Canadian Institute for Jewish Research
L'institut Canadien de Recherches sur le Judaisme
Strength of Israel will not lie

Tag: Trump

ERDOGAN PURSUES NEO-OTTOMAN IDEOLOGY; SAUDI ROLE IN YEMEN WAR CHALLENGED BY U.S.

Erdoğan: Ideological But Not Suicidal: Burak Bekdil, BESA, Dec. 7, 2018— Is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a devout ideologue or a pragmatist?

Erdogan is Deepening his Involvement in Sudan: Zvi Mazel, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 9, 2018 — Pursuing its strategic goals in Sudan, Turkey is turning to the economy.

US Senate Resolution on Saudi Arabia Could Change Middle East Dynamics: Dr. James M. Dorsey, BESA, Dec. 9, 2018— A six-page draft US Senate resolution does more than portray Saudi policy as detrimental to US interests, which is striking in and of itself.

Standing With Saudi Arabia: Tony Badran, Tablet, Dec. 2, 2018— This week the Senate will vote on and likely pass a resolution of disapproval calling for the United States to cease activities related to the Yemen war.

On Topic Links 

Turkey Sides with Hamas on U.N. Resolution Condemning Rocket Attacks: John Rossomando, IPT News, Dec 5, 2018

Anti-Semitism: The Fast Track in Turkey to a Government Career?: Uzay Bulut, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 4, 2018

Senate to Vote on Withdrawing U.S. Support to Saudis in Yemen War: Natalie Andrews, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 9, 2018

World Chess Contest Moved from Saudi Arabia After Two Israelis Complain of Ban: Stuart Winer, Times of Israel, Dec. 3, 2018

 

ERDOĞAN: IDEOLOGICAL BUT NOT SUICIDAL

Burak Bekdil                                

BESA, Dec. 7, 2018

Is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a devout ideologue or a pragmatist? The answer is both. Perhaps a more relevant question is: When is he a devout ideologue and when a pragmatist? In late 2010, at the peak of the diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Israel after the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident, a senior Israeli diplomat asked this author: “Is there a way to push Erdoğan from blind (anti-Zionist) ideology to rationalism so that we can normalize our relations?” My answer was, “Costs… If a crisis costs him economically, then politically, he will switch from ideology to reason.” A comment on that conclusion made by a friend of the diplomat explains why Ankara and Jerusalem have had erratic but deeply hostile relations since 2009: “Israel is a powerful country but not big enough to make Turkey pay a price for its antagonism.” After a theoretical normalization of diplomatic ties in December 2016, Turkey and Israel once again downgraded their diplomatic missions in May 2018.

In 2009, then-PM Erdoğan (or his Islamist/ideologue self) boldly challenged Beijing when more than 100 Muslim Uighurs were killed in clashes with China’s security forces. This was at a time when Turkey’s economy was performing spectacularly and posting high growth rates year after year. Championing his “leader of the umma” persona, Erdoğan called the deaths of Uighur Muslims “a genocide.”

Today, with Turkey’s economy badly ailing over record-high inflation and interest rates and the national currency having lost a third of its value against major western currencies since the beginning of the year, a much different Erdoğan is on display: Not a word against Beijing from the “leader of the umma” in the face of a crackdown in which China has forcibly put hundreds of thousands of devout ethnic Uighurs in “rehabilitation camps.” Erdoğan has also rejected relocating Uighur militants fighting in northern Syria into camps on Turkish soil. Why Erdoğan’s reasonable self all of a sudden instead of his ideological self, which champions the Uighur cause? Simple: He needs loans, investment, and more trade with China.

In September and October 2015, Turkey started to complain of airspace violations by Russian military aircraft along its border with Syria. It announced that it had changed the rules of engagement with foreign aircraft violating Turkish airspace: Such (Russian) aircraft would be shot down. In November of that year, the Turkish military did indeed shoot down a Russian Su-24, claiming it had violated Turkish airspace. Then-PM Ahmet Davutoğlu announced that the same rules of engagement would be applied if there were further violations. Erdoğan boldly demanded of the Russians, “What business do you have in Syria? You don’t even have a border with Syria.”

An angry Vladimir Putin immediately installed Russian air defense systems in northern Syria in a not-so-subtle move to threaten Turkish military aircraft flying over Syrian skies. The Turkish military had to stop flights in Syrian airspace. Putin also announced scores of punishing economic sanctions on Turkey and Turkish companies doing multi-billion dollar businesses in Russia. The sanctions included bans on Turkish exports and a travel ban that quickly hurt Turkey’s tourist industry. More threateningly, Putin said the Russian sanctions could include “military retaliation,” reminding the Turks of their less-than-glorious military past with pre-Soviet Russia.

It took a mere six months for Erdoğan to move from demanding an apology from Moscow to personally apologizing to Putin. In June 2016, Turkey and Russia “normalized” their frozen diplomatic ties. Since then, Ankara has committed to acquiring the Russian-made S-400 air and anti-missile defense system despite warnings from its NATO allies, and will become the first NATO member state to deploy that system on its soil. Erdoğan has said Turkey would also consider buying the S-500 system now under development. Non-military trade normalized too, and flocks of Russian tourists have arrived at Turkey’s Mediterranean resorts.

More importantly, Turkey has radically moved from “what business do you have in Syria” to allying with Russia in Syria. The two countries, along with Iran, are partners in the Astana process. Moscow orchestrates every strategic move in northern Syria, and Ankara simply complies with its dictates.

Enter America. In the first half of 2018, Ankara and Washington went through their worst diplomatic crisis in decades over several major disputes. Turkey claimed that America was harboring its most wanted terrorist, Fethullah Gülen, a Muslim cleric in self-exile in Pennsylvania accused of being the mastermind behind a failed coup against Erdoğan in July 2016. Also, a senior Turkish government banker was in a US prison, with his bank a potential target of billions of dollars in US sanctions for violating the Iran sanctions. In addition, Ankara accused Washington of equipping what it calls “Kurdish terrorists” east of the Euphrates in northern Syria. America views them as allies in its fight against ISIS.

The US responded to Ankara’s purchase of the S-400 system by threatening to suspend delivery of the next generation F-35 fighter to Turkey. Washington also sanctioned two Turkish ministers and doubled its tariffs on imports of Turkish steel and aluminum. Ankara retaliated by sanctioning two US secretaries. At the heart of the matter was an American pastor, Andrew Brunson, held in a Turkish prison on charges of espionage and terrorism. “As long as I am in power,” Erdoğan once roared, “that spy (Brunson) will never be set free.”

Then came the reversal. The Turkish lira lost more than 40% of its value in eight months. In what traders called the Brunson effect, the markets went into a meltdown. Turkish bond yields rose to record highs and recession loomed, with huge conglomerates knocking on banks’ doors demanding debt restructuring. Several large-scale companies announced bankruptcy. In October, “the spy who would never be set free” was released, flew to America, and posed for the cameras with President Trump. Markets sighed with relief, and the lira is now trading at its highest point since August. On Nov. 2, Ankara and Washington bilaterally dropped sanctions against each other’s ministers.

Erdoğan can be offensive and confrontational, in keeping with his neo-Ottoman ideology. But he is not suicidal. He knows that an economic crisis can quickly turn into a political crisis that could cost him his closely guarded power, and he will change his tune accordingly.

Contents

   

ERDOGAN IS DEEPENING HIS INVOLVEMENT IN SUDAN                                        

Zvi Mazel                                                    

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 9, 2018

Pursuing its strategic goals in Sudan, Turkey is turning to the economy. On November 29, Turkish Agriculture and Forests Minister Bekir Pakdemirli told Sudanese daily Al Shuruk that his country and Sudan had established a joint agricultural and livestock company; its offices, he said, had opened in Khartoum a few days earlier.

TIGEM, the general directorate of agricultural enterprises of Turkey, holds 80% of its shares and Sudan 20%. According to the minister, as a pilot project the company will lease 12,500 hectares to Turkish companies in the private sector out of the 780,000 hectares Sudan agreed to lease to Turkey for a period of 99 years when president Erdogan visited the country in 2017. These vast tracts of land are spread across five districts. The purpose of the pilot project is to study culture and export feasibility. According to the minister, it is to help develop Sudanese agriculture while providing Turkey with agricultural produce that cannot be grown locally because of the climate. That produce will not be taxed. The company was established following the Turkish-Sudanese agricultural agreement signed in 2014, which aimed at developing Sudanese agricultural potential in order to produce foodstuffs.

This public and important development demonstrates the common and long-range determination of both countries to consolidate their relationship. During Erdogan’s December 2017 visit, Sudan had agreed to lease the Suakin Island to Turkey for an indeterminate period. Turkey is to build a port, develop agriculture and restore the citadel, which had been for centuries the seat of the Ottoman Governor. The island is situated in the Red Sea opposite the Saudi port of Jedda.

President Erdogan is using Sudan to establish a foothold on the Red Sea to further is grand design of making Turkey a regional power and perhaps giving it back the glory of the Ottoman Empire, a policy he started implementing as soon as he was in power. He first came to Khartoum in 2006, when he was head of government and relations between the two countries kept getting warmer. Ankara provided much-needed economic relief when the United Stated imposed sanctions on Khartoum and in the past decade Turkish companies have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Sudan.

But it was during his December 2017 visit that the Turkish president set the seal on the special relationship between the two countries. Arriving with an impressive delegation of ministers and industrialists, he signed no fewer than 12 economic cooperation agreements for a total of $650 million. A high committee for strategic consultations was established. Another agreement dealt with security cooperation, but no details were published; what is known is that the commanders in chief of Turkey, Sudan and that of Qatar (who “happened” to come to Khartoum during the visit) met for unspecified meetings. A few days later the ministers of defense of those three countries arrived in Khartoum; they joined president Omar el Bashar for the inauguration of a textile factory that will manufacture uniforms for their armies as well as for neighboring African countries.

In March 2018, the Sudanese finance minister signed with Soma, a leading Turkish construction firm, a contract for the establishment of Khartoum’s new airport at a cost of $1.5 billion. In June of the same year, the joint Turkish-Sudanese businessmen committee met in Ankara with the participation of the finance and economic ministers of both countries, who signed a reciprocal agreement to promote trade with the ambitious goal of reaching exchanges of $2b. During the two preceding years, trade volume was barely $500m. a year, with Turkish exports making up 90% of the total.

There are important international aspects to their cooperation as well. Because of its closer ties to Turkey, Khartoum reduced significantly its participation in the Saudi-led Arab coalition against the Houthis in Yemen. At the same time, it developed its ties with Qatar, whose investments in Sudan reached $3.5b. in 2017.  But Turkey sees beyond Sudan. It set up a military base in Somalia. Inaugurated in October 2017, it is intended “to train the Somalian army.” The year before it had set up a similar base in Qatar and later dispatched reinforcements to bolster the small kingdom engaged in a confrontation with Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, fearing an invasion by the latter.

What the three countries involved in the Turkish alliance – Sudan, Somalia and Qatar – have in common is that they are ruled by Islamic parties close to the Muslim Brotherhood. Turkey, itself a strong supporter of the Brotherhood, took advantage of that fact to enhance its the strategic importance in the Red Sea area. It has now a political basis through its allies and a military presence through its outposts in Somalia and the Sudani port city of Suakin and could therefore threaten freedom of navigation in the Red Sea. As things stand today, it has no reason to do so, but it has demonstrated that it should be taken into consideration even far from its own borders.

This is a state of affairs that Egypt and Saudi Arabia, fighting the Muslim Brotherhood, are unhappy with, but cannot tackle at this point because they are embroiled in other conflicts. Saudi Arabia is focused on the threat of Iran and on the long-drawn Yemen war against the Houthis; Egypt has not yet quelled the Sinai insurgency and is trying to implement much-needed economic reforms. They are not ready for a confrontation with Turkey. Nevertheless, Cairo fears a deterioration of its own relations with Sudan, since it needs the help of that country in its efforts to preserve its share of the Nile waters, threatened both by claims of other African countries and by the massive “Renaissance” dam being built by Ethiopia on one of the tributaries of the Blue Nile. Though Riyadh and Cairo are so far behaving with circumspection, there is a very real potential for a regional flare-up that would speedily expand to the whole Middle East.

Contents

   

US SENATE RESOLUTION ON SAUDI ARABIA

COULD CHANGE MIDDLE EAST DYNAMICS

Dr. James M. Dorsey                                 

BESA, Dec. 9, 2018

A six-page draft US Senate resolution does more than portray Saudi policy as detrimental to US interests, which is striking in and of itself. It also identifies Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman as “complicit” in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, holds him accountable for the devastating war in Yemen that has sparked one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, and blames him for the failure to end the 17-month-old Saudi-United Arab Emirates-led economic and diplomatic boycott of Qatar as well as the jailing and torture of Saudi dissidents and activists.

The resolution confronts not only Prince Muhammad’s policies but also, by implication, those of his closest ally, UAE Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed. The UAE was the first country that Saudi leader visited after the Khashoggi killing. By in effect challenging the position of king-in-waiting Prince Muhammad, the resolution raises the question whether some of his closest allies, including the UAE crown prince, will in future want to be identified that closely with him.

Moreover, by demanding the release of activist Raif bin Muhammad Badawi (better known as Raif Badawi) and women’s rights activists, the resolution further the challenges fundamentals of Prince Muhammad’s iron-fisted repression of his critics, the extent of his proposed social reforms as part of his drive to diversify and streamline the Saudi economy, and the kingdom’s human rights record.

Badawi, a 34-year-old blogger whose website is entitled Free Saudi Liberals, was barred from travel and had his assets frozen in 2009, was arrested in 2012, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam. His sister, Samar Badawi, a women’s rights activist, was detained earlier this year. His wife and children have been granted asylum and citizenship in Canada. A diplomatic row that stunned many erupted in August when Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador after the foreign ministry in Ottawa tweeted a demand that Ms. Badawi and other activists be released.

Prince Muhammad and Saudi Arabia, even prior to introduction of the Senate resolution, are discovering that the Khashoggi killing weakened the kingdom internationally and made it more vulnerable to pressure. Talks in Sweden between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and Houthi rebels to end the war are the most immediate consequence of the kingdom’s changing position. Another is the Senate resolution, which is unprecedented in the scope and harshness of its criticism of a long-standing ally. While the resolution is likely to spark initial anger among some of Prince’s Muhammad’s allies, it could, if adopted and/or implemented, persuade some – like UAE Crown Prince Muhammad – to rethink their fundamental strategies.

The relationship between the two Muhammads constituted a cornerstone of the UAE leader’s strategy to achieve his political, foreign policy, and defense goals. These include projecting the Emirates as a guiding light of cutting-edge Arab and Muslim modernity; ensuring that the Middle East fits the crown prince’s autocratic, anti-Islamist mold; and enabling the UAE, described by US defense secretary Jim Mattis as “Little Sparta,” to punch above its weight politically, diplomatically, and militarily. To compensate for the Emirates’ small size, Prince Muhammad opted to pursue his goals in part by working through the Saudi royal court. In leaked emails, UAE ambassador to Washington Yousef al-Otaiba, a close associate of Prince Muhammad, said of the Saudi crown prince that “I don’t think we’ll ever see a more pragmatic leader in that country.”…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

Contents

   

STANDING WITH SAUDI ARABIA

Tony Badran                                            

Tablet, Dec. 2, 2018

This week the Senate will vote on and likely pass a resolution of disapproval calling for the United States to cease activities related to the Yemen war. The resolution is essentially a call to cut off Saudi Arabia, which, in turn, would signal that the United States does not care if Iran, the other party in the conflict, were to emerge on top in Yemen—an outcome that carries direct consequences for the global economy. Some senators who supported moving the resolution forward have cited the killing of Saudi national Jamal Khashoggi, which suggests, as one senator who opposes the resolution put it, that the Yemen issue is being tied to the broader issue of the relationship with Saudi Arabia. All of this is a display of strategic recklessness. In contrast, President Donald Trump’s statement two weeks ago titled “Standing with Saudi Arabia” was an example of strategic clarity. It bears revisiting for a closer read.

The president’s statement was followed by a torrent of criticism and outrage. What struck the sourest note for the president’s critics was his injection of colloquial language into a formal statement on foreign policy. For critics of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, the style of Trump’s statement amplified the repulsive crudeness of its substance. It offended their sense not just of what American foreign policy ought to be, but also about how it ought to be presented to the public.

