predecessor, Barack Obama – its good parts as well as its bad. Whether or not that was his original intent, he frequently changes his mind and sometimes contradicts himself. Trump was unable to create a functioning system in the White House, and broke records in terms of bizarre appointments and quick layoffs. For almost the entire first year of his term, complete chaos ruled in the White House. Within a few months, he had fired or forced the resignation of senior officials and confidants. They included his political adviser, widely considered the architect of his victory, Steve Bannon; White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer; his replacement, Anthony Scaramucci; White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus; and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.


Trump broke many conventions. He was the Republican Party’s nominee, but some of its leaders viewed him as a foreign element, criticized his style, and objected to his positions on important domestic and foreign issues. Those within the party who have been opposed to Trump included John McCain (the Republican presidential candidate against Obama in the 2008 elections), Senators Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and former President George W. Bush. Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who was Trump’s confidant and candidate for secretary of state, described the president as unstable. He said Trump has turned the White House into “an adult day care center,” and suggests that he is a dangerous man on the path to bringing about World War III.


From the onset of his term, Trump has struggled with the authorities and the media. He condemned judges who canceled his immigration restrictions, dismissed FBI Director James Comey on the grounds that he had been negligent in the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation, and nearly fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions for not rising enough to his defense on the “Russiagate” investigation. He also confronted Congress for rejecting his efforts to cancel Obamacare and to pass laws he advocated. Trump also conducted an unprecedented campaign against the media, both print and electronic, which he accused of disseminating “fake news” about his conduct and policies. Indeed, the media, especially east coast liberal outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, MSNBC, and CNN did attack him with a fair amount of bias, but his retorts went far beyond focused, substantive responses. He used his Twitter account to lash out against his rivals both domestically and abroad. Never has there been an American president who acted in such a way, with all attempts to reduce or moderate his tweets coming to nothing.


In one area – a very important area to him and to the public – he has succeeded greatly. The US economy is flourishing, showing mostly positive data: growth reached 2.4%, and industrial productivity went up about 3%. Wall Street investments are up almost a third. At the same time, unemployment fell to 4.3% and inflation to 1.6%. Trump also blocked the transfer of whole factories from the US to Mexico. These results were not, of course, achieved in a week or a month, and some are the product of Obama’s economic policies. Still, it seems that the aura of Trump as a successful businessman has contributed to the flourishing of the economy…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]                




Salena Zito

New York Post, Nov. 11, 2017


A Republican friend of mine is a suburban businessman who dutifully votes in every election, always straight party. His best friend is a rabbi, a respected member of the community and a progressive liberal. On Tuesday the rabbi stood in line to vote for a new governor at 6:50 a.m. in the pouring rain. The Republican? He made his way to the polls eventually, five minutes before they closed.


While both Virginians cast votes (and didn’t want their names used in this article), the rabbi’s enthusiasm represents the problem Republicans are facing right now. Many Democrats are energized to vote against Donald Trump — and on the first Election Day since the president was inaugurated, they voted in droves. Despite all the polls that showed the two candidates for Virginia governor were neck and neck, Ralph Northam clobbered his Republican opponent Ed Gillespie by 300,000 votes. Northam also won 600,000 more votes than his party’s gubernatorial candidate in 2009. “The Democrats finally woke up. Last year we were complacent, and we didn’t have a great motivator. Now we do,” said Dane Strother, a Democratic strategist and Virginian. Strother said this is no different from when highly motivated Republicans showed up to vote against President Barack Obama in the 2010 and 2014 midterms, bringing independents and moderate Republicans with them. Even though Gillespie played down his endorsement from Trump, he lost because of his association with the president. “I’d argue that the Trump coalition didn’t fall apart, it’s still intact,” Strother said.


But now there is a large number of “motivated people who didn’t vote for Trump” ready “to make their mark.” Freed from the burden of the uninspiring and controversial candidacy of Hillary Clinton, Democrats were finally able to vote for a person who is low-drama and likeable. Northam is a nice, pragmatic moderate (he voted for George W. Bush not once but twice) who talks with a twang. The newly elected governor is the first model for a successful Democratic candidate in the Trump age, and if others like him run for office, Republican majorities in congress and state legislative bodies across the country could be in jeopardy in the 2018 midterms.