Unsurprisingly, the criticism of D.C. foreign policy experts misses the point entirely. What they found crude and distasteful is precisely what made the president’s statement so powerful. The furious objections to both the content and the style of Trump’s statement point up the ways in which the foreign policy establishment has often used high-flown language about morality and ethics to cloak a series of failures in logical reasoning about the American interest, to say nothing of the negative impact of their preferences on the far-away places where they’re applied.

The opening two lines—“America First!”; “The world is a very dangerous place!”—establish the document as indubitably the president’s own. This stamp of Trumpness is critical to establish the statement’s credibility with its intended audiences, which may or may not include America’s Trump-hating foreign policy elite. While the president may enjoy sticking his thumb in his enemies’ eye, his key audiences here are Americans who share his America-centered approach to foreign policy, who can be found on both the right and the left these days, as well as foreign leaders, who must calculate whether they can rely on the United States as an ally and what being America’s enemy might cost. To both groups, Trump’s opening language makes a clear point: What follows are the words and beliefs of the American president himself.

President Trump is selling his foreign policy directly to the American people, rather than talking over their heads. This is, to be sure, a different way of playing the foreign policy game, one that Harry Truman might recognize but more recent presidents, of both parties, might not. There is no hidden pitch, masked with supposedly sophisticated lingo or flowery rhetoric that can then be spun by an echo chamber of political and media operatives, who will use their highly credentialed expertise to assure Americans that the money we send to Iran actually belongs to Iran, so we aren’t actually sending them money, or that the Iranians have no intention of building nuclear weapons, which is why making a deal with them right now on Iran’s own terms is a matter of urgent national importance. Or, assuring Americans and the world that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction and is planning to use them, which is why America needs to invade Iraq, where it will then use its occupation forces to attempt to turn the country into a democratic model for the entire Middle East…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents

On Topic Links

Turkey Sides with Hamas on U.N. Resolution Condemning Rocket Attacks: John Rossomando, IPT News, Dec 5, 2018—NATO ally Turkey plans to oppose an American-sponsored draft resolution at the United Nations condemning Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian terror factions. A vote on the resolution is scheduled for Thursday.

Anti-Semitism: The Fast Track in Turkey to a Government Career?: Uzay Bulut, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 4, 2018—As the Islamist government of Turkey grows increasingly authoritarian, religious minorities in the country seem to be the most targeted and affected group. The concerns of Turkey’s Jewish community were addressed recently by Mois Gabay, a columnist for the country’s Jewish weekly, Şalom, in an article entitled, “What Kind of Turkey Are We Living In?”

Senate to Vote on Withdrawing U.S. Support to Saudis in Yemen War: Natalie Andrews, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 9, 2018—The U.S. Senate this week is set to vote on a resolution to withdraw U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition at war in Yemen, an effort to punish Riyadh for the killing of a Saudi Arabian journalist.

World Chess Contest Moved from Saudi Arabia After Two Israelis Complain of Ban: Stuart Winer, Times of Israel, Dec. 3, 2018—The governing body for international chess confirmed Monday that an upcoming tournament that was to be held for the second year in Saudi Arabia has been relocated to Russia because of the kingdom’s policies, which exclude some eligible players.

IDF INVESTIGATES GAZA OPERATION WHILE JEWISH STATE PREPARES FOR NEXT CONFRONTATION

IDF Opens Probes into Gaza Special Ops Raid that Went Awry: Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, Nov. 27, 2018 — The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday announced it was launching two separate investigations into an operation that went awry in the Gaza Strip earlier this month…

Israel’s Next Northern War: Operational and Legal Challenges: Michael Hostage & Geoffrey Corn, Real Clear Defense, Nov. 3, 2018 — Hezbollah has threatened Israel’s northern border for decades.

Why Japan is Building its Military, Fast: David J. Bercuson, National Post, Nov. 6, 2018— With 18 diesel electric submarines, four so-called “helicopter destroyers” that look suspiciously like small aircraft carriers, 43 destroyers and destroyer escorts, 25 minesweepers and training ships, fleet oilers, submarine rescue ships and other vessels, Japan’s navy…

The INF Treaty Hamstrings the U.S. Trump is Right to Leave It.: Elbridge Colby, Washington Post, Oct. 23— The Trump administration has announced that it plans to withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty of 1987.

On Topic Links

Israeli Air Force Holds First-Ever Combat Rescue Drill With Six Other Forces: Yaakov Lappin, JNS, Nov. 26, 2018

Looking at the Gaza Strip: From Short Term to Long Term: Kim Lavi, Udi Dekel, INSS, Nov. 20, 2018

Hezbollah Firepower Exceeds 95% of World’s Conventional Armies, Report Says: Sean Savage, JNS, Nov. 9, 2018

In the Middle East, You Win With Fear: Prof. Efraim Inbar, Israel Hayom, Nov. 13, 2018

                             

IDF OPENS PROBES INTO GAZA

SPECIAL OPS RAID THAT WENT AWRY                                                                 

Judah Ari Gross                                                                                                  

Times of Israel, Nov. 27, 2018

The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday announced it was launching two separate investigations into an operation that went awry in the Gaza Strip earlier this month in which special forces soldiers were exposed by Hamas operatives, leading to a firefight in which one Israeli officer and seven Palestinian gunmen were killed. In response to the raid and the deaths of its men, the terror group launched a massive three-day attack on Israel, along with other terror groups in the Strip, firing some 500 rockets and mortar shells at Israeli cities and towns near the Gaza border and leading Israel to the brink of war.

On the night of November 11, Israeli special forces soldiers entered the Gaza Strip on an intelligence-gathering raid, the details of which remain under a strict gag order by the military censor. According to Hamas officials, the Israeli soldiers were from the Sayeret Matkal elite reconnaissance unit and entered the coastal enclave through a proper border crossing, either Israel’s Erez Crossing or Egypt’s Rafah. They were said to have been driving through Gaza in civilian vans, approximately three kilometers (two miles) from the border. Israel has not confirmed any of the claims.

During the mission, the unit was stopped and searched at a Hamas checkpoint, and were initially believed to be Palestinian criminals, according to recordings of the terror group’s radio chatter, transcripts of which were published by Hadashot news. At a certain point, the Israeli troops opened fire on the Hamas gunmen, prompting a gun battle. An Israeli lieutenant colonel — who can only be identified by the first Hebrew letter of his name, “Mem” — was killed and another officer, who went back to recover Mem’s body, was wounded. The special forces unit beat a rapid retreat from the coastal enclave, calling in airstrikes for cover and a helicopter evacuation from the elite search-and-rescue Unit 669.

According to the army, one investigation will be conducted within Military Intelligence. The findings will be presented to the head of Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Tamir Hyman and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot. The military said an initial probe was expected to be completed within the coming weeks. In addition, Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon — the former head of IDF Operations — was also charged with a wider investigation into how the army conducts such raids. Alon was instructed to lead a team to “examine and study the challenges and [make] recommendations at the level of the General Staff, of multiple army branches and of the inter-organizational cooperation between different special forces,” the army said.

The Hamas terror group is conducting its own investigation into the Israeli raid. Last week, Hamas published photographs of eight people that it says were involved in the raid. The photographs were distributed on social media along with the email address and two phone numbers of the terror group’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, in order to allow people to provide information about the operation. The phone numbers stopped working later in the day.

Pictures of the two cars allegedly used by the Israeli special forces soldiers during the raid were also published. Though freely available on the internet, the photographs could not be published by Israeli media by order of the military censor. The censor approved the publication of the pixelated photograph used in this article.

In a highly irregular public statement, the censor also called on Israelis not to share any information they have about the raid, even if they think it benign. “Hamas is working now to interpret and understand the event that occurred within Gaza on November 11, and every piece of information, even if it is considered by the publisher as harmless, is liable to endanger human lives and damage the security of the state,” the censor said. Hamas officials are said to view the gun battle as a failure, because their primary goal — according to a Hadashot news report — was to capture the IDF soldiers who had placed themselves so near Hamas’s grasp.

Contents

   

ISRAEL’S NEXT NORTHERN WAR:

OPERATIONAL AND LEGAL CHALLENGES

Michael Hostage & Geoffrey Corn

Real Clear Defense, Nov. 3, 2018

Hezbollah has threatened Israel’s northern border for decades. Today, however, the nature of this threat has become dire, and the risks of escalation real, as Iran continues supplying Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon with game-changing weapons to devastate the Israeli homeland.

When the next conflict erupts between Israel and Hezbollah, its scale and intensity will bear little resemblance to those of recent memory. Hezbollah today is highly competent, adaptable and lethal. Its forces have gained invaluable battlefield experience in Syria and amassed more weaponry than 95 percent of the world’s conventional militaries, including at least 120,000 rockets and missiles. This is more than all of Europe’s NATO members combined, and ten times as many as when it last went to war with Israel in 2006.

Especially troubling is Hezbollah’s growing arsenal of powerful long-range precision missiles capable of striking targets throughout Israel. Unlike in recent conflicts, Israel’s missile defenses will be incapable of shielding the nation from such a threat. From the outset of conflict, Hezbollah will be able to sustain a launch rate of more than 3,000 missiles per day – as many as Israel faced in the entire 34-day conflict in 2006.

Despite this quantum leap in its capabilities, Hezbollah is under no illusion about its ability to inflict military defeat on Israel. It will not seek victory in the valleys of Lebanon or the skies over Israel, but in the court of public opinion. To do so, it will use combat operations to lay the groundwork for an information campaign delegitimizing Israel. Two tactics will be central to Hezbollah’s efforts: first, deliberately attacking Israeli civilian population centers to compel an aggressive response by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF); second, illegally exploiting the presence of Lebanese civilians to shield itself from IDF attack.

Hezbollah will then manipulate the inevitable casualties by relying on widespread misperceptions about the true nature of combat operations and how international law (the law of armed conflict, or LOAC) regulates such operations. It will use the inevitable images of civilian suffering in Lebanon to portray Israel’s lawful operations as immoral and illegal. By weaponizing information and the law, Hezbollah will seek to force Israel to halt its self-defense campaign before the IDF can achieve decisive victory.

This is the increasingly prevalent face of hybrid warfare, where law-abiding militaries confront non-state actors like Hezbollah who blend robust combat capabilities and unlawful tactics with sophisticated information operations. This difficult reality is highlighted in a new report by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America’s (JINSA) Hybrid Warfare Task Force, which examines the significant operational and legal challenges Israel will confront when it is compelled to engage Hezbollah and potentially other regional adversaries including Iran.

A key finding is that Hezbollah’s intentional emplacement of rockets, missiles and other vital military assets in villages and cities throughout Lebanon will increase risks to innocent civilians. To gain strategic advantage, Hezbollah will exploit the common – but erroneous – assumption that Israel, by virtue of attacking these sites, must be acting unlawfully, even when the unfortunate effects of these attacks are rendered unavoidable by Hezbollah’s deliberate and illegal use of human shields. This dilemma for Israel is further complicated by our expectation that the IDF will be compelled to undertake large-scale, aggressive operations to neutralize as much of Hezbollah’s rocket threat as possible before it is ever employed.

This will include ground operations deep into Lebanon. In addition to their sheer scale, the nature of such operations in towns and villages will magnify the likelihood of collateral damage and civilian casualties. This will also make it much more difficult for the IDF to utilize the extensive and often innovative measures to mitigate risks to civilians that have been commonplace during more limited operations – for example, warnings and providing civilians time to evacuate before an attack.

Despite these challenges, our task force found an IDF fully committed to compliance with the LOAC, knowing full well Hezbollah seeks to exploit this very same commitment. We worry, however, that the nature of a major combined arms operation will contribute to the operational and legal misperceptions that are so adeptly exploited by enemies like Hezbollah, resulting in false condemnation of Israel from the international public, media and many states.

How this story plays out for Israel will have reverberating effects for other professional militaries, including our own. Unless the challenges of such operations become more widely understood, with more credible assessments of legality, morality and legitimacy, others will be incentivized to replicate Hezbollah’s perverse tactics.

Ultimately, this requires a greater appreciation of the realities of combat against hybrid adversaries. It also requires a greater appreciation for how the LOAC strikes a rational balance between civilian protection and military effectiveness. Nowhere will these considerations be more apparent – and more consequential – than in Israel’s next conflict with Hezbollah.

 

Contents

   

WHY JAPAN IS BUILDING ITS MILITARY, FAST                                                                 

David J. Bercuson

National Post, Nov. 6, 2018

With 18 diesel electric submarines, four so-called “helicopter destroyers” that look suspiciously like small aircraft carriers, 43 destroyers and destroyer escorts, 25 minesweepers and training ships, fleet oilers, submarine rescue ships and other vessels, Japan’s navy — the Maritime Self-Defense Force — is the second largest in Asia and one of the largest in the world. It is also highly advanced technologically and is growing all the time. The two 27,000 ton Izumo-class helicopter destroyers, the largest in the fleet, with flat flight decks and islands on the starboard side of the vessels, are small compared to the United States Navy’s Nimitz-class aircraft carriers (approximately 100,000 tons) or Britain’s new Queen Elizabeth-class carriers (65,000 tons). But if equipped with the new short-take-off-and-vertical-landing F-35B stealth fighter they will still pack a powerful punch. And Japan is considering adding more of these aircraft carriers to its fleet and advanced U.S.-style Aegis class destroyers, capable of shooting down medium-range ballistic missiles.

The irony in all of this is that Japan’s post Second World War constitution still contains a provision — Article 9 — that prohibits it from possessing any offensive military capability. In the early 1950s, Japan began to build its self-defence forces and now has a powerful navy, a modern medium-sized air force that will soon fly the F-35 along with specially built F-15s, alongside more than 300 fighter aircraft and 50,000 personnel, and a growing land army and marine sea landing capability.

Are these military assets “defensive” in nature? Partly, but aircraft carriers, high-speed destroyers, modern fighter aircraft and assault ships are surely as offensive as they are defensive. And Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made it plain that in less than two years, he intends to seek to change the Japanese constitution to drastically curtail any obligation Japan has to maintain a purely defensive capability. In other words, he will ask the Japanese people and legislature to bless what Japan has already done. That could be more problematic than people realize.

Like Germany, Japan suffered greatly in the Second World War. Virtually all its great cities were levelled either with atomic bombs (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) or fire raids that were carried out by giant B-29 bombers at low altitude at night. The attacks burned the heart out of Japan’s cities. In March 1945, 100,000 people were killed in one night in a fire raid on Tokyo and many acres of the city were burned to the ground. Submarine blockades of Japan drastically curtailed food and fuel supplies. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese soldiers were killed either in the United States’ march across the Pacific or in the Russian invasion of Manchuria near the end of the war. Japan was a prostrate nation by the end of 1945 and its ancient system of government was a shambles.

The result of this terrible defeat was the rise of pacifist thinking throughout Japan. Having suffered from military defeat, few Japanese were interested any longer in military adventurism. At the same time democracy took root under the American occupation of Japan. To give but one example, although women still endure many disadvantages in Japan — as they do here also — the Americans forced the Japanese to accept women as fully equal in civil rights and political authority. Japanese industry re-grew and although Japan is no longer the second largest economy in the world — it was recently surpassed by China — it is still a highly technologically advanced economy turning out everything from advanced motor vehicles to high-quality TV sets and computers. Prime Minister Abe is a strong supporter of free trade as are most of the political hierarchy of Japan.

Why then would the Japanese people support a militarization of their country? We need look no further than the bellicose growth of Chinese nationalism and the recent moves by the Chinese to dominate the South and East China Seas in the way that the United States dominates the Caribbean. The Chinese have made no secret of their ambition with the creation of artificial islands that now host air bases, anti-aircraft missiles, and Chinese “coast guard” vessels that though mostly painted white (as coast guard vessels generally are), mount naval-style guns on their foredecks.

Japan is heavily dependent on sea transport, especially for fuel oil and natural gas, that comes from the Middle East via the Strait of Malacca and the Formosa Strait. With the U.S. under President Donald Trump adopting an increasing isolationist tone, Japan, like Australia and other nations in the region, will have to put more assets into their own defence.

Contents

   

THE INF TREATY HAMSTRINGS THE U.S. TRUMP IS RIGHT TO LEAVE IT.          Elbridge Colby                       

Washington Post, Oct. 23

The Trump administration has announced that it plans to withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty of 1987. This treaty banned the United States and Russia from possessing any ground-launched ballistic and cruise missile systems with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers (300 to 3,400 miles). The administration’s decision is sure to elicit a cacophony of criticism, but the truth is that the United States should no longer tolerate the INF status quo. The reasons basically boil down to two: Russia appears unwilling to give up the systems that violate INF (meaning INF is essentially a dead letter), and, more important, the United States no longer benefits from a ban on ground-based intermediate-range systems — but because of China, not Russia.