All 435 congressional House seats are up for reelection next year and Democrats need just 24 seats to win back the majority. “Fear is a much greater motivator than love,” said Strother, adding that Trump stokes fear among Democrats. The effect was seen across the country as Democrats performed well in Washington state, Westchester and Nassau counties, and in New Jersey where Democrat Phil Murphy defeated a Republican to take the governor’s seat. In Virginia, the Democrats won for a few reasons, but none of them were to do with the national party apparatus. Not only did Northam beat Republican Gillespie, he triumphed over former Virginia congressman Tom Perriello, a strident progressive who enjoyed the support of both Obama and liberal icon Bernie Sanders, in the primaries. Perriello was set to be a progressive standard bearer for the Democrats in the first big post-Trump statewide election, but his radical platform flatlined. Northam handily beat Perriello by over 10 percentage points…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]



On Topic Links


The Outlines of Trump’s Asia Strategy: Daniel Blumenthal, American Interest, Nov. 17, 2017—During its long and eventful trip, the Trump Administration laid down important markers as it fashions its strategic approach to Asia.

Trump: No More Nation-Building Abroad: Dr. Jiri and Leni Valenta, BESA, Oct. 17, 2017—On September 27, 2017, during a visit to Kabul, US Defense Secretary James Mattis – having escaped being targeted by insurgents during the visit – was unambiguous about the challenges the US faces in Afghanistan. Those challenges are serious: the Taliban now controls 40% of Afghanistan and a third of its population.

Border Walls Are All the Rage Worldwide Because They Work: Michel Gurfinkiel, PJ Media, Nov. 7, 2017—One may support or oppose the Trump administration's grand design in terms of home security: the building, or the "updating," of a 3200-kilometer barrier between the United States and Mexico. One cannot deny, however, that such structures – hermetic and heavily monitored separations, instead of merely classic borders – are quite common today.

Hillary Had to Know all About the Dossier: Douglas E. Schoen and Andrew Stein, New York Post, Oct. 27, 2017—This week, the news broke that Marc Elias, general counsel to Hillary for America and a partner at the law firm Perkins Coie, hired the research firm Fusion GPS to commission the infamous Steele Dossier on President Trump.








The Revenge of Turkey’s Erdogan: Wall Street Journal, July 17, 2016— If it did nothing else, Friday’s failed coup in Turkey proved the adage that even paranoids can have real enemies.

The Coup Failed in Turkey Because Mutineers Didn’t Capture the King: Matthew Fisher, National Post, July 17, 2016 — The astonishing events that gripped Turkey and fascinated the world Friday night had not been expected.

Best Way of Coping with Trauma of Terrorism is to Imitate the Israelis: Christie Blatchford, National Post, July 15, 2016— It’s going to be a hard sell in a time where trauma is expected…

How the Republican and Democratic Platforms Differ on Israel: Armin Rosen, Tablet, July 14, 2016—The Republican platform’s language relating to Israel was adopted by the party’s platform committee on July 12.


On Topic Links


RNC Supports Israel (Video): Youtube, July 13, 2016

Erdogan ‘Evaded Death by Minutes: Josie Ensor, Telegraph, July 18, 2016

Erdogan Blames Former Military Attaché to Israel and Muslim Peace Advocate for Coup Attempt: Jewish Press, July 16, 2015

GOP Convention Promises Delegate Drama, Israel Dissonance, and Guns: Eric Cortellessa, Times of Israel, July 18, 2016






                    Wall Street Journal, July 17, 2016              


If it did nothing else, Friday’s failed coup in Turkey proved the adage that even paranoids can have real enemies. In the 15 years that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dominated Turkish politics, he has pursued vendettas against military officers, journalists, police, social activists, Kurdish opposition figures and fellow-travelling Islamists, among others. Now it turns out there was a fifth column against him, and the irony is that its failure may accelerate his march to Putin-like authoritarian power.

All of Turkey’s opposition parties joined Mr. Erdogan in denouncing the Keystone coup, and rightly so. Mr. Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) have been consistent winners at the ballot box, most recently in November’s elections. Most Turks don’t want to return to the days when the military ran a self-dealing “deep state” that routinely overthrew elected governments.