This is not to downplay the importance of INF. The treaty played a major role in enabling and locking in the diminution of tensions that ended the Cold War. In particular, it eliminated all of the Soviet Union’s SS-20 intermediate-range missiles, which posed a particularly pressing threat to NATO’s defenses in the 1970s and 1980s.

This was all well and to the good. But today is another day. Russia is no longer abiding by the treaty, and Moscow gives no indication of being open to coming back into compliance. The treaty has therefore become a one-way arrangement: The United States is abiding by it, but Russia is not.

This would not by itself be a compelling argument for withdrawal, because the United States does not require INF-restricted systems for effective deterrence and defense in Europe, and staying in the treaty highlights Russia’s perfidy. The United States and its NATO allies must take steps to improve their defense posture against Russia, but noncompliant systems are not necessary to do this. Since the Russian threat is more modest in scale than the Soviet one was, the United States could meet the need by investing in better penetrating strike aircraft and munitions, sea- and undersea-launched missiles, improved ground-based fires, more resilient basing, better logistics, more effective and affordable air and missile defense, and the like.

Rather, the most compelling reason for withdrawal is that the United States could materially improve the military balance against China in East Asia by developing and deploying INF-noncompliant systems. China poses a much larger and more sophisticated long-term military threat than Russia, and U.S. strike options are more constrained by the geography of the Pacific. Washington would benefit from having the ability to deploy survivable land-based ballistic and cruise missile systems to provide a larger, more diverse and resilient greater strike capability in the event of a conflict in the western Pacific.

The United States is currently complying with a treaty unilaterally and suffering for it — albeit in a different theater. It was worth spending several years trying to bring Russia back in compliance, but that course has clearly failed. Now is as good a time as any to adapt our arms-control architecture to our strategic needs. Many will argue that leaving the INF treaty is tantamount to tearing down the late-Cold War arms-control architecture, thus bringing the world to the nuclear brink. But such statements are gross exaggerations. First, INF did not need to be a disarmament treaty; most arms control treaties involve ceilings rather than bans, as well as transparency and inspections. There is nothing inherently destabilizing about INF systems. In reality, it was likely that then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev simply wanted to reduce the economic burden imposed by the Soviet military, and getting rid of INF systems was a convenient way to do that.

Second, if anyone should be calling for withdrawal, it should be the disarmament community. For those who look at arms control as a useful strategic tool but not a panacea, violations are important but not existential, because resting a nation’s security on arms control would be foolhardy in the first place. It is disarmers who argue that we should put our faith in treaties — but if there is no consequence for violating them, what hope is there for disarmament?

All that this means, however, is that there is a middle course open. Russia clearly believes it needs INF systems, and the United States could benefit from them in Asia. A revised INF that regionalized the treaty and replaced the ban with ceilings and transparency measures, as the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty does with strategic systems, is therefore a natural area of potential agreement. Ending up there could make sense for all parties.

Contents

On Topic Links

Israeli Air Force Holds First-Ever Combat Rescue Drill With Six Other Forces: Yaakov Lappin, JNS, Nov. 26, 2018—In the first international drill of its kind, the Israeli Air Force hosted six foreign air forces for an helicopter combat search-and-rescue drill in November.

Looking at the Gaza Strip: From Short Term to Long Term: Kim Lavi, Udi Dekel, INSS, Nov. 20, 2018—In the most recent escalation between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the message conveyed by both parties was that they are not interested in paying the price of a war that will ultimately return them to square one.

Hezbollah Firepower Exceeds 95% of World’s Conventional Armies, Report Says: Sean Savage, JNS, Nov. 9, 2018—Israel and Hezbollah have been adversaries for decades now, dating back to the Jewish state’s involvement in the Lebanese civil war.

In the Middle East, You Win With Fear: Prof. Efraim Inbar, Israel Hayom, Nov. 13, 2018—The past six months have brought us violent demonstrations along the Gaza Strip border, cross-border infiltrations, rocket fire and incendiary kites and balloons. This means that a so-called “agreement” or truce is not a viable option.

TRUMP TAKES TOUGH STAND ON IRAN WHILE FOLLOWING REALPOLITIK WITH SAUDIS

Trump Doesn’t Know History, but He Knows Iran: Jonathan S. Tobin, JNS, Nov. 13, 2018 — Donald Trump got just about the welcome he should have expected when he showed up to take part in the commemorations of the centennial of the end of World War I this past weekend.

The Implications of Sanctions for the Iranian Oil Market: Dr. Doron Itzchakov, BESA, Nov. 25, 2018— On November 5, the Trump government imposed wide-ranging sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran in order to bring about a change in the revolutionary regime’s radical orientation.

How Trump Could — and Should — Get Tough on the Saudis: Elliott Abrams, New York Post, Nov. 22, 2018— As a card-carrying neoconservative, I am usually a critic of realpolitik.

The Midterm was a Huge Win for Trump’s Mideast Policy: Dr. Aviel Sheyin-Stevens, Arutz Sheva, Nov. 18, 2018— Donald Trump’s supporters take him seriously but not literally; whereas, Democrats and their media acolytes, along with Never Trump Republicans, take him literally but not seriously.

On Topic Links

Trump’s Iran Sanctions Could Work: Micha’el Tanchum, Foreign Policy, Nov. 20, 2018

Trump’s Clever Policies Against Iran: Media Line, Nov. 18, 2018

Khashoggi’s Revenge: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Nov. 24, 2018

Donald Trump’s High-Wire Act on the Global Stage: Derek Burney, Globe & Mail, Oct. 25, 2018

 

TRUMP DOESN’T KNOW HISTORY, BUT HE KNOWS IRAN                                                Jonathan S. Tobin                                                                                             

JNS, Nov. 13, 2018

Donald Trump got just about the welcome he should have expected when he showed up to take part in the commemorations of the centennial of the end of World War I this past weekend. The international media excoriated him for skipping one of the memorial services due to bad weather (he attended another such service the following day, despite the rain) and then was subjected to a stern lecture by his host, French President Emmanuel Macron, during another one of the ceremonies.

Trump is being portrayed as unequal to the high-minded leaders of France and Germany, whose current close relations underscore the importance of learning the lessons of history. But while the president seemed out of step with the spirit of the 1918 centennial, on the key challenge currently facing the international community, it is his European critics who are ignoring history and acting selfishly.

There was little doubt who or what Macron was talking about when he spoke of the dangers of “nationalism,” drawing a stark contrast between those who view themselves as “nationalists” and those who view themselves as “patriots.” Speaking at the Arc de Triomphe, Macron told the assembled leaders of Europe: “Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism by saying: ‘Our interest first. Who cares about the others?’”

While Macron’s distinction between nationalism and patriotism is sheer sophistry, it was a message that went over very well for those who fear for the future. His critics think Trump’s “America First” foreign policy and lack of enthusiasm for the NATO alliance, as well as his much publicized interest in better relations with Russia, are tearing apart the post-World War II order that has kept the peace in Europe. Trump’s critics — Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel being the most prominent of them — believe that his emphasis on nationalism is encouraging right-wing governments in Eastern Europe to follow his lead and think less about what’s good for the continent as a whole and more about what’s in it for them.

Set in the context of the effort to recall how unbridled nationalism helped set in motion the catastrophe of the war that tore Europe apart from 1914 to 1918, it sounds like a searing indictment of the president. In that way, Trump’s own condemnation of those who value globalism or pay little attention to the impact of the global economy on local interests is viewed as not merely a narrow and chauvinistic approach to the world, but also a willingness to ignore threats to democracy that can only be met by collective action. Indeed, the whole point of NATO was to ensure that a third European war would not follow the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, as well as to defend small nations against the predatory ambitions of the Soviet Union and its reboot under Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But Russia isn’t the only threat the West faces, and that’s why the Franco-German love-fest at Trump’s expense isn’t quite as principled as the president’s critics claim it to be. Leaving aside the natural resentment many in Europe feel about the high-handed and undemocratic way that the European Union thwarts the efforts of individual nations to decide their own fates, Macron’s sermon is actually deeply hypocritical. Far from exemplifying the principle that the West must think about what is good for all, France and Germany are actually doing the opposite when it comes to Iran.

Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal horrified Macron and Merkel. They are particularly angry about America’s re-imposition of sanctions on the Tehran regime and the Trump administration’s efforts to force the Europeans to go along with his decision. The Europeans see this as the worst example of policies that undermine the Western alliance. But in fact it’s the Europeans who are behaving selfishly.

Trump understands that the Iran deal must be renegotiated because the pact that President Barack Obama proclaimed as solving the nuclear threat is fatally flawed. The deal not only enriched and empowered the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, but its sunset clause ensures that Iran will eventually get a bomb anyway. Rather than joining with him to act to correct this problem and restrain Iranian adventurism — including a mass slaughter in Syria, a bloody war in Yemen, and a standing threat to the security of Sunni Arab nations and Israel — the Europeans prefer to keep doing business with Tehran.

And rather than submit to American leadership on an issue that threatens not merely the Middle East but a European continent that would be in range of Iranian missiles, Macron and Merkel have been exploring options that would allow them to separate entirely from the US economy. They are bluffing about that. But their insistence on vetoing any Western stand against Iran is a dangerous form of appeasement that gives the lie to their claims of learning the lessons of history.

Europe’s wars were caused by the indifference of democracies to the need to stop aggressors before they posed a mortal threat to the world. The greatest tragedies of the 20th century happened because the appeasers — and those who just wanted to make a profit by dealing with rogue regimes — had their way until it was too late to avert catastrophe.

Trump may not be much of a student of history, but he appears to know that much. That’s why he’s right about Iran, and why Macron and Merkel are wrong. All the lectures about nationalism won’t change the fact that on Iran, it is they who are acting in their nation’s selfish interest and Trump who is speaking for the good of the international community. One hundred years after the end of the Great War, that’s a history lesson that can’t be erased by the applause France and Germany are getting from Trump’s critics.

Contents

   

THE IMPLICATIONS OF SANCTIONS FOR THE IRANIAN OIL MARKET

Dr. Doron Itzchakov

BESA, Nov. 25, 2018

On November 5, the Trump government imposed wide-ranging sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran in order to bring about a change in the revolutionary regime’s radical orientation. This round of sanctions places severe restrictions on a wide range of corporations, financial and commercial entities, organizations, and private individuals both in Iran and abroad. The focus of the sanctions is the Iranian energy market, with an emphasis on oil exports, which is the country’s main source of income. The assumption is that constraining Iran’s oil revenues will significantly harm its economic stability and thus force it to change course and return to the negotiating table, this time under new conditions.

On November 2, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the administration’s purpose was to deprive the regime of the revenues with which it spreads death and destruction around the world. However, this goal is inconsistent with the decision to grant temporary exemptions to eight countries, including China and India – Iran’s two biggest oil consumers. The eight countries that have been temporarily exempted are Italy, Turkey, Greece, Taiwan, China, India, South Korea, and Japan. This decision reflects a desire to avoid a shake-up in world oil prices and a pragmatic approach that allows room for maneuver for countries that are not ready or able to immediately stop their purchases of Iranian oil. The decision also reflects the administration’s “carrot and stick” approach, which it employs to maintain balance in the international arena and to obtain the cooperation of weightier countries such as China, India, and Turkey.

A day before the sanctions were imposed, the Islamic Republic marked the 39th anniversary of the takeover of the American embassy in Tehran. During the demonstrations, which were punctuated by chants of hatred against the US and Israel, the government attempted to convey that Iran will be able to withstand the sanctions. Notwithstanding that show of belligerence, it is perfectly clear that the establishment grasps the ramifications of the sanctions for the Iranian economy, indicators of which have been visible ever since Trump announced the departure of the US from the nuclear agreement. Moreover, the economic turmoil caused by the sanctions imposed on Iran during the Obama administration is still engraved in the Iranian collective memory, though at that time, its oil exports did not fall below 1 million barrels per day.

At the time of writing, Iranian oil exports are estimated at 1.6 million barrels per day, but in the 10 months since the beginning of the year (January-October), the daily average was about 2 million barrels. This is due to export volumes of 2.1 to 2.6 million barrels per day between February and July of this year. Bloomberg data on the world oil market show that in 2017, Iran ranked sixth in the world, with an income of about $40 billion. If Iran’s decision-makers can manage to maintain an average export of 1.2 million barrels per day, they will be able to cope with the threat to the sector. Therefore, the decision to allow the eight countries, particularly China and India, to continue to purchase Iranian oil for the time being is a boon to the Iranian side.

The Americans’ “stick and carrot” policy of imposing sanctions but granting a temporary exemption to eight Iranian customers is being interpreted by Tehran as a sign of weakness and a victory for its own foreign policy. While Trump succeeded at bringing the ruler of North Korea to the negotiating table, the Iranian arena is different. The leadership in Tehran hopes that Trump will not win another term, and is willing to tighten the country’s belt until the next US elections. It should also be remembered that in effect, the revolutionary regime has been under American sanctions since the time of its inception; hence its perception that it can overcome the burden of sanctions.

China, the world’s largest oil consumer, is a key element in the Iranian regime’s ability to withstand sanctions. According to OPEC, China’s crude oil consumption will reach 13 million barrels per day by the end of 2019. Beijing purchases the largest share of the Iranian oil market, making it a vitally important ally. Moreover, Beijing and Tehran have joint ventures in many fields, including commercial, security, and geopolitical areas.

The inclusion of China and India, which collectively account for about 65% of Iranian oil exports, on Washington’s list of exemptions is inconsistent with Mike Pompeo’s statement that Washington’s goal is to paralyze Iranian oil exports. In September, the volume of aggregate purchases by China and India stood at about 1.05 million barrels a day out of a total of 1.6 million. It appears, therefore, that despite the decline in the volume of Iranian oil exports, the volume of exports has not yet fallen to the critical level of fewer than 800,000 barrels a day since the date of publication of the resolution on the return of sanctions.

As part of Iran’s bid to preserve its oil revenues, a wide range of purchase proposals, ranging from barter transactions to cash-based payments, have been proposed to circumvent the limitations on the banking system. Tehran recently announced that it was going to sell a million barrels of oil on the energy exchange in an effort to open the oil market to private investors. Of the million barrels, 280,000 were sold. While that result did not meet Tehran’s expectations, it will maintain the trend even at the cost of a significant reduction in oil prices…

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

Contents

   

HOW TRUMP COULD — AND SHOULD — GET TOUGH ON THE SAUDIS           

Elliott Abrams

New York Post, Nov. 22, 2018

As a card-carrying neoconservative, I am usually a critic of realpolitik. But in judging the Trump administration’s response to the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, I find myself thinking that more realpolitik would lead to better policy. Here’s what I mean. The president has made two statements, both of which refuse to break with Saudi Arabia or its crown prince: his formal White House statement and his comments to reporters. Both constitute a kind of realpolitik.

The formal statement begins this way: “The world is a very dangerous place!” In both statements, the president notes the advantages that accrue to the United States from our relationship with the Saudis, principally the arms sales to the kingdom, its investments in the United States, its help in keeping oil prices down and its assistance against terrorism and against Iran more generally.

As to Iran, the president said: “We also need a counterbalance. And Israel needs help also. If we abandon Saudi Arabia, it would be a terrible mistake.” The problem with this analysis is not that it is wrong, but that it posits only two options: abandoning Saudi Arabia or embracing it. A tougher realpolitik approach would promote a third option: Use this moment to push the Saudis to do some things we think they need to do.

Some examples: Patch up their dispute with Canada. More important, patch up their dispute with Qatar and get the Gulf Cooperation Council working again. Rationalize their own government by appointing empowered ministers, instead of having the crown prince in charge of all domestic, economic, defense and foreign-policy aspects of their government. And take some steps on human rights. The president was asked about the last point: “Are you basically telling us, Mr. President, that human rights are too expensive?” Trump replied “No, I’m not saying that at all.” But there is no evidence the United States is pressing the Saudis on that issue.

Now compare the putative master of realpolitik, Richard Nixon. After the massacre at Tiananmen Square in 1989, Nixon — then a private citizen — wrote to the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. Nixon took a tough-minded pose, writing, “I have always believed that a nation’s policy must not be affected by soft-headed friendship, but only by hard-headed reality.” He reaffirmed his belief that US-China relations were of “great benefit to both our countries strategically.” And he had “hard-headed” advice for Deng: “It is imperative that steps be taken now to return China to its rightful place as a civilized member of the world community. It would be a tragedy if China continues to be seen as a repressive throwback to a dark age of the past.”