The coup threatened Turkish stability at a dangerous moment. Turkey is already suffering from a slowing economy and accelerating attacks by Islamic State. The Turkish army is battling Kurdish guerrillas in the country’s southeast, and the air force has been in a face-off with Russia over the latter’s violations of Turkish airspace. Some 2.5 million refugees from Syria have flooded the country, thousands of whom go begging in the streets. Had the plotters succeeded, they would have had to use violence to suppress the millions of Turks who would have rallied against them. Unlike in Egypt, where then-defense minister  Abdel Fattah Al Sisi took power from elected President  Mohammed Morsi in 2013, in Turkey the crowd was not with the coup.


Nor were the chief of staff and other senior Turkish commanders who could have resisted with garrisons loyal to Mr. Erdogan. Even the President’s most vehement critics couldn’t have relished a civil war. A broken Turkey would have extended the chaos of Syria even closer to Europe and given Islamic State and other jihadists the opportunity to exploit it.


The U.S. conducts many of its operations against Islamic State from the Turkish air base at Incirlik, where some 1,500 U.S. service members are stationed. At this writing Turkey has closed airspace over the base and shut off external power because some of the coup plotters seem to have been stationed there. When those operations might resume is uncertain, but at least the U.S. won’t have to evacuate Incirlik in emergency conditions.


But if Turkey has avoided the worst, it still faces what could be a bitter reckoning. Mr. Erdogan wasted no time blaming the coup on followers of his erstwhile ally, exiled imam Fethullah Gulen, and demanding his extradition from the U.S. Mr. Gulen, who teaches a mystical form of Islam, broke with Mr. Erdogan over his increasingly autocratic ways. The Obama Administration has indicated it will consider the extradition request, and Mr. Erdogan will doubtless play Incirlik and cooperation against Islamic State as cards to get him back.


But Mr. Gulen and his followers adamantly deny participation in the coup. Without solid evidence of his direct involvement, it would be dishonorable and shortsighted for the U.S. to offer what would amount to a blood sacrifice to Mr. Erdogan’s rage. If Turkey threatens to evict the U.S. from Incirlik, the Administration should indicate a willingness to relocate the base in the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Erbil.


As worrying is Mr. Erdogan’s round-up of thousands of opponents in what looks like it could become a wholesale political purge. So far some 2,800 officers and soldiers have been arrested, including nearly 40 generals. That may be necessary for restoring democratic rule, but it’s hard to make that case about the immediate dismissal of 2,745 judges, including two members of the Constitutional Court. It’s worth wondering if their names were already on a list before the coup gave Mr. Erdogan a pretext to dismiss them.


U.S. policy toward Turkey should be to support the principle of democratic rule in a stable and cohesive state. The failure of the coup staved off one threat to Turkish stability. What remains to be seen is whether Mr. Erdogan’s revenge does even graver damage to Turkey’s hopes for decent self-government and further destabilizes the world’s most dangerous region.                                                       





THE COUP FAILED IN TURKEY BECAUSE                                                          

MUTINEERS DIDN’T CAPTURE THE KING                                                                                      

Matthew Fisher                                                                                          

National Post, July 17, 2016


The astonishing events that gripped Turkey and fascinated the world Friday night had not been expected. Turkey had been in turmoil and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was at the centre of every drama. But the main international focus lately has been on how the country was reeling from a string of terrorist bombings by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an increasingly bloody civil war against Kurds in the southeast, how to manage the economic and social consequences of playing reluctant host to more than 3 million refugees from Syria and the political whirlwind created by the arrival in Europe of so many refugees and migrants who were using Turkey as their bridge to the West.


The economy had collapsed when Erdogan became prime minister at the beginning of 2003. His top priority at the time was to join the European Union. The International Monetary Fund gave $30 billion on fairly generous terms.  As Turkey quickly became the darling of western investors, Erdogan undertook massive infrastructure programs. Compulsory schooling was raised from Grade 5 to Grade 12 and more university places were created. Relations with the large, restive Kurdish minority were greatly improved. GDP soared.


So, how did it come to this? Coups and botched coups do not happen in a vacuum. One of Erdogan’s early disappointments was the EU’s frosty reaction to his overtures to let Turkey join their club. Over time his government became beset by crony capitalism and corruption allegations. More recently, the Arab Spring and ISIL caused tumult along the country’s southern border and frayed relations with NATO and with Russia.


Since Erdogan was first elected as mayor of Istanbul in 1994, he has always had an authoritarian streak and a strong Islamist bent. That has never pleased the military, which regards defending secularism as a sacred national duty. Unable to get close to realizing his dream of Turkish membership in the EU, and with an increasingly difficult domestic situation complicated by the tragedies in Iraq and Syria, the president has lashed out at his critics, jailing some and dismissing others. In an about-face that the masses and the generals supported, he abruptly stopped the peace process with the Kurds after a terrorist attack. He unleashed the military on the Kurds, triggering a new round of violence that has killed 600 security forces and even more civilians.


At the same time, newspapers and television station that opposed Erdogan were closed or new managers were brought in. Nearly 1,000 journalists and editors lost their jobs. Users of social media who criticized the president or the government landed in court. Isolated from the country’s intellectual, business and military establishments, Erdogan came to depend even more heavily on religiously conservative Turks for support… Protests against Erdogan’s rule grew. But except for one hiccup early last year, he kept winning elections. Although the West has strongly opposed his crackdown and has been uneasy about his Islamist power base, it had no choice but to oppose the coup that was launched against him.


The putsch failed for many reasons. First among them was that the mutineers did not capture the king or seize control of media outlets. Crucially, they were also unable to convince many of the senior army leadership to go along. What their role really was behind closed doors is not yet clear but by Sunday the Turkish Adadolu Agency was reporting that 70 of Turkey’s approximately 350 generals and admirals have been arrested. This suggests the plot was wider than originally suspected and that there are deep divisions within the armed forces.


The most obvious reason that those leading the revolt failed was because Erdogan was free and able to use a cell phone app to call his followers into the street where they dared the troops to kill them. When many of the soldiers hesitated, the coup was finished. Within hours, the repercussions began. As happened during Egypt’s drama in Tahir Square and other offshoots of the short-lived Arab Spring, the shortcoming of most westerners trying to understand the deep fissures in Turkish society is that they have been drawn to the urban elites who want more social and cultural freedom. Not less.


In so doing foreigners have ignored the opinions of those who inhabit Istanbul’s poorer quarters and the tens of millions of poor Turks who live far from the big cities and the tourist resorts that welcome huge numbers of tourists who make locals unhappy by drinking, partying and wearing bikinis on the beaches. Erdogan’s backers do not regard such freedoms as being central to their well-being. They remember that their economic circumstances improved under Erdogan. They regard him as their only champion. As they see it, he still is.                                                           




BEST WAY OF COPING WITH TRAUMA OF TERRORISM                                                   

IS TO IMITATE THE ISRAELIS                                                                                        

Christie Blatchford                                                                                                         

National Post, July 15, 2016


It’s going to be a hard sell in a time where trauma is expected, victims revered and when the first thing out of the mouth of every statesman, television talking head and person on Twitter is a version of, “My heart goes out to…,” but a little of the old “accommodation effect” would go a long way right now. It’s an adaptive behaviour, or in the modern parlance, a way of coping. It means that as traumatic events such as the latest terror attack in Nice, France, occur more often, people get used to them such that the amount of stress actually decreases – if, that is, the targeted people and society are reasonably resilient.


Accommodation was first noticed in the British during the German blitz of London, again in Israel during the first Gulf War of 1991 and again in Israel during the bloody second Palestinian Intifada, from September of 2000 to the beginning of 2005. In a 2011 scholarly paper entitled Living with terror, not Living in Terror, political science professor Dov Waxman of Northeastern University in Boston examined the effects of repeated terrorist attacks on Israelis.


During the second Intifada, more than 1,000 Israelis were killed, most of them civilians who died in suicide attacks, many going about their ordinary business in places like cafés, outdoor markets and on public buses. In fact, 19 months into the second Intifada, an astonishing 44.4 per cent of the population had either been a victim of a suicide attack, had friends or relatives who were victims, or knew someone who had survived an attack. By comparison, France has had three major terrorist attacks in about 18 months; in 2002 alone, there were 53 suicide attacks in Israel.