What steps? Release the physicist and dissident Fang Lizhi. Second, “provide amnesty for those who demonstrated peacefully . . . particularly students.” Third, take some steps providing reassurance about the future of Hong Kong. Two months later, in June 1990, Fang Lizhi and his family were allowed to leave China, and a group of dissidents was released. Perhaps Nixon’s advice, couched not as humanitarian pressure but cold political realism, had an effect.

That is what seems to me missing from recent administration policy on Saudi Arabia. Nixon did not presume that the choices were all or nothing, to embrace China or to break with it. Similarly, if the Trump administration view is that we should not break with Saudi Arabia (a view I share), then the next step is not to embrace Saudi Arabia but rather do what Nixon did: Specify to the Saudis what they need to do so that they will not be seen as “a repressive throwback to a dark age of the past.”

Send the Saudi foreign minister to fix things with Canada. Figure out a way to release the blogger Raif Badawi and the Saudi women’s-rights protesters who appear to have been badly abused since their arrests. Reunite the Gulf Cooperation Council. In his public statements, the president did not do that. Neither did Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in his remarks. Realpolitik policy is missing: how we will use this moment to press the Saudis to do some things we need them to do, in our national interest.

The exception is Trump’s approach to Yemen. Since the Khashoggi killing, the Trump administration has taken a far tougher public stance demanding steps aimed at ending the war there, and it has stopped US aerial refueling of Saudi jets. Now, neither the president nor the secretary is obliged to lay out American demands in public. We must hope the Trump administration is trying in private to exact a price for the public support it is giving the US–Saudi relationship.

Contents

   

THE MIDTERM WAS A HUGE WIN FOR TRUMP’S MIDEAST POLICY                            

Dr. Aviel Sheyin-Stevens                                     

Arutz Sheva, Nov. 18, 2018

Donald Trump’s supporters take him seriously but not literally; whereas, Democrats and their media acolytes, along with Never Trump Republicans, take him literally but not seriously. Before the midterm election, Trump intimated he could win the election and outperform previous presidents who generally lost seats in their first midterm election; however, he also acknowledged that Democrats may win the House. Now, many claim he lost the election. Although the Democratic Party won the House, Trump won the election.

What President Trump achieved by his net gain of Senate seats in the midterm was unprecedented for a Republican. He has also essentially eliminated the Never Trump section of the Republican Party. Since the beginning of his administration, Never Trump Republicans refused to accept his leadership of their party and therefore use every opportunity to undermine him. He has also essentially eliminated the Never Trump section of the Republican Party. The late Senator John McCain blocked Trump’s efforts to repeal Obamacare with his dramatic late-night Senate vote in 2017. McCain’s dramatic, decisive vote against Republicans’ effort to repeal Obamacare was widely perceived as motivated by personal revenge against Trump, because Trump succeeded where he failed. McCain had been in favor of repealing Obamacare, until Trump was elected and wanted it repealed.

Senator Bob Corker, the outgoing chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, undermined Trump’s foreign policies and cast aspersions on the president’s judgment. His actions subverted the credibility of Trump’s foreign policy strategies and empowered Democrats and others to delegitimize Trump’s leadership. In contrast; however, Corker worked heartily with Barack Obama. Corker assisted in securing Obama’s catastrophic Iran nuclear deal. Corker agreed not to treat the deal as a treaty that would have required the support of two thirds of the Senate for ratification, and passed a special law for it that upturned the US Constitution. Rather than requiring a two-thirds majority for ratification, the law required two thirds of the Senate to disapprove the deal to prevent its implementation.

Before the midterm election, Never Trump Senators held the balance of power in the Senate, but not anymore. They would mostly be replaced by pro-Trump people, like Senator-elect Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee who is replacing Corker. Many months ahead of the midterm election, Republican voters kept telling pollsters that the number one issue facing the country was immigration. Meanwhile, they considered tax reform as one of the least pressing issues. Nevertheless, House Republicans surrendered on Trump’s immigration plans to push Paul Ryan’s ‘Tax Reform 2.0’ plan.

House Republicans who spurned running for reelection also contributed to the Democratic takeover of the House. Generally, House incumbents have little trouble holding onto their seats. Since 1964, their reelection rates have consistently been over 80% and often in the high 90s. In this midterm, 39 incumbent Never-Trump House Republicans, many in leadership positions including House Speaker Paul Ryan, chose to retire. Rhe departure of key Never Trump Republicans from the House could make the Republican minority caucus to be more unified than they were as the majority. Thus, they could act more capably as a minority than they were as a fractured majority. Approaching the 2020 election, the Republican Party would be far more coherent ideologically and unified behind Trump’s leadership than it has been for the past two years.

As for the Democrats, fanatically anti-Israel, pro-Hamas candidates Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib won their House races when they ran in safe districts. However, anti-Israel Scott Wallace and Leslie Cockburn who ran in Republican-leaning districts in Pennsylvania and Virginia, respectively, lost their races, whereas moderate Democrats won races in Republican leaning states…

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

 

Contents

On Topic Links

Trump’s Iran Sanctions Could Work: Micha’el Tanchum, Foreign Policy, Nov. 20, 2018—Those who doubt that U.S. President Donald Trump’s Iran sanctions will hit their target should reconsider. It is true that their immediate impact on Iran’s oil export revenues will likely be minimal.

Trump’s Clever Policies Against Iran: Media Line, Nov. 18, 2018—On the morning of November 5, renewed US sanctions against Iran kicked in and Tehran’s hope for a last-minute miracle that would save it from economic meltdown vanished.

Khashoggi’s Revenge: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Nov. 24, 2018—According to Reuters, a group consisting of members of the Saudi royal family plans to replace the son of reigning King Salman, Mohammad, with his uncle, the king’s brother, 76 year old Ahmed bin Abed Al-Aziz.

Donald Trump’s High-Wire Act on the Global Stage: Derek Burney, Globe & Mail, Oct. 25, 2018—U.S. President Donald Trump is taking Teddy Roosevelt’s maxim – “Speak softly and carry a big stick” – and putting it into a higher gear. He talks loudly while brandishing a heavy stick on the world stage.

Harold M. Waller: THE U.S. MIDTERM ELECTIONS

Unlike most countries, the United States holds legislative elections midway through a president’s term.  As a result the country tends to be in campaign mode most of the time.  Indeed the 2020 presidential campaign has started and the Democrats are beginning to think about their prospects for the presidential nomination.

If there is one generalization that is commonly made about the midterm elections it is that the president’s party usually loses seats in Congress.  In 1994, 2006, 2010, and 2014 the opposition party did well and control of one or both houses changed hands.  So 2018 was no exception.  However, the Republicans, who benefited from a favorable Senate map, did manage to hold their majority in the upper House.  Consequently both President Donald Trump and the Democratic congressional leadership could take credit for bucking the trend (Trump and the Senate) or flipping more than the average number of seats (Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi).  As a result it is hard to say which way the wind is blowing.  Both sides will claim that it is blowing at their backs.  Perhaps Bob Dylan can be prevailed upon to explain the wind direction.

Most of the prominent issues were domestic:  immigration (especially illegal), medical insurance, the economy, the Kavanaugh matter, and, most of all, Donald Trump.  Voters held intense views and seemed disinclined to compromise.  Matters such as tariffs and international trade agreements, foreign policy, NAFTA, and relations with Canada did not appear to matter much during the campaign.

In general, Democrats oppose whatever Trump is doing with regard to foreign affairs, but that subject does not count for much in midterm years.  Voters seemed bewildered by a multiplicity of overseas issues, including Russia, China, Korea, Iran, international trade, the Middle East, and Saudi Arabia after the Khashoggi murder.  As for policy toward Israel and the prospects of an Israel-Palestinian peace agreement, there has been a notable drop in support for the Jewish state among Democrats.  Several of the new faces in the House Democratic caucus are overtly hostile to Israel; AIPAC has its work cut out for it.  Moreover, American Jewry is divided about many aspects of policy toward Israel, with the Orthodox being strongly pro-Republican and the non-Orthodox overwhelmingly lined up behind the Democrats. Indeed about 80 percent of American Jews voted Democratic.  That does not augur well for the future.

In addition to Israel-related matters, the resurgence of anti-Semitism was driven home by the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre shortly before the election.  Even before that horrific event, data showed an increase in anti-Semitic attitudes, which the Democrats blamed on Trump.  Although it is not fair to blame him, there is little doubt that racist groups have come out of the woodwork in recent years in response to nationalist rhetoric.

The heated antagonism that characterized the campaign is likely to carry on right through the election.  This is not a time in which one can calmly contemplate the issues that American voters will confront in less than two years.

Dr. Harold M. Waller is a CIJR Academic Fellow

2018 U.S. MID-TERM ELECTION: WILL VOTERS CONTINUE TO SUPPORT TRUMP’S POPULIST MOVEMENT?

Another Shocking GOP Upset is Coming Tuesday: Wayne Allyn Root, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nov. 3, 2018— This is my final column before the midterm election.

The Issues That Tore Us Apart: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, Nov. 6, 2018— Slavery was the issue that blew up America in 1861 and led to the Civil War.

There’s No Going Back. The G.O.P. Is Trump’s Party.: Daniel McCarthy, New York Times, Nov. 1, 2018— Donald Trump’s conservative critics have one last hope: defeat.

In Defence of the Nation-State, and Democracy: Barbara Kay, National Post, Nov. 6, 2018— Although not on the ballot, America’s midterm elections were all about Trump.

On Topic Links

Both the Media and Trump Have a Responsibility to Tone it Down: Michael Goodwin, New York Post, Nov. 3, 2018

Is the Senate in Play?: William Kristol, Weekly Standard, Nov. 5, 2018

Is the GOP’s Trumpian Realignment Permanent?: Noah Rothman, Commentary, Nov. 2, 2018

As Moderates Are Crowded Out, Democrats and Republicans Both Have an Antisemitism Problem: Ian Cooper, Algemeiner, Nov. 5, 2018

 

          ANOTHER SHOCKING GOP UPSET IS COMING TUESDAY                                                                                       Wayne Allyn Root

                                                            Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nov. 3, 2018

This is my final column before the midterm election. This former Vegas oddsmaker turned national political commentator has a few predictions and commonsense observations to make. Back in 2016, I predicted a Donald Trump victory when no one else dared. Every poll showed Trump would lose the presidency to Hillary Clinton by a wide margin. So how did I know?

First: Size matters. You could see it in the rallies. Trump would attract eight-hour lines and overflow attendance at wild, intense rallies all over America. Meanwhile, the attendees at Hillary’s rallies could have fit in my living room. The same held true across America. That was my first clue that Trump was going to pull a huge upset that few saw coming. Second: Trump was “the whisper candidate.” Everywhere I went, people whispered in my ear, “I’m with you. I’m for Trump.” They wouldn’t tell pollsters. They wouldn’t put up yard signs. No bumper stickers on their cars. But they whispered to me.

Don’t look now, but it’s all happening again. Nate Silver says Democrats have a greater than 80 percent chance of winning the House. The Cook Political Report says Democrats will win the House by 40 seats. All the experts say it’s over: Democrats will win. I’ll go out on a limb and disagree again.

I see Andrew Gillum, Florida’s Democratic candidate for governor, holding a rally with Bernie Sanders, and the place is empty. Barack Obama could not fill a high school gym in Milwaukee. I saw Joe Biden and Obama at separate events here in Las Vegas playing to small crowds. Meanwhile, I was opening speaker for President Trump’s event in September at the Las Vegas Convention Center — with thousands waiting in line for hours. Does that sound like the GOP is losing 40 seats? Dream on, delusional Democrats. Nothing has changed. Trump has fulfilled almost all of his campaign promises. And those same voters are whispering to me again. They love Trump, now more than ever.

Third: Common sense. The Trump economy is booming. The latest results are out: 250,000 more jobs last month, far above what was expected. The lowest unemployment in half a century. The number of employed Americans is the highest ever. Wages grew by a remarkable 3.1 percent year over year, the most in almost a decade. Who in their right mind would vote against that? That could be why Trump’s approval rating among blacks is now 40 percent, according to Rasmussen Reports.

Most importantly, Trump brilliantly has kept the emotional issue of illegal immigration front and center. He wants to block the caravan, end birthright citizenship and make it much harder for illegal aliens to claim asylum. A poll from NumbersUSA says 65 percent of likely voters in swing districts across the country agree with Trump. The middle class will come out in record numbers for Trump. Bet on it….[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link]

Contents

   

                                        THE ISSUES THAT TORE US APART                                                                                         Victor Davis Hanson

National Review, Nov. 6, 2018

Slavery was the issue that blew up America in 1861 and led to the Civil War. But for the 85 years between the nation’s founding and that war, it had seemed that somehow America could eventually phase out the horrific institution and do so largely peacefully.

But by 1861, an array of other differences had magnified the great divide over slavery. The plantation class of the South had grown fabulously rich — and solely dependent — on King Cotton and by extension slave labor. It bragged that it was supplying the new mills of the industrial revolution in Europe and had wrongly convinced itself that not just the U.S. but also Britain could not live without Southern plantations. Federal tariffs hurt the exporting South far more than the North. Immigration and industrialization focused on the North, often bypassing the rural, largely Scotch-Irish South, which grew increasingly disconnected culturally from the North.

By 1861, millions of Southerners saw themselves as different from their Northern counterparts, even in how they sounded and acted. And they had convinced themselves that their supposedly superior culture of spirit, chivalry, and bellicosity, without much manufacturing or a middle class, could defeat the juggernaut of Northern industrialism and the mettle of Midwestern yeomanry. Something similar to that array of differences is slowly intensifying America’s traditional liberal–conservative and Democratic–Republican divides.

  1. Globalization: Globalization is accentuating two distinct cultures, not just economically but also culturally and geographically. Anywhere industries based on muscular labor could be outsourced, they often were. Anywhere they could not be so easily outsourced — such as Wall Street, Silicon Valley, the entertainment industry, the media, and academia — consumer markets grew from 300 million to 7 billion. The two coasts with cosmopolitan ports on Asia and Europe thrived.

Perhaps “thrived” is an understatement. Never in the history of civilization had there been such a rapid accumulation of global wealth in private hands as has entered the coffers of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and hundreds of affiliated tech companies. Never have private research marquee universities had such huge multibillion-dollar endowments. Never had the electronic media and social media had such consumer reach. Never has Wall Street had such capital.

The result has been the creation of a new class of millions of coastal hyper-wealthy professionals with salaries five and more times higher than those of affluent counterparts in traditional America. The old working-class Democrat ethos was insidiously superseded by a novel affluent progressivism. Conservationism morphed into radical green activism. Warnings about global warming transmogrified into a fundamentalist religious doctrine. Once contested social issues such as gay marriage, abortion, gun control, and identity politics were now all-or-nothing litmus tests of not just ideological but moral purity.

A strange new progressive profile supplanted the old caricature of a limousine liberal, in that many of the new affluent social-justice warriors rarely seemed to be subject to the ramifications of their own ideological zealotry. New share-the-wealth gentry were as comfortable as right-wing capitalists with private prep schools, expansive and largely apartheid gated neighborhoods, designer cars, apprentices, and vacations.

For the other half of America, cause and effect were soon forgotten, and a new gospel about “losers” (deplorables, irredeemables, crazies, clingers, wacko birds) explained why the red-state interior seemed to stagnate both culturally and economically — as if youth first turned to opioids and thereby drove industry away rather than vice versa. Half the country, the self-described beautiful and smart people, imagined a future of high-tech octopuses, financial investments, health-care services, and ever more government employment. The other half still believed that America could make things, farm, mine, produce gas and oil — if international trade was fair and the government was a partner rather than indifferent or hostile.

  1. Clustering: Cheap transportation and instant communications paradoxically made the country far more familiar and fluid, even as local and distinct state cultures made Americans far more estranged from one another. The ironic result was that Americans got to know far more about states other than their own, and they now had the ability to move easily to places more compatible with their own politics. Self-selection increased, especially among retirees. Small-government, low-tax, pro-business states grew more attractive for the middle classes. Big-government, generous-welfare, and high-tax blue states mostly drew in the poor and the wealthy. Gradually, in the last 20 years, our old differences began to be defined by geography as well.

In the old days, the legacy of frontier life had made Idaho somewhat similar to Colorado. But now immigration and migration made them quite different. East versus West, or North versus South, no longer meant much. Instead, what united a Massachusetts with a California, or an Idaho with Alabama, were their shared views of government, politics, and culture, and whether they shared (or did not share) bicoastal status. The Atlantic and Pacific coasts were set off against the noncoastal states; Portland was similar to Cambridge in the fashion that Nashville and Bozeman voted alike. As was true in 1861 or 1965, geography often intensified existing discord.

III. Open Borders:The old consensus about immigration eroded, namely that while European and British commonwealth immigration was largely declining, it mattered little given that immigration from Latin America, Asia, and Africa would be diverse, meritocratic, measured — and legal. The old melting pot would always turn foreigners into Americans. No one seemed to care whether new arrivals increasingly did not superficially look like most Americans of European descent. After all, soon no one would be able to predict whether a Lopez or a Gonzalez was a conservative or liberal, any more than he had been able to distinguish the politics of a Cuomo from a Giuliani on the basis of shared Italian ancestry.

Indeed, the professed views of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, and Harry Reid before 2009 about illegal immigration were identical to those of Donald Trump in 2018: Secure the border; ensure that immigration was legal and meritocratic; deport many of those who had arrived illegally; and allow some sort of green-card reprieve for illegal aliens who had resided for years in the U.S., were working, and had no arrest record — all in exchange for paying a small fine, learning English, and applying for legal-resident status. The huge influxes of the 1990s and 21st century — 60 million non-native residents (citizens, illegal aliens, and green-card holders) now reside in the U.S. — destroyed that consensus, once shared across the racial and ideological spectrum, from the late civil-rights leader and Democratic representative Barbara Jordan to labor leader Cesar Chavez.

Instead, a new opportunistic and progressive Democratic party assumed that the Latino population now included some 20 million illegal residents, and about that same number of first- and second-generation Hispanics. The 2008 Obama victory raised new possibilities of minority-bloc voting and seemed to offer a winning formula of galvanizing minority voters through salad-bowl identity-politics strategies. Purple states such as California, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico gradually turned blue, apparently due to new legions of minority-bloc voters.

One way of making America progressive was not just winning the war of ideas with voters, but changing the nature and number of voters, namely by welcoming in large numbers of mostly impoverished immigrants, assuring them generous state help, appealing to their old rather than new identities, and thereby creating a new coalition of progressives committed to de facto and perpetually open borders…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link]     Contents

   

THERE’S NO GOING BACK. THE G.O.P. IS TRUMP’S PARTY.

Daniel McCarthy

New York Times, Nov. 1, 2018

Donald Trump’s conservative critics have one last hope: defeat. If Republicans suffer humiliating defeats in the midterm elections, they suggest, President Trump will get the blame. Influential donors and grass-roots Republicans will turn on him, and the party will get back to normal. Not so long ago this was the party of Paul Ryan and free trade. This was the party of George W. Bush and compassionate conservatism. This was a party whose self-performed autopsy after the 2012 election called for more minority outreach. After Mr. Trump, why can’t the Republicans be that party again?

The ranks of anti-Trump Republicans grow thinner by the day. They’re retiring from Congress. They’re writing memoirs blasting their former friends. But they hold out hope for the future. If the Republican Party could undergo such a profound change in personality and policy thanks to just one man in a mere three years, who’s to say it can’t change back? The Trump coalition seems so impermanent, after all, a motley mix of Southern evangelicals, businessmen who think like the Chamber of Commerce and disaffected white voters from the Rust Belt. Throw in foreign-policy hawks and anti-interventionist America Firsters, and Mr. Trump’s Republican Party looks like an impossible contradiction. It can’t last. Can it?

Yes, it can. In fact, the party that President Trump has remade in his image is arguably less divided and in a better position to keep winning the White House than it has been at any time since the 1980s. What Mr. Trump has done is to rediscover the formula that made the landslide Republican Electoral College victories of the Nixon and Reagan years possible. Mr. Trump’s signature themes of economic nationalism and immigration restriction are only 21st-century updates to the issues that brought the Republican Party triumph in all but one of the six presidential elections between 1968 and 1988.

Some of the parallels are obvious. President Trump talks about crime and left-wing agitation in much the same way that Richard Nixon once did — and Ronald Reagan, too, especially during his time as governor of California. Mr. Trump’s combination of force with an aversion to large-scale military interventions and nation-building also bears a resemblance to the policies of Republican presidents past. Dwight Eisenhower and Mr. Reagan also preferred to build up military strength without engaging in the kinds of prolonged wars for which Lyndon Johnson and George W. Bush are remembered. And while Mr. Nixon was mired in Vietnam, he ran as a candidate eager to find an exit.

Mr. Trump’s willingness to deal with even as repellent a dictator as Kim Jong-un has a precedent in the creative diplomacy pursued by Mr. Nixon with Mao Zedong. If Mr. Trump is mocked for saying that he fell in love with Mr. Kim after an exchange of letters, Mr. Reagan was once mocked, too, and by conservatives at that, for his love affair with Mikhail Gorbachev. The foreign leaders may be very different, but the strong Republican’s openness to negotiation is not.

But the most important ways in which Mr. Trump recapitulates the winning themes of earlier Republicans are less direct. Throughout the Cold War, Republicans presented themselves as the party of greater nationalism in the struggle against a global threat. If the United States was to survive in a world that seemed increasingly subjugated by international Communism, the country would have to embrace the party that was most anti-Communist. The Soviet Union is long gone, but our national distinctiveness — the American way of life — is perceived to be under threat by new global forces, this time in the form of competition from China and international economic and regulatory bodies that compromise national sovereignty. Many voters see immigration as part of this story. They want America to control its borders by political choice, not to admit more immigrants because a global labor market insists that more must come for the good of all.

Even in the area where Mr. Trump seems most different from Republicans past, on trade, he has really returned to an older style of politics. Mr. Reagan was an economic nationalist, too, not just because he protected a company like Harley-Davidson against competition from Japan but more important because his pro-growth policies of deregulation and tax cuts were themselves the appropriate forms of economic nationalism for the 1980s. In the decades before the rise of China as an industrial superpower, economic nationalism was chiefly a matter of keeping the American economy entrepreneurial — defending it against red tape and business-unfriendly policies at home rather than the predatory economic strategies of foreign governments…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link]              Contents

   

IN DEFENCE OF THE NATION-STATE, AND DEMOCRACY                                                                   Barbara Kay

                                                National Post, Nov. 6, 2018

Although not on the ballot, America’s midterm elections were all about Trump. Not his policies or unique personality, but the trend throughout the West — loosely defined as populism — that he symbolizes. This was the topic of last Friday’s Munk Debate between David Frum and Stephen Bannon: “Resolved that the future of Western politics is populist, not liberal.” As expected, the uncontroversial, anti-Trump Frum — a chattering-class favourite with a hometown advantage — handily won the numerical vote. But he failed to land a knockout intellectual punch. Bannon, relaxed and emollient in tone, proved an effective debater.

Bannon’s claim is that the argument isn’t whether populism is the future — he considers that question settled — only whether a nationalist or a socialist form of it will triumph (“the rest is just happy talk”). That brought to mind Stephen Harper’s parallel understanding, in his new book, Right Here, Right Now, of broad tribal divisions in the Western world today as the “somewheres” (nationalists) and the “anywheres” (internationalists), neologisms already in circulation, but my first encounter with them.

The “anywheres” are left-leaning elites, representing about a quarter of the population, but disproportionately influential in their dominance of cultural institutions: urbanites steeped in the ideals of globalism, multiculturalism and the free movement of people. They travel a lot. The “somewheres” are rooted in geographical identity — those the philosopher Edmund Burke described in this often-cited text: “To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoons we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections. It is the first link in the series by which we proceed toward a love to our country and to mankind.” Justin Trudeau, an unabashed anywhere, calls himself a “post-nationalist.” Donald Trump is his dialectical opposite. His “America First” mantra offends progressives, but got him elected. The European Union is of course the very model of the anywheres spirit.

Bannon asked a legitimate question: “Why is the nation-state so scorned and demonized (by the post-nationalists)?” Are all nationalisms the same? Are there good nationalisms and bad nationalisms? These are questions Yoram Hazony asks and answers in his new book, The Virtue of Nationalism, in which he sets the particularism of good nationalism against what he calls the new “liberal imperialism” of the universalists. According to Hazony, nationalists believe that their own religion, language and bloodlines have forged them into an extended family, a greater platoon, which is a nation. The bright line between nationalists and liberal imperialists, Hazony says, is that nationalists seek self-determination, while imperialists seek conquest.

Nationalists do not believe that a single universal way of life is right for everyone. A democratic nation-state can live next door to a monarchy or autocracy, without wishing to impose its way of governance. Imperialists, Hazony maintains, feel compelled to extend their vision outward, whether it is the Pax Romana, the Caliphate, or the European Union, which has benign ideals, but imposes its will in far from democratic ways. (Are not universities today a microcosm of left-wing imperialism?)

Hazony proposes Israel as the avatar of a successful nation-state. For all its faults, he says, Israel takes “a principled standpoint that regards the world as governed best when nations are able to chart their own independent course, cultivating their own traditions and pursuing their own interests without interference.” This is the only way for peoples to truly live and let live in ways that optimize the well-being of all distinctive groups, while preserving and safeguarding liberal democracy.

One section of Hazony’s book is called “Anti-Nationalism and Hate.” Europe and American campuses are ablaze with anti-Zionism. It used to be understood that Jews could never be safe without their own nation-state. But Europeans decided nationalism had caused the bloodbaths on their soil, and the only safeguard against repetition of those enormities was assimilation of individual nation-states into a superstate. The refusal of Israelis to think and behave like liberal imperialists infuriates them, Hazony says. (It would also explain why Trump admires Israel, and why 75 per cent of Israelis admire Trump.) Israel’s success, Hazony says, is a rebuke to the European Union and to its failure to live up to its own utopian goals…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link]

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

Both the Media and Trump Have a Responsibility to Tone it Down: Michael Goodwin, New York Post, Nov. 3, 2018— With Tuesday’s election touted as the most important in modern memory, morning-after scenarios run the gamut of possibilities. President Trump will be vindicated by a GOP sweep, weakened by a split decision or endangered if Democrats win both houses of Congress.

Is the Senate in Play?: William Kristol, Weekly Standard, Nov. 5, 2018—I just received an email from the always interesting and often contrarian Bruce Gyory, a longtime New York Democratic strategist.

Is the GOP’s Trumpian Realignment Permanent?: Noah Rothman, Commentary, Nov. 2, 2018— You can never turn back the clock. About that, Modern Age magazine editor Daniel McCarthy is right.

As Moderates Are Crowded Out, Democrats and Republicans Both Have an Antisemitism Problem: Ian Cooper, Algemeiner, Nov. 5, 2018— If it was not apparent already, the Tree of Life mass murder has made clear that antisemitism is alive and well in America. As American Jews weigh their options in Tuesday’s mid-term elections, they should be worried that antisemitism is being aided and abetted on both ends of the political spectrum.

SYNAGOGUE MASSACRE CAUSED BY ANTISEMITIC JEW-HATRED & “DELEGITIMATION” OF ISRAEL, NOT BY TRUMP’S RHETORIC

Trump’s Rhetoric Didn’t Cause this Massacre: Barbara Kay, National Post, Oct. 30, 2018 — The Sabbath massacre in Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue was the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history, but it is not the first time Jews in the United States have been targeted for attack while at worship.

Pittsburgh Synagogue Slaughter Not Easily Explained: Tarek Fatah, Toronto Sun, Oct. 30, 2018— The slaughter of Jews in Pittsburgh by an alleged anti-Semite cannot be easily explained.

American Jewry’s False Prophets: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 1, 2018— Just hours after the largest massacre of Jews in America in US history, the Atlantic Monthly posted a piece by Franklin Foer.

Farmers and Fighters: The Making of the Land: Douglas Feith, Tablet, Oct. 24, 2018— Last autumn was the Balfour Declaration’s hundredth birthday.

On Topic Links

Israel’s Role in the Struggle Against Antisemitism: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 1, 2018

If the Synagogue Shooter Were Muslim, the Media Would Be Defending Him: Daniel Greenfield, Sultan Knish, Oct. 31, 2018

Tears Were Shed: Justin Amler, Jewish Press, Oct. 31, 2018

The Heart Breaks for Many Reasons: Editorial, Arlene From Israel, Oct. 30, 2018

 

                    TRUMP’S RHETORIC DIDN’T CAUSE THIS MASSACRE

                                                 Barbara Kay

                                                            National Post, Oct. 30, 2018

The Sabbath massacre in Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue was the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history, but it is not the first time Jews in the United States have been targeted for attack while at worship. In 1960, a 16-year-old boy threw a bomb into a synagogue in Gladsden, Ala., but it didn’t explode. The would-be massacrist then shot and injured two people fleeing the building. Before that, in 1958, a bomb made of 54 dynamite sticks was thrown into the Temple Beth-El in Birmingham, Ala., and it, too, failed to explode. If it had, it could have killed hundreds.

Nobody remembers disasters that fail to happen. But these near-misses should remind us that evil walks among us at all times, not just “in the age of Trump,” a phrase one continually hears, and that some twisted minds, yearning for a unitary explanation that accounts for their own failures as well as all the other perceived problems in the world, fasten on The Jews. They should also remind us that sporadic hate crimes, even horrific massacres, should not be blamed on an authority figure, however obnoxious, unless that leader actually embodies an inherently hateful ideology or political policy.

So yes, Kristallnacht could be blamed squarely on Hitler and the Nazi party, because racial purity and anti-Semitism were integral aspects of that platform, with violence condoned or encouraged. Terrorism in Europe and Israel can be blamed on Islamist groups, because hatred of Jews and Western culture is inherent to radical Islam, and because such groups proudly and publicly take credit for the carnage. In North America, we can blame neo-Nazi groups and the social media they use for encouraging hatred of Jews, blacks and other minorities. Yet unlike many Islamism-inspired attacks, no organized white supremacist group praised Bowers or implied he acted on their behalf. Bowers was simply an extreme anti-Semite, churning day and night with ugly thoughts and barely contained impulses that finally burst their fragile bounds.

Trump is criticized for a tone that often promotes division among Americans for partisan ends. Fair enough. He’s also slammed for not repudiating these cretins unequivocally. But even if he had, what difference would that have made in this case? Bowers was contemptuous of Trump for his well-known Jewish connections and partiality to Israel. In one post on Gab.com, a site known for hate speech, Bowers wrote, “Trump is surrounded by k****”, “things will stay the course.” If he were inspired by Trump’s perceived indulgence of the alt-right, does it make sense that he would target people Trump identifies with? Would it not be more logical for him to target undocumented Latinos or Muslims, who have legitimate reasons to consider Trump hostile?

If you follow the “logic” that links the synagogue massacre to Trump, the same logic would have Justin Trudeau — widely perceived as hyper-sensitive to Muslim concerns — as the root cause for Alexandre Bissonnette’s rage erupting in the 2017 Quebec mosque massacre. Are we going there? Some people might. Not me. Because then I would just as logically have to wonder if Obama was somehow to blame for the 2015 Charleston church massacre of nine black worshippers by white supremacist Dylann Roof, or consider the failed 1958 and 1960 synagogue bomb explosions somehow the fault of Dwight Eisenhower.

On Dec 6, 1989, lone wolf Marc Lepine massacred 14 women at Montreal’s École Polytechnique. He was not affiliated with any political movement, nor was he inspired by an ideological guru. Nobody blamed prime minister Brian Mulroney for the massacre, or the tense and divided political atmosphere around Meech Lake. Nor should they have. Lepine acted on the urgings of his personal demons. But violence directed specifically against women was new and shocking. Swollen grief and anger demanded a vessel large enough to hold it all. Lepine was a lone wolf, but also a man. And feminists did place the blame for the massacre on what would soon be called the “toxic masculinity” inherent in all men. Society complied. That was morally wrong, and furthermore a great cultural mistake. The White Ribbon campaign the massacre inspired raised awareness around the issue of intimate partner violence, but the message was almost invariably linked to a demonization of men, which has encouraged mutual resentment and mistrust between the sexes.

All the individuals behind these attempted and successful acts of human slaughter are mysteries in the end. A divisive and volatile environment may further excite their dark passions, it is true. A national leader who is careless in his often divisive rhetoric does nothing to calm the social waters. But that’s a far cry from actually causing a massacre. And so, when CNN asked Rabbi Jeffrey Myers if Trump would be welcome at the Tree of Life Synagogue, he wisely replied: “The President of the United States is always welcome. I am a citizen, he is my president. He is always welcome.” That was the right, that was the unifying, thing to say.