As Waxman said, “Suicide terrorism can be particularly effective in terrifying people because it projects an aura of fanaticism, which makes the threat of future attacks seem more likely.” Add to that the fact that Israelis have long feared terrorism with good reason. “No country has endured more acts of terrorism over a prolonged period than Israel,” Waxman said. “From before the state was established in 1948 and ever since then, Israelis have been the targets of terrorist attacks, both within Israel and around the world.” (Indeed, modern terrorism is inextricably linked to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, as Arab militant groups pioneered new tactics and carried out some of the most notorious attacks.)


Waxman found that more than a third of Israelis who participated in a major psychological study reported at least one traumatic stress-related symptom. It’s similar to the number reported by Americans after the 9/11 terror attacks, though far fewer of them were directly exposed. Interestingly, that study found that those who are actually injured in such an attack are “no more likely to suffer from psychological disorders than a person whose only connection to the attack was seeing it on television. “The extensive media coverage of terrorist attacks can therefore seriously harm people’s psychological well-being.”


But, as another study in 2010 showed, the Palestinian terror attacks of the second Intifada had a very limited – negligible — effect on the overall happiness of Israelis. That suggests, Waxman said, “that the psychological effects of terrorism should not be overstated. While they can be severe, they are generally short-lived.” Most Israelis recovered well, he found. Take the worst month of the Intifada, March of 2002. “In one week alone,” Waxman said, “Palestinian suicide bombers struck at a restaurant in Haifa, a Jerusalem supermarket, a café in Tel Aviv, and a hotel in Neyanya, the latter during a meal for the Jewish holiday of Passover.” The last attack alone killed 30 and wounded more than 140 others.


Yet, “Instead of panic and public hysteria, there was stoicism and fortitude.” Though they were afraid and under stress, Israelis kept going to cafés (though now they sat far from the entrances where suiciders might blow themselves up) and those who used buses kept on doing it. “When one considers the huge toll in Israeli lives that Palestinian terrorism during the second Infada took” (in more than 13,000 attacks, 1,030 were killed and 5,788 injured or about 0.1 per cent of the population), “the ability of Israeli society to cope … is quite remarkable.” Waxman identified three key factors: acclimatization to terrorism; declining media attention as attacks became chronic; and growing social resilience…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]








Armin Rosen                

                                                 Tablet, July 14, 2016


The Republican platform’s language relating to Israel was adopted by the party’s platform committee on July 12. In past elections, the official Republican and Democratic positions on Israel and the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were largely identical, signaling the remarkable success of pro-Israel organizations and brass from both parties in ensuring that one of the most emotional topics in international affairs wouldn’t become a partisan issue in the U.S. But that bipartisan consensus is fraying, at least as far as the parties’ official positions go.


The Republican platform language—touted by presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and others as the most pro-Israel “of all time”—clearly diverges from its Democratic counterpart. The Democratic platform registered the party’s opposition the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement; the Republican platform decries it as one of several “alternative forms of warfare” being waged against the Jewish state. The Republican platform “reject[s] the false notion that Israel is an occupier;” no similar statement appears in the Democratic platform, and the party considered naming Israel as an occupying power in their own platform. The Republicans will seek to “thwart actions that are intended to limit commercial relations with Israel, or persons or entities doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territories,” a dig at efforts to sanction or limit trade related to Israeli enterprises in the West Bank or Golan Heights, like the EU’s special labeling of settlement products earlier this year. The Democratic platform opposes BDS, but makes no mention of efforts only targeting lands outside of Israel’s internationally recognized territory.


Unlike the Democratic platform, the Republican platform actively opposes “measures intended to impose an agreement or to dictate borders or other terms,” and “call[s] for the immediate termination of all U.S. funding of any entity that attempts to do so”—a provision likely referring to the possibility of the UN Security Council passing a resolution outlining a final status outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that the Obama administration has reportedly considered backing over the years. The Democratic platform includes no such language. Most notably, the Republican platform contains no reference to the establishment of a Palestinian state, although it affirms that the U.S. “seeks to assist in the establishment of comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, to be negotiated among those living in the region.” The Democrats, meanwhile, urge that “Palestinians should be free to govern themselves in their own viable state, in peace and dignity.”