 

Contents

   

          PITTSBURGH SYNAGOGUE SLAUGHTER NOT EASILY EXPLAINED                                                                     Tarek Fatah

Toronto Sun, Oct. 30, 2018

 

The slaughter of Jews in Pittsburgh by an alleged anti-Semite cannot be easily explained. After centuries of studying the phenomenon of Jew hatred, few have come up with an answer as to why this tiny segment of our world community faces so much revulsion. Every time there is an incident of violence against Jews, it adds one more ugly scar on the face of our common legacy.

The attack that killed 11 on Saturday in Pittsburgh’s vibrant Jewish community reminded me of the attack on a Jewish community centre in Mumbai, India, 10 years ago. Same target, different assassins. How long will Jews be killed simply because they are too few? Just under 15 million in a world populated by 7 billion other souls. Is it because Jews have contributed far more to humanity than they’ve taken back? Are the rest of us envious of their resilience and ability to survive horrendous discrimination in Christian Europe from medieval times to the Holocaust?

Yesterday, Lorrie Goldstein quoted British Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ explanation of the irrationality and evil nature of Jew Hatred on these pages. “Before the Holocaust,” Rabbi Sacks notes, “Jews were hated because they were poor and because they were rich; because they were communists and because they were capitalists; because they kept to themselves and because they infiltrated everywhere; because they clung to ancient religious beliefs and because they were rootless cosmopolitans who believed nothing.”

Something changed after the Holocaust. For the first time in a millennia, the Jewish state of Israel was founded in the ancient Jewish homeland of the Temple Mount from which Jews had been driven out many times. And that changed the very form of anti-Semitism. Jew hatred gave way to hating Israel. And among the new anti-Semites came “the radical Islamists and others who deny Israel’s right to exist,” says Rabbi Sacks.

Today, Jew hatred is camouflaged under the guise of solidarity with Palestinians. There is hardly a university campus in North America where the left has not made common cause with right-wing Islamists. Instead of exposing themselves as the Jew haters that they are, they target Israel, not ordinary Jews. It’s not Zimbabwe or China they focus on, and certainly not Saudi Arabia or Iran. No, the new Jew hatred is manifested in the targeting of Israel. A Palestinian state is not what they seek; it is the end of Israel as a Jewish state they desire.

For those of us who are not Jews, the Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy has left us with a gem. In 1891, Tolstoy wrote a short essay, “What is a Jew?” He asked, “What kind of a unique creature is this whom all the rulers and nations of the world have disgraced and crushed, expelled and destroyed, persecuted and drowned, who despite their anger and their fury, continues to live and to flourish?”

Offering his own answer, Tolstoy proposes, “The Jew is the symbol of eternity … the one who is for so long guarded the prophetic message and transmitted it to all mankind. A people such as this can never disappear. The Jew is eternal. He is the embodiment of eternity.”

Let Tolstoy’s message sink into our minds. Let it shape our thoughts. Let’s adorn our hearts with Tolstoy’s message as we attempt to erase latent hatred of the other and appreciate the Jewish people and their Jewish state.

Contents

   

AMERICAN JEWRY’S FALSE PROPHETS                                                             

Caroline B. Glick

                                                Jerusalem Post, Nov. 1, 2018

Just hours after the largest massacre of Jews in America in US history, the Atlantic Monthly posted a piece by Franklin Foer. In his “Prayer for Squirrel Hill, and for American Jewry,” Foer wrote, “Any strategy for enhancing the security of American Jewry should involve shunning [President Donald] Trump’s Jewish enablers. Their money should be refused, their presence in synagogues not welcome. They have placed our community in danger.” That is, in the shadow of the blood drenched synagogue, Foer declared war on his fellow Jews.

Between a quarter and 30% of American Jews voted for Trump. A quarter of American Jews intend to vote Republican in next week’s election. Foer wants them all to be ostracized because, he says, they are dangerous. Taken to its logical conclusion, Foer’s statement was also a declaration of war against the Jews of Israel. For as much as Foer and his totalitarian comrades hate Trump, Israeli Jews support him. More than 75% of Israeli Jews consider Trump a great friend.

Foer’s comrade Julia Ioffe from GQ magazine made clear the animosity these leftist/anti-Trump American Jewish media figures harbor toward Israel. In a post on Twitter that was at least as incendiary as Foer’s essay, Ioffe wrote, “And a word to my fellow American Jews: This president makes this [massacre] possible. Here. Where you live. I hope the embassy move over there, where you don’t live was worth it.” In other words, Trump’s support for Israel enables him to persecute American Jews. By supporting Trump for supporting Israel, Israeli Jews and Republican Jews enabled the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue.

Are they right? Do Israeli Jews and politically conservative American Jews facilitate antisemitism in America by supporting Trump? Is Trump an antisemite who covers his malign intentions toward American Jewry by supporting Israel? Although these questions are absurd on their face, now that The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank feels comfortable claiming that Jews are not safe in Donald Trump’s America, it is important to consider them.

So let us consider what Trump has done and said and compare his actions and statements with those of his immediate predecessor, Barack Obama, who most of the American Jews who now blame Trump and his Jewish supporters for the massacre in Pittsburgh supported. The first question we need to address is, what are Israel’s interests in its relations with the US and how do those interests impact American Jews? Israel has an interest in working in alliance with the United States to counter common threats. Trump shares this interest, and has acted to advance it on multiple fronts.

Trump’s decision to abandon his predecessor’s policy of appeasing Iran in favor of a policy of working with Israel and the Sunni Arab states to counter Iran’s regional aggression and power, and block the regime’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, represents a fundamental shift in US foreign policy. It was welcomed by Israel as well as by the Sunni Arab states of the Middle East.

Is this a good or bad thing for American Jewry? Obama’s nuclear deal gave Iran a guaranteed path to nuclear armament within a decade. Since the Iranian regime has repeatedly pledged to annihilate Israel, the deal posed an existential threat to Israel. To secure Senate approval – or rather, to avoid Senate disapproval – of his scandalous deal, the Obama White House directed a media and political strategy of intimidation of lawmakers and American Jewish leaders, abounding with antisemitic demonology. Democratic senators that opposed the deal were under the influence of nefarious “foreign money.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was transformed in Obama’s media echo chamber into the enemy of America. AIPAC lobbyists who campaigned against the deal were branded as agents of a foreign power – that is, traitors – seeking to undermine US interests for the benefit of a hostile foreign power – that is, Israel. The Obama administration’s aggression against Jewish Americans exercising their lawful right to petition their government was unprecedented. The fight it waged against the American Jewish community left the community weakened and vulnerable to attack from the Left as never before.

By disavowing the nuclear deal and endorsing the view of the Jewish community, Trump delegitimized Obama’s bigoted assault against American Jews. Obviously, this is a good thing for American Jews. Israel has an interest in securing its position in the world and ending its second-class status in the international community. That second-class status was long emblemized in the US’s abject refusal to locate the US Embassy in Israel to Israel’s capital city Jerusalem. That longstanding American refusal to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the City of David legitimized the systematic persecution of Israel at the UN and in other international arenas.

Since Jerusalem has been the center of Jewish life and faith for 3,000 years, it is concrete proof that Israel is not a colonial implant and that Jews are the native people of the land. By refusing to recognize Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem, the US joined the rest of the world in calling into question its very right to exist and lend credence to the antisemitic claim that Jews are foreigners in their historic homeland. Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem and his subsequent decision to subordinate the American Consulate in Jerusalem to the US Embassy was a total renunciation of this long-standing bigotry against the Jewish people. Trump’s action was self-evidently a good thing for American Jews. No longer do American Jews need to justify their attachment to Israel. No longer do American Jews need to come on bended knee to the White House and entreat the president to recognize the historical record.

Contrast Trump’s actions with Obama’s actions. Not only did Obama refuse to transfer the US Embassy to Jerusalem, he rejected even symbolic acceptance of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem. The Obama State Department erased all the captions on archival photos of American dignitaries in Jerusalem that referred to the location as Jerusalem, Israel. This petty act demonstrated a deep-seated hostility to the history of the Jewish people and was nothing if not bigoted. Yet, by the lights of Foer, Ioffe, Milbank and their fellow American Jewish Trump-haters, Obama was a friend of American Jews, and Trump and his Jewish supporters are their enemies…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link]

Contents

   

FARMERS AND FIGHTERS: THE MAKING OF THE LAND

Douglas Feith

Tablet, Oct. 24, 2018

Last autumn was the Balfour Declaration’s hundredth birthday. This month marks a hundred years since Britain’s General Allenby completed his World War I conquest of Palestine and Syria. These centenaries relate to the most important–the most basic–argument that anti-Zionists use against Israel today. It’s the assertion that Palestine is Arab land and the Jews had no right to steal it from the Palestinian Arabs. In its somewhat more sophisticated form, the argument is that British imperialists had no right to steal the Palestinians’ country and give it to the Jews.

If you had a child in college and she came home and said she was challenged on this point by a classmate, could you provide her with a response? One way to answer is this: For the 400 years before World War I, Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire, so it was owned by the Turks, not by the Arabs, let alone by the Arabs of Palestine. Palestine is an old but imprecise geographical term. It remained imprecise because there was never a country called Palestine. Even when—long ago— it was under Arab rule, Palestine was never ruled by its own Arab inhabitants.

So it’s not accurate to say that Palestine was a country, nor to say it was Arab land. Neither the Jews nor the British stole it from the Arabs. The original Zionists came to Palestine without the backing of any imperialist or colonialist power. They bought the land on which they settled. And before Britain invaded Palestine in World War I, the Ottoman Turks had joined Germany and attacked Allied forces.

Was it an injustice for Britain to issue the Balfour Declaration in favor of a Jewish national home in Palestine? The question is of more than historical interest for it relates to the current controversy about Israel’s nation-state law, which was adopted this past July. Among other controversial things, that law said, “The fulfillment of the right of national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.”

Consider the Balfour Declaration’s context. When the British war cabinet approved it on Oct. 31, 1917, the world was more than three years into the Great War, the catastrophe now known as World War I, which ultimately destroyed four major empires. Britain was fighting for its life and, because the war was going badly, the government of British Prime Minister H.H. Asquith had fallen at the end of 1916 and David Lloyd George had come to power.

Lloyd George was singularly attuned to the importance of propaganda. He was the first British prime minister in history who had grown up poor. His childhood home didn’t have running water. His political rise testified to the democratization of politics and the power of public opinion.  Within 48 hours after he became prime minister, his cabinet resolved to review British propaganda worldwide. He hoped to win more popular support for the Allies in Greece, Italy, Russia, America and elsewhere. Among British propaganda’s many target audiences was world Jewry. Not unreasonably, the Jews generally were seen as pro-Zionist, with useful influence especially in revolutionary Russia and in Woodrow Wilson’s America.

By embracing Zionism, the British government wanted to give Jews a particular interest in Allied victory. In his memoirs, Lloyd George explained that the Balfour Declaration was “part of our propagandist strategy,” its timing “determined by considerations of war policy.” In other words, colonialism didn’t bring Britain to Palestine. Britain didn’t seize Palestine from an unoffending native population. It conquered the land not from the Arabs, but from Turkey, which (as noted) had joined Britain’s enemies in the war. The Arabs in Palestine fought for Turkey against Britain. The land was enemy territory.

Supporting Zionism appealed to Lloyd George, Balfour and other officials not just on strategic grounds, but also for moral reasons. They sympathized with the Jewish national cause. Zionism was an answer to the historical Jewish question, a way to remedy some of the harm shamefully done to the Jewish people over history. And it would give Jews an opportunity to normalize their place in the world, by building up a national center and a refuge, a country in their ancient homeland where they could become the majority and enjoy self-determination as a people

 

When those officials were young men, George Eliot, in her influential 1876 novel Daniel Deronda, foresaw the creation of a movement to create a “new Jewish polity.” The Jews then, she wrote, in the voice of a Jewish character, “shall have an organic centre” and “the outraged Jew shall have a defense in the court of nations, as the outraged Englishman or American. And the world will gain as Israel gains.”…

 [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link]

 

Article adapted from Douglas Feith’s Keynote Address to

CIJR’s 30th Anniversary Gala in Toronto, 21 October 2018

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

Israel’s Role in the Struggle Against Antisemitism: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 1, 2018—Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett rushed to Pittsburgh this week to represent the government of Israel at memorial events following the terrorist massacre in the Tree of Life Synagogue. So did Israeli Consul General in New York Dani Dayan.

If the Synagogue Shooter Were Muslim, the Media Would Be Defending Him: Daniel Greenfield, Sultan Knish, Oct. 31, 2018—Two types of people plot attacks against Jewish synagogues and community centers: Nazis and Muslims. In 1999, Buford O. Furrow, a white supremacist, opened fire at a Jewish Community Center in the Los Angeles area. He wounded three little boys, their teenage female counselor and an elderly female receptionist. He told the FBI that he wanted this to be “a wake-up call to America to kill Jews.”

Tears Were Shed: Justin Amler, Jewish Press, Oct. 31, 2018—I’ve been staring at my screen for the last few hours trying to work out my feelings about the Pittsburgh massacre. I’ve been trying to find the right words to show how I feel. But how do you explain the horror we saw today?

The Heart Breaks for Many Reasons: Editorial, Arlene From Israel, Oct. 30, 2018—Yesterday, my heart broke over the senseless, anti-Semitic attack in Squirrel Hill that took the lives of 11 Jews, during Shabbat, while they were in synagogue.  I had prayed for healing for the mourners and for the community, and I will continue to pray.

 

 

 

 

IN U.S. MID-TERM ELECTION, “KITCHEN-TABLE ISSUES” WILL LIKELY OUTWEIGH HEADLINE-GRABBING EVENTS

Neither of this Week’s Attacks Will Affect the Midterms: Michael Goodwin, New York Post, Oct. 27, 2018—Whom can we blame? How will it play in November?

Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre Sadly Exposes Linda Sarsour’s Opportunism: Steven Emerson, Algemeiner, Oct. 30, 2018 — Expressions of grief, shock, and solidarity came from all corners as a horrified nation learned about a Jew-hating gunman’s attack on a historic Pittsburgh synagogue.

Midterm Optics Are Bad for Progressives: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, Oct. 25, 2018— For progressives, the looming midterm elections apparently should not hinge on a booming economy, a near-record-low unemployment rate, a strong stock market, and unprecedented energy production.

Democrats Are Blowing It, Again: Bret Stephens, New York Times, Oct. 12, 2018— Michael Kelly, the legendary journalist who died covering the invasion of Iraq in 2003, once wrote that the “animating impulse” of modern liberalism was to “marginalize itself and then enjoy its own company.

On Topic Links

Democrats No Match for ‘Nationalist’ Trump: Konrad Yakabuski, Globe & Mail, Oct. 26, 2018

‘Most Important Election Ever’ — Not: David Harsanyi, New York Post, Oct. 26, 2018

Domestic Issues, Not Israel, Key to Pivotal Jewish Voters in Midterm Elections: Cathryn J. Prince, Times of Israel, Nov. 1, 2018

The Democrats are at a Low Point. Can They Regain Power?: Lawrence Martin, Globe & Mail, Oct. 12, 2018

 

          NEITHER OF THIS WEEK’S ATTACKS WILL AFFECT THE MIDTERMS                                                 Michael Goodwin

New York Post, Oct. 27, 2018

Whom can we blame? How will it play in November? For the second time in a week, those were the crass calculations running through the minds of the political class. First it was the pipe bombs and now it is the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre. In both cases, the instant assumption was that the allegiance of the perpetrator would determine which side would be punished in the midterms and which side would reap the benefits of sympathy.

If this sounds heartless and ghoulish, welcome to America. The politicization of everything is exacting a terrible price on our country, with no crime or tragedy too heinous to exploit. As the number of pipe bombs grew and it became clear that all the targets were Democrats or fierce critics of President Trump, most fingers pointed in the obvious direction. Much of the media rushed to blame the president, and Dem congressional leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi piled on, even denouncing Trump’s call for national unity.

“Time and time again, the president has condoned physical violence and divided Americans with his words and his actions,” they said in a statement that was remarkably harsh and partisan given that the suspect was still at large and fear was growing by the day. Meanwhile, the pattern of targets was too obvious for some in the president’s corner, and they smelled a “false flag” operation. They suspected the bombs were a plant by the left to put the blame on Trump and swing the coming election to the Dems.

But now that we know that suspect Cesar Sayoc, 56, is indeed a Trump supporter, we are back to the original assumptions. Phrases such as “MAGA Bomber” and “Native American Trump Supporter” who drove a “Trump Mobile” convey the tone of most of the media, with some coverage veering into a “we told you so” smugness. For the 1 millionth time, they were sure this would be the final straw in his popularity. Happy days would soon be here again.

And then came Saturday’s slaughter, which scrambles the political playbook because it defies easy assumptions about the fallout. Suspect Robert Bowers is a sick anti-Semite, the carrier of a disease nearly as old as mankind. Because of that, he is no fan of Trump, as he has said on ­social-media posts. For Bowers, Jews are the everything, the sole measuring rod of all things, which makes Trump part of the problem. The president, after all, is a strong supporter of Israel and his daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism to marry Jared Kushner. The fact that Trump also dared to criticize white nationalists after the Charlottesville, Va., incident is proof he cannot be trusted, according to Bowers’ Nazi-like rants.

Still, that distinction may be buried in the rush to gain an edge, and the anti-Trumpers may be correct that the horrors will persuade enough voters in key districts and states that the president is to blame for the rise of political violence. In that case, Dems could sweep both houses and turn Trump into a piñata for the next two years, assuming he isn’t impeached and convicted before his term expires. So a bandwagon of belief is rolling in that direction, but nobody need save me a seat. I’m not convinced the bomb suspect’s support for Trump will swing the election or that the synagogue attack helps Democrats.

Here are three main reasons for my doubts. First, neither suspect was a solid citizen who suddenly turned to violence because of politics. Sayoc is a career criminal whose arrest record goes back three decades, including at least one charge for making terroristic threats. A recent former employer described him as “crazed” but not about politics. He was, as The Post put it in a headline, a “stripper with a steroid problem.” Bowers, based on what we know of him so far, is a freak of the fringe who would not be welcomed in any mainstream political party. His vileness isn’t partisan.

Although the public in general is distressed with gutter-level politics, and most feel Trump makes too many inflammatory comments, it doesn’t automatically follow that these two alleged criminals can be successfully pinned on the president. Just as most Americans did not blame Bernie Sanders when one of his supporters shot Republican Congressman Steve Scalise in a planned assassination attempt last year, most are more likely to believe Sayoc and Bowers are responsible for their own actions.

Second, the speed of events these days means no one storyline dominates for long, even in the anti-Trump-obsessed media. The Brett Kavanaugh confirmation battle looked as if it would determine the election — until the caravan of Central American immigrants making their way toward the southern border vowed to get into the country, one way or another. Both events galvanized GOP voters and quashed most predictions of a blue wave. While it’s clear the media and Democrats will try to reverse the trend by hanging Sayoc and Bowers around Trump’s neck, that approach probably will work only with those already opposed to Trump.

Besides, the president’s supporters can — and already are — pointing to left-wing violence by antifa and comments by Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, Maxine Waters and other Dems urging an uncivil campaign of harassment against Republicans. And The New York Times didn’t help the left’s cause with its outrageous publication of an article that fantasizes about an assassination of the president. Shamefully, the Gray Lady’s demand for civility doesn’t extend to its own conduct.

The economy is the third reason for my doubts that last week will dramatically reshape the election. Most Americans in the workforce today have never seen anything like the jobs boom and the rising incomes that go with historic low unemployment. To most voters, kitchen-table issues almost always outweigh headline-grabbing incidents, even horrible ones, a fact often lost on elite bubble dwellers. The media especially continue to fall hard for the illusion that the public trusts them to decide what matters most.

In short, I’m having that déjà vu feeling all over again. Much as they were in 2016, too many know-it-alls are 100 percent certain about which way the wind will blow on Nov. 6. The skeptic in me suspects they still are confusing facts with their own bias. My only certainty now is the same one I had two years ago: Voters have a mind of their own. Thank God for that.

Contents

   

                              PITTSBURGH SYNAGOGUE MASSACRE SADLY

EXPOSES LINDA SARSOUR’S OPPORTUNISM                                                             

Steven Emerson

Algemeiner, Oct. 30, 2018

Expressions of grief, shock, and solidarity came from all corners as a horrified nation learned about a Jew-hating gunman’s attack on a historic Pittsburgh synagogue. Eleven Jews were killed because they were Jews, gathered for Shabbat services at the Tree of Life synagogue. Four Pittsburgh law enforcement officers were wounded as they raced toward the gunfire and prevented the tragedy from becoming even greater. But one person’s statements of grief and solidarity stand out, largely because it contrasts a long record of sowing enmity and antisemitism. During a vigil on Sunday outside the White House, Linda Sarsour, microphone in hand, spoke of love and solidarity with American Jews. “I hope that you commit and you join me and my sisters and brothers who are here today, to resist hate and choose unrelenting love every single time,” she said.

Her organization, MPower Change, issued a similar statement in Sarsour’s name, expressing “solidarity with our Jewish family, especially the community in Pittsburgh, after today’s horrific shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue. In the face of overwhelming hate, we choose unrelenting love and unity. We recommit ourselves to dismantling antisemitism and all forms of racism.” How nice. If she is sincere, however, Sarsour would do well to revisit the years of hatred she has expressed against Israel, the Jewish state, which is a vital safeguard for Jews threatened by antisemitism around the globe. And she won’t have to look back very far.

Just last month, Sarsour spoke at the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)’s national convention. She called herself an “unapologetic, pro-BDS, one-state solution supporting resistance supporter.” By definition then, Sarsour’s ultimate ambition is a world with no Jewish state. BDS has been blasted as antisemitic, including by the Berlin State Office for the Protection of the Constitution, because it seeks to isolate Israel and many BDS leaders advocate Israel’s elimination. And a one-state solution would flood Israel demographically, stripping it of its Jewish majority.

At the same convention, Sarsour blamed the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) — the most prominent Jewish advocacy group in America — for the deaths of unarmed black people at the hands of police. Why? Because the ADL runs a program that takes high-ranking police officials to Israel, where they learn about fighting terrorism and other threats. To Sarsour, that means American police officers must “come back here and do what? Stop and frisk, killing unarmed black people across the country.”…

Sarsour also argued at the ISNA convention that Muslims should not defend or “actually try to humanize the oppressor,” which was a reference to Israel. Sarsour knows that she is seen as an antisemite. She made a video last year that seemed cynically devised to shut down those concerns. But in trying to condemn Jew-hatred, Sarsour couldn’t help but minimize its severity, saying, “It’s different than anti-Black racism or Islamophobia because it’s not systemic.” During a discussion at New York’s New School a year ago, she blamed “Jewish media” for giving her a bad reputation. Sarsour famously tweeted, “Nothing is creepier than Zionism,” and rejected offers of solidarity from pro-Israel Jews that are similar to what she claims to offer after the Pittsburgh massacre. Those aren’t views limited to criticism of specific Israeli policies, but a wholesale rejection of a Jewish homeland.

There are about 14.5 million Jews in the world, nearly half — 6.5 million — of whom live in Israel. Another estimated 5.7 million live here in the United States, France, Canada, and the United Kingdom. For the sake of argument, say only half of those Jews living outside Israel consider themselves Zionists (though the available data indicates the figure is much higher). But that means that nearly 10 million of the world’s 14.5 million Jews are Zionists. Sarsour, by her own words, is hostile toward about 70 percent of world Jewry. But she’s no antisemite? She and her Women’s March colleagues have refused to condemn Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, even after he said that “powerful Jews are my enemy,” and recently called Jews “termites.”

Was the slaughter at the Tree of Life synagogue a turning point for Sarsour? It’s a valid question, considering her embrace of Rasmieh Odeh, a woman who was convicted in the 1969 bombing of a Jerusalem grocery store that killed two Israeli students. Odeh’s friend acknowledged her central role in the bombing plot — on camera — and Israeli investigators found similar explosives in Odeh’s bedroom. Still, Sarsour said that she was “honored and privileged” to be in Odeh’s presence last year — just before Odeh was deported for naturalization fraud.

And all of this doesn’t even address Sarsour’s inability to condemn Hamas or acknowledge that its obsession with destroying Israel makes life for Palestinians in Gaza worse every day. Sarsour spoke with emotion on Sunday. Her voice cracked at times, and if you didn’t know her, you’d think she was offering a sincere, heartfelt expression of grief, love, and support. The problem is that we do know Sarsour. And we know that our skepticism is more than justified.

Contents

   

MIDTERM OPTICS ARE BAD FOR PROGRESSIVES                                                   

Victor Davis Hanson

                                                National Review, Oct. 25, 2018

For progressives, the looming midterm elections apparently should not hinge on a booming economy, a near-record-low unemployment rate, a strong stock market, and unprecedented energy production. Instead, progressives hope that race and gender questions overshadow pocketbook issues. The media are fixated on another caravan of foreign nationals flowing toward the United States from Central America. More than 5,000 mostly Honduran migrants say they will cross through Mexico. Then they plan to crash the American border, enter the U.S. illegally, claim refugee status, and demand asylum. Once inside the United States, the newcomers will count on a variety of ways to avoid deportation.

This gambit appears mysteriously timed to arrive right before the U.S. midterms — apparently to create empathy and sway voters toward progressive candidates supporting a more relaxed immigration policy. Open-borders advocates and progressives assume that if border-security officials are forced to detain the intruders and separate parents who broke the law from their children, it will make President Trump and Republican candidates appear cold-hearted and callous. Earlier this year, a similar border melodrama became sensationalized in the media and almost certainly dropped Trump’s approval ratings. But this time around, the optics may be different.

The new caravan appears strangely well organized. The marchers, many of them young men, do not appear destitute. They do not seem to fit the profile of desperate refugees whose lives were in immediate danger in their homeland. For many Americans, the would-be refugees may seem presumptuous in assuming that they have the right to barge into someone else’s country. Most Americans realize that if an organized caravan of foreigners can simply announce in advance plans to crash into the U.S. illegally, then the concepts of a border, citizenship, sovereignty, and even a country itself no longer exist.

A number of other events on the eve of the midterm elections also may have the opposite of the intended effect on voters. The Supreme Court nomination hearings for Brett Kavanaugh ended up as scripted melodrama. Protesters disrupted the Senate on cue. They screamed from the gallery. Democratic senators staged a walkout. They filibustered and interrupted the proceedings. Their collective aim was to show America that male Republican senators were insensitive to the feelings and charges of Christine Blasey Ford, and therefore callous and sexist.

Ford had alleged that Kavanaugh 36 years earlier had sexually assaulted her at a party when they were both teenagers. But she produced no corroborating testimony, physical evidence, or witnesses. Many of her assertions were contested by other people. Many Americans finally concluded that there was no reason to deny Kavanaugh’s nomination to the court. To find Kavanaugh guilty of Ford’s charges, Americans were asked to suspend the very ideas of due process and Western jurisprudence. The furious demonstrations that followed Kavanaugh’s confirmation only made the optics worse. Republican senators were confronted at their offices and on elevators. Protesters broke through police cordons and beat and scratched at the Supreme Court doors, apparently in vain efforts to break in and disrupt the swearing-in ceremonies. Liberal icons such as Hillary Clinton, former attorney general Eric Holder, and Senator Cory Booker seemed to encourage the incivility and disruptions.

Did the ongoing chaos work to change public opinion in their direction? Perhaps not. Most Americans do not want frenzied shriekers scratching at doors on Capitol Hill. They are turned off by shouters popping up in Senate galleries. Few are comfortable with efforts to bully or intimidate senators rather than to persuade them. In yet another misreading of the public, Senator Elizabeth Warren produced the results of a DNA test to prove she had properly claimed advantageous minority status on the basis of her alleged Native American family history. But the test only confirmed that Warren might be 1 percent (or less) Native American and is probably not from a tribe in the continental U.S…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link]

Contents

   

DEMOCRATS ARE BLOWING IT, AGAIN

Bret Stephens

New York Times, Oct. 12, 2018

Michael Kelly, the legendary journalist who died covering the invasion of Iraq in 2003, once wrote that the “animating impulse” of modern liberalism was to “marginalize itself and then enjoy its own company. And to make itself as unattractive to as many as possible.” “If it were a person,” he added, “it would pierce its tongue.”

I thought of that line while reading a tweet from Nate Cohn, The Times’s polling guru: “Take everything together, and, on balance, it’s been a good 10 days of state/cd polling for the GOP in a lot of important battlegrounds.” The “cd” refers to congressional districts, where Republicans now have at least a fighting chance of holding on to a majority despite the widely anticipated blue wave. Even better are Republican chances of holding the Senate. On Sept. 30, RealClearPolitics gave the G.O.P. a lock on 47 seats, with 9 tossups. Now it’s 50 and 6, with races in Tennessee, Texas, and North Dakota increasingly leaning right. Donald Trump’s approval rating is also up from a month ago.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. Not during a midterm when the opposition party almost always gains seats. Not after 21 months of Trumpian chaos. Not after a year of #MeToo. Not after Christine Blasey Ford’s emotional testimony and Brett Kavanaugh’s angry retort. And yet it is. Predictably. Once again, American liberalism has pierced its own tongue. It pierced its tongue on CNN this week, when Hillary Clinton told Christiane Amanpour that “you cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.” And when former Attorney General Eric Holder said Sunday, “When they go low, we kick ’em.”

It pierced its tongue last week when New York’s Representative Jerrold Nadler pledged to use a Democratic House majority to open an investigation into Kavanaugh’s alleged perjury and the “whitewash” investigation by the F.B.I. A party that can’t change its mind and won’t change the subject meets the classic definition of a fanatic. It pierced its tongue last month when Cory Booker and Kamala Harris turned Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing into audition tapes for their presidential bids, complete with “I am Spartacus” histrionics and bald misrepresentations about Kavanaugh’s views on racial profiling and contraception.

It pierced its tongue when Minority Leader Chuck Schumer chose to make Kavanaugh’s confirmation the year’s decisive political test, rather than run a broad referendum on Trump’s inglorious tenure. As I wrote in July, the political strategy was guaranteed to hurt red-state Democrats, as they were put “to the choice of looking like political sellouts if they vote for Kavanaugh, or moral cowards if they don’t.” It pierced its tongue when The New Yorker violated normal journalistic standards by reporting Deborah Ramirez’s uncorroborated allegation against Kavanaugh, and much of the rest of the media gave credence to Julie Swetnick’s lurid one. The pile-on wound up doing more to stiffen Republican spines against an apparent witch hunt than it did to weaken their resolve in the face of Blasey’s powerful accusation…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link]

 

Contents

On Topic Links

Democrats No Match for ‘Nationalist’ Trump: Konrad Yakabuski, Globe & Mail, Oct. 26, 2018—A funny thing happened on the way to the U.S. midterm elections.

‘Most Important Election Ever’ — Not: David Harsanyi, New York Post, Oct. 26, 2018—If you believe that a midterm election in a time of relative peace and economic prosperity is the most important in history or even the most important in your fortunate lifetime, you either are oblivious to history or don’t have a single nonpartisan synapse firing in your skull.

Domestic Issues, Not Israel, Key to Pivotal Jewish Voters in Midterm Elections: Cathryn J. Prince, Times of Israel, Nov. 1, 2018—When Republican candidate for Florida governor Rick DeSantis was asked at an October 21 debate whether President Donald Trump is a role model for kids, he pivoted — to Israel.

The Democrats are at a Low Point. Can They Regain Power?: Lawrence Martin, Globe & Mail, Oct. 12, 2018—Whatever happened, it is often asked, to the Republican Party?

 

TRUMP’S DETRACTORS DISAPPOINTED THAT, DESPITE MEDIA HYSTERIA, HE “ISN’T GOING ANYWHERE”

Trump’s Demise has Been Greatly Exaggerated: Kyle Smith, New York Post, July 28, 2018— This time they’ve surely got him. Pack your bags, Mr. President. The game is up.

The Clinton Campaign Sought Dirt on Trump From Russian Officials. Where’s the Outrage?: Marc A. Thiessen, Washington Post, Aug. 2, 2018— All of Washington is waiting with bated breath to find out whether the Mueller investigation will provide evidence proving that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

Trump Is Right: We Need a Space Force: Noah Rothman, Commentary, Aug. 9, 2018— When President Donald Trump first floated the idea of creating an entirely new branch of the United States armed forces dedicated to space-based operations in March, the response from lay political observers was limited to bemused snickering.

Trump’s Foreign Policy is Actually Boosting America’s Standing: Michael Goodwin, New York Post, Aug. 11, 2018 — A story is supposed to have  two sides, but there is only  one when it comes to President Trump’s foreign policy.