For Republicans, the differences between the platforms honestly and accurately reflects what the two parties believe about Israel and its conflict with the Palestinians. This belief that there exists a tangible difference of opinion between the parties comes into clearer focus when looking at the architects of the Republican platform language. During a speech to the Republican platform committee on July 12, committee member Alan Clemmons, a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, exhorted his colleagues to “send a message to the tens of millions of pro-Israel voters who must see that our party stands on faith and principle.” He added that Republicans’ “support for Israel’s well-being is of paramount concern and will not be sold out or dumbed down for the sake of petty interest, ever again.”


Jeff Ballabon, an activist and chairman of the Iron Dome Alliance who was involved in advocating for the platform’s current Israel-related language, told Tablet: “One party is debating whether or not it’s politically expedient to call out Israel for its oppression and occupation. The other is saying what are you talking about, there is no occupation? The difference couldn’t be more stark.”


As Ballabon interprets it, the Republican platform backs Israeli territorial rights in the West Bank, and even “goes beyond stating the obvious that Judea and Samaria are properly Jewish territories” since it rejects the notion of an Israeli occupation, while also making no distinction between the BDS that targets the entirety of Israeli-controlled territory, and BDS that only targets the areas outside Israel’s internationally-recognized borders. This interpretation is consistent with Clemmons’ speech, which was greeted with a standing ovation. “The false notion that the Jewish state is an occupier is an anti-Semitic attack on israel’s legitimacy,” Clemmons said. “It is impossible for the Jew to be an occupier in his own ancestral homeland, a region that his been known as Judea since time immemorial.”


The Republican platform arguably goes beyond Israel’s own policies, too: Israel has not annexed the West Bank and does not consider it to be part of its national territory. It also applies military law in the West Bank in a way consistent with the legal responsibilities of an occupying power, rather than a fully recognized sovereign authority. For Ballabon, Israel’s equivocal official position on the status of the West Bank is all the more reason for the Republicans to back Israeli sovereignty over the territory: “Many positions are taken by the Israeli government diplomatically or legally that are in response to pressures from the outside,” he said. “The point here is to remove that kind of pressure on israel that distorts Israeli decision making and Israeli independence and sovereignty through coercion.”


It’s unclear whether the Trump campaign has the same view of the platform’s meaning as Ballabon and Clemmons do. A statement published on Medium by Jason Greenblatt, the Trump Organization’s general counsel and one of the Trump campaign’s two advisers on Israel-related matters, lauded the platform language, writing that the campaign was “pleased that the committee has recognized that BDS is a modern manifestation of anti-Semitism.” But the Medium statement made no mention of the language rejecting claims that Israel is an occupier. Even so, both Greenblatt and David M. Friedman, a bankruptcy attorney and Trump’s other top Israel adviser, were involved in drafting and vetting the platform language. “Jason Greenblatt and I worked with the committee and others to finalize and support the language in the platform,” Friedman told Tablet by email.


Tacking to the right of the Democrats on Israel could turn out to be smart politics for the Republicans: Some 70 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Israel, and the relative lack of debate over Israel during the drafting of the Republican platform is in contrast to the Democratic side, where the party’s approach to Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the subject of hours’ worth of passionate discussion. Yet the contrast in the two platforms highlights how the parties are drifting apart on Israel—and how they might be driving a political divide over something that used to be one of the few consensus issues in American politics. “There’s an illusion that the parties are in lockstep,” Ballabon said, “and they’re very far from being in lockstep.”




On Topic Links


RNC Supports Israel (Video): Youtube, July 13, 2016 —The Republican National Platform Committee unanimously adopted the pro-Israel Amendment presented by South Carolina delegate Alan Clemmons.

Erdogan ‘Evaded Death by Minutes: Josie Ensor, Telegraph, July 18, 2016—It had been planned for weeks, but in the end, even the coup plotters were taken by surprise.