On Topic Links

U.S. President Trump: A Balance Sheet: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, July 25, 2018

Chomsky Calls Russian Interference a Joke – Blames Guess Who?: Alan M. Dershowitz, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 3, 2018

The Legacies of Robert Mueller’s Investigations: Victor Davis Hanson, American Greatness, Aug. 13th, 2018

The Myth of a Rising ‘Alt-Right’: Jonathan S. Tobin, New York Post, Aug. 13, 2018

 

TRUMP’S DEMISE HAS BEEN GREATLY EXAGGERATED

Kyle Smith

New York Post, July 28, 2018

 

This time they’ve surely got him. Pack your bags, Mr. President. The game is up. Because this week we learned that . . . that . . . well, there’s this tape, see, recorded by Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen in September 2016, during which the then-presidential candidate discussed setting up a company for the purpose of paying off alleged former paramour Karen McDougal to make her go away.

Did Trump and Cohen actually pay her off? No, but . . . but . . . c’mon, it would have been a campaign finance violation! If it had happened. Or it was sort of a campaign finance violation once removed, because the company that owns the National Enquirer paid for the rights to the McDougal story but then never ran anything on it, and maybe Trump knew about this!

Trump-is-doomed stories are one of the media’s favorite fairy tales. Remember when you saw “Peter Pan” when you were 4 and you actually thought that clapping for Tinkerbell would bring her back to life? Pundits think that if they cheer loudly enough for Trump to get eighty-sixed, it’ll happen. His (first?) term in office is more than a third over, and the Very Serious Commentators have been ushering him out the door the entire time. Or at least they’ve been trying to. It turns out that Trump doesn’t pay a lot of attention to the usher-pundits.

“Michael Cohen and the End Stage of the Trump Presidency,” ran a headline in The New Yorker. That was back on April 14. Writer Adam Davidson gravely averred, “This is the week we know, with increasing certainty, that we are entering the last phase of the Trump Presidency. This doesn’t feel like a prophecy; it feels like a simple statement of the apparent truth.” Can something really be a “certainty” if its odds are still “increasing”? Death is a certainty. The likelihood of it occurring is, however, quite stable.

But, hey, Davidson could be right. Remember when Karl Marx said it was an inevitable historical fact that capitalism would die? It’s only been 150 years — give the man time! By contrast, recall that, a year before Davidson turned The New Yorker into his personal prophecy-delivery system, The Independent promised (May 18, 2017), “This is how Donald Trump’s presidency will crumble in the next year.” Amateurish. Never supply an expiration date that could falsify your claim. Be thunderously certain, pundits — but be vague in your certainty.

Another favorite pundit trick is the “closing wall” metaphor. Stand clear of your closing walls, Mr. President! New York City Congressman Jerry Nadler said on May 21 that Trump “is very upset that the walls are closing in, and that the investigators are closing in on him.” Nadler was echoing Stephen Colbert, from April 11 (“The walls have been closing in on the president, and he’s not happy,”) and The Daily Beast of March 12 (“The Walls Are Closing in on Trump”). These walls are certainly taking their time. “The walls are closing in on Donald Trump — and he’s starting to lose it,” claimed The New Republic back on May 18, 2017. That was a year and a quarter ago. Have you ever heard of closing walls that moved so imperceptibly that after 15 months, there was still no movement discernible to the naked eye? These walls are moving more slowly than the plot of “Blade Runner 2049.”

There’s really no need for the walls to smush Trump, though, because the noose will surely get him first. Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC said on Jan. 10, “The noose is tightening around the Trump White House and the Trump family.” Trump is “shocked that the noose is tightening,” said Mika Brzezinski on “Morning Joe.” That was back on Dec. 5. Senator and not-quite-vice-president Tim Kaine detected the noose way back in May 2017, when he said, “We have a deeply insecure president who understands the noose is tightening because of this Russia investigation.” This was about 65 weeks ago, when Trump fired James Comey. Remember how that was absolutely definitely certainly going to bring down Trump?

It was the Daily Kos that really had Trump nailed, in a piece called “Trump Endgame.” This one warned us that “events are escalating rapidly with the Trump regime” and that “Trump is not capable of a slow stripping of democratic norms, processes and rights . . . he wants to win it now . . . we are in a struggle, the fate of the nation is at stake.” Etcetera. Etcetera. This piece (which speculated hopefully that maybe “Trump is forced out in a coup”) ran on Jan. 30, 2017 — 10 days into the Trump presidency.

Don’t despair, activists and fantasists and rageaholics. Keep clapping like you did for Tinkerbell when you were 4. If you ever lose faith in fairy tales and it occurs to you that Trump isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, though, there is something you can do. You can keep smashing up Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with a pickax. That’ll show him!

                                                                        Contents

   

 

THE CLINTON CAMPAIGN SOUGHT DIRT ON TRUMP

FROM RUSSIAN OFFICIALS. WHERE’S THE OUTRAGE?

Marc A. Thiessen

                                                Washington Post, Aug. 2, 2018

 

All of Washington is waiting with bated breath to find out whether the Mueller investigation will provide evidence proving that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. So far, Exhibit A against President Trump is the meeting Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort had with a group of Russians claiming to have dirt on Hillary Clinton. That meeting should never have happened. When you get an email offering to provide “very high level and sensitive information” from the “Crown prosecutor of Russia” that could “incriminate Hillary” Clinton and is part of “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump” you don’t reply by saying “I love it.” You call the FBI.

The president claims he did not know about the meeting. His former lawyer Michael Cohen says he did. Whether he knew is beside the point. Senior officials of his campaign were willing to accept help from Vladimir Putin; they were saved only because the meeting was a bust. The Russians didn’t end up providing any dirt. But as bad as the Trump Tower meeting was, it took place at the request of the Russians. They were the ones who approached the Trump campaign, not the other way around.

By contrast, the Clinton campaign proactively sought dirt on Trump from Russian government sources. They did it through cutouts. In April 2016, Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias retained opposition research firm Fusion GPS to compile incriminating information on Trump. Fusion GPS in turn hired Christopher Steele, a former British MI6 operative with sources among Russian government officials. The result was the salacious dossier, whose sources included “a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure” and “a former top level intelligence officer still active in the Kremlin.” Steele’s work was paid for by Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee. That means a paid agent of the Clinton campaign approached Russian officials for damaging material on Trump.

Clinton claims she did not know about Steele’s work. It doesn’t matter. Imagine if Cohen, or another lawyer paid by the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee, had hired a former British spy with campaign money to collect dirt on Clinton from Russian intelligence and foreign ministry officials. Do you think that everyone in Washington would be saying: “There’s no evidence Trump knew, so no big deal — nothing to see here”? Of course not.

Moreover, Clinton officials have defended Steele’s actions. Brian Fallon, Clinton’s campaign spokesman, has said he “would have volunteered to go to Europe and try to help” Steele and would happily have spread dirt obtained from the Russians. “Opposition research happens on every campaign,” he told The Post. He also said: “I am damn glad [Elias] pursued this on behalf of our campaign and only regret more of this material was not verified in time for the voters to learn it before the election.” In other words, “I love it.”

We also know that the Democrats covered up their involvement. The dossier was published by BuzzFeed in January, but it was not until Oct. 24, 2017 — more than nine months later — that Americans learned it was the DNC and the Clinton campaign that paid for it. If it did nothing wrong, why did Team Clinton leave Americans in the dark about its involvement for so long? Let’s be clear: None of this excuses the Trump campaign’s reprehensible behavior in accepting a meeting with Russians claiming to be government agents offering dirt on Clinton. Mueller’s investigation is not a witch hunt. If Mueller finds that anyone on the Trump campaign entered into a criminal conspiracy with Russia, they should go to jail.

Furthermore, none of this calls into question the intelligence community’s assessment that the Russians wanted Trump to win — something Putin publicly confirmed in his Helsinki news conference with Trump. But the intelligence community assessment also found that the Kremlin expected Clinton to win. The Russians are not stupid. They were preparing for the prospect of a Clinton presidency, and they played both sides. That’s why millions of dollars in Russian cash were sloshing around Clinton World — including $500,000 Bill Clinton received for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin.

Russians continue to pose a threat. Their goal, according to our intelligence community, was not just to help Trump but also to “undermine public faith in the US democratic process.” They are playing a long game. If we are to counter the Russian threat, we need to understand its complexities — and that means we have to look beyond Trump.

                                                                        Contents

             

                                                  TRUMP IS RIGHT: WE NEED A SPACE FORCE

                                                         Noah Rothman

                                                                        Commentary, Aug. 9, 2018

 

When President Donald Trump first floated the idea of creating an entirely new branch of the United States armed forces dedicated to space-based operations in March, the response from lay political observers was limited to bemused snickering. That mockery and amusement have not abated in the intervening months. Thursday’s announcement by Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Defense James Mattis, that the administration plans to establish a sixth armed forces branch by 2020, occasioned only more displays of cynicism, but it shouldn’t have. This is deadly serious stuff. The expansion and consolidation of America’s capacities to defend its interests outside the atmosphere is inevitable and desirable.

Though you would not know it from those who spent the day chuckling to themselves over the prospect of an American space command, the militarization of this strategically vital region is decades old. Thousands of both civilian and military communications and navigations satellites operate in earth orbit, to say nothing of the occasional human. It’s impossible to say how many weapons are already stationed in orbit because many of these platforms are “dual use,” meaning that they could be transformed into kill vehicles at a moment’s notice.

American military planners have been preoccupied with the preservation of critical U.S. communications infrastructure in space since at least 2007, when China stunned observers by launching a missile that intercepted and destroyed a satellite, creating thousands of pieces of debris hurtling around the earth at speeds faster than any bullet.

America’s chief strategic competitors—Russia and China—and rogue actors like Iran and North Korea are all committed to developing the capability to target America’s command-and-control infrastructure, a lot of which is space-based. Trump’s Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats testified in 2017 that both Moscow and Beijing are “considering attacks against satellite systems as part of their future warfare doctrine” and are developing the requisite anti-satellite technology—despite their false public commitments to the “nonweaponization of space and ‘no first placement’ of weapons in space.”

Those who oppose the creation of a space branch object on a variety of grounds, some of them merit more attention than others. The contention that a sixth military branch is a redundant waste of taxpayer money, for example, is a more salient than cynical claims that Trump is interested only in a glory project. “I oppose the creation of a new military service and additional organizational layers at a time when we are focused on reducing overhead and integrating joint warfighting functions,” Sec. Mattis wrote in October of last year. That’s a perfectly sound argument against excessive bureaucratization and profligacy, but it is silent on the necessity of a space command. Both the Pentagon and the National Security Council are behind the creation of a “U.S. Space Command” in lieu of the congressional action required to establish a new branch of the armed forces dedicated to space-based operations.

As for bureaucratic sprawl, in 2015, the diffusion of space-related experts and capabilities across the armed services led the Air Force to create a single space advisor to coordinate those capabilities for the Defense Department. But that patch did not resolve the problems and, in 2017, Congress’s General Accountability Office recommended investigating the creation of a single branch dedicated to space for the purposes of consolidation.

It is true that the existing branches maintain capabilities that extend into space, which would superficially make a Space Force seem redundant. But American air power was once the province of the U.S. Army and Navy, and bureaucratic elements within these two branches opposed the creation of a U.S. Air Force in 1947. The importance of air power in World War II and the likelihood that aircraft would be a critical feature of future warfighting convinced policymakers that a unified command of operations was critical to effective warfighting. Moreover, both Dwight Eisenhower and Harry Truman believed that creating a separate branch for airpower ensured that Congress would be less likely to underfund the vital enterprise.

The final argument against the militarization of space is a rehash of themes from the Cold War. Low earth orbit, like the seafloor and the Antarctic, is part of the “global commons,” and should not be militarized on principle. This was the Soviet position, and Moscow’s fellow travelers in the West regularly echoed it. But the argument is simply not compelling.

The Soviets insisted that the militarization of space was provocative and undesirable, but mostly because they lacked the capability to weaponize space. The Soviets regularly argued that any technology it could not match was a first-strike weapon. That’s why they argued vigorously against deploying missile interceptors but voiced fewer objections to ground-based laser technology. As for the “global commons,” that’s just what we call the places where humans do not operate for extended periods of time and where resource extraction is cost prohibitive. The more viable the exploration of these hostile environments becomes, the less “common” we will eventually consider them.

Just as navies police sea lanes, the inevitable commercialization of space ensures that its militarization will follow. That isn’t something to fear or lament. It’s not only unavoidable; it’s a civilizational advance. Space Force may not be an idea whose time has come, but deterrence is based on supremacy and supremacy is the product of proactivity. God forbid there comes a day on which we need an integrated response to a state actor with capabilities in space, we will be glad that we didn’t wait for the crisis before resolving to do what is necessary.

                                                                        Contents

   

TRUMP’S FOREIGN POLICY IS ACTUALLY

BOOSTING AMERICA’S STANDING

Michael Goodwin

New York Post, Aug. 11, 2018

A story is supposed to have two sides, but there is only one when it comes to President Trump’s foreign policy. Most American media treat his every effort as a savage assault on a harmonious world order. Whether it’s the trade dispute with China, his pushing North Korea to scuttle its nukes or his demand that NATO members spend more on defense, the headlines sound the same shrieking note: “Trump inflames . . . Trump escalates . . . Trump doubles down . . . Trump risks . . .”

The parade of horribles continues to this day, but it will be hard to out-fear-monger a Time magazine headline from May: “By Violating Iran Deal, Trump Jeopardizes National Security.” But since the world hasn’t ended and since we’re not dead yet, I humbly suggest it’s time to take a deep breath and consider the other side of the story.

We don’t have to look far. Numerous signs are popping up that the impact of Trump’s policies is far from the disastrous scenario the media predict. By wielding America’s power instead of apologizing for it, and by keeping his focus on jobs and national security, Trump is making progress in fixing the ruinous status quo he inherited. America First, it turns out, is more than a slogan. It is a road map to reshaping America’s relationship with friend and foe alike.

Take China. Despite press accusations that Trump risks a global recession with tariffs on Chinese imports, recent reports from China say there is growing criticism there over how President Xi Jinping is handling Trump. One brave professor published an essay citing “rising anxiety” and “a degree of panic” about Xi’s combativeness on the issue and his autocratic ways. Others told the New York Times and CNBC that China’s leaders should be flexible toward Trump’s push for a more equal trading system. They said boasts and threats from Chinese officials and retaliatory tariffs on American soybeans and other products are raising fears that Xi is courting chaos by overestimating China’s international clout. “China should adopt a lower profile,” one foreign policy expert there told the Times. “Don’t create this atmosphere that we’re about to supplant the American model.”

Turkey is testing Trump by seizing an American pastor, Andrew Brunson, and refusing to release him. Instead of paying a ransom or making concessions, Trump’s team levied sanctions on two Turkish cabinet members and doubled tariffs on steel and aluminum, which sent panic through currency markets. The Turkish lira lost 13 percent of its value against the dollar in one day and inflation stands at an ­estimated 85 percent. The erratic Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has silenced nearly all opposition but revealed the pressure he’s feeling when he cryptically declared, “If they have their dollars, we have our people, our God.” He urged Turks to exchange gold and other valuables for the lira in hopes of stopping the rout. Good luck with that.

Then there’s Iran. Notwithstanding Time magazine’s scare claim, Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear accord and last week’s imposition of sanctions aimed at the government and certain industries are adding to the economic pressure on the mullahs. For months, demonstrations and strikes have focused on inflation, water shortages and rampant corruption, all amplified on social media. Some protesters criticize Iran’s involvement in Syria and its support of Hamas in Gaza while neglecting despair at home. Even before the sanctions, the Iranian rial lost 80 percent of its value against the US dollar and Forbes estimates inflation exceeds 200 percent.

Trump tweeted that the sanctions, which had been lifted by President Barack Obama, are just the first step and that a bigger round starts in November. “Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States,” he wrote. “I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!” That was a reference to his ­offer to talk to Iran’s leaders about a new nuclear deal. So far, the Iranians have sent mixed signals, but some observers believe the bite of sanctions will force them to the table. Already some European firms that rushed to do business in Iran after the nuclear deal was signed are pulling out because they fear being blacklisted by the US Treasury. And regime attempts to blame everything on Trump are failing, with most of the public blaming the mullahs for the crisis. As The Atlantic magazine notes, Trump’s approach to Iran resembles his approach to North Korea: “Saber rattling followed by summitry.” The magazine reports that North Korea’s foreign minister visited Tehran last week…

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

Contents

On Topic Links

U.S. President Trump: A Balance Sheet: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, July 25, 2018 —U.S. President Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin served to increase the paranoia about him to an all-time high. He was accused of “failing America,” acting “shamefully” and “disgracefully,” and even committing