Erdogan Blames Former Military Attaché to Israel and Muslim Peace Advocate for Coup Attempt: Jewish Press, July 16, 2015 —One of the senior military officials mentioned in the flurry of accusations in Turkey over who exactly was responsible for the failed coup attempt Friday night was former air force commander Akin Ozturk, who was the Turkish Military attaché to Israel between 1996 and 1998.

GOP Convention Promises Delegate Drama, Israel Dissonance, and Guns: Eric Cortellessa, Times of Israel, July 18, 2016—A little more than a year ago, when Donald Trump descended an escalator at Trump Tower to announce his presidential bid, hardly anyone believed it was the start of a successful quest to become the Republican Party’s nominee. But this week, that’s exactly what it will officially turn out to be.






National Jewish Democratic Council Disappointed in Republican Ron Paul Tribute

A Blog by Lawrence Solomon,
Fellow, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research



The National Jewish Democratic Council is disappointed that the Republicans will be giving Ron Paul a tribute at the Republican National Convention in Tampa this week. I’m disappointed that the Republicans aren’t honouring Paul to an even greater extent, and that American Jewish Democrats are so blindly partisan that they fail to understand who Israel’s true friends are.


Jews are right to have concerns over anti-Semitic comments attributed to Paul that appeared in his investment newsletter in the 1990s. But Paul claims he didn't write those comments and disavows them. In a spirit of generosity, I believe we should take Paul at his word. Even if he was once an anti-Semite, and has now changed, why hold that against him?

The main criticism of Paul by Jews today is his attitude toward Israel. But is his attitude truly hostile, as Paul critics contend?


“I do not believe we should be Israel’s master but, rather, her friend,” Paul told Haaretz last December. “We should not be dictating her policies and announcing her negotiating positions before talks with her neighbors have even begun.”


Had Eisenhower, Johnson and Nixon taken this Ron Paul approach, Israel wouldn’t have had to return territory won in the 1956 Suez War without obtaining concessions from Egypt, wouldn’t have had to accept an early ceasefire in 1967, wouldn’t have had to spare Egypt’s army in 1973. In these and other wars, in fact, Israel has had to fight the clock as much as its aggressors, knowing that U.S. presidents had little patience for Israeli success on the battlefield.


If U.S. presidents had their way, neither Saddam Hussein’s or Bashar Assad’s nuclear reactor would have been destroyed. As for Iran, a Ron Paul approach would have let Israel attack Iran early, before a decision to do so became highly risky. Paul believes an Israeli attack on Iran is Israel’s business, not America’s. George Bush didn’t give Israel that much leeway, let alone Barack Obama.


Jewish Democrats attack Paul for wanting to stop foreign aid to Israel. What’s wrong with that? Paul wants the U.S. to stop foreign aid to all countries, Arab states included. This isn’t an anti-Israel position, it’s an entirely reasonable foreign policy and fiscal position perspective that, if it ever happened, might benefit Israel on balance, since it might disadvantage Israel less than its enemies. U.S. aid to Israel is no longer vitally necessary for Israel’s survival – it represents about 1% of Israel’s GDP and is worth less than 1% because the aid comes with strings attached. Even if losing the aid caused Israelis some hardship – say it required Israelis to pay higher taxes to fund the Israeli military – where is the logic or the honour in American Jews asking Americans citizens to be taxed more to fund Israel’s military?


Paul holds various views that, to my mind, are so off-base as to be wacky. He sees Iran as relatively benign, for example, and wouldn’t want the U.S. to intervene to prevent Iran from having the bomb. But why should that disqualify him for being honoured for his profound defence of liberty and the American constitution over the decades? The Republicans in no way endorse his views of Iran – Romney and every other serious candidate made that crystal clear. Ironically, Paul’s view on Iran and on war in general would have far more adherents among Democratic Jews who castigate him than among rank and file Republicans who admire him.

More generally, do Jews really want a litmus test for candidates to high office?


Must all candidates slavishly conform to some Jewish Democratic notion of what’s good for Israel or risk opprobrium? The insults levied against Paul by the Jewish Democrats can only promote animosity toward Jews among millions of Ron Paul supporters, both because the insults are off the mark and because they display an intolerance of those who hold reasonable but contrary views.


From my perspective, Paul has shown uncommon respect for Israel and for Jews. Maybe Jews should reciprocate with a little respect of their own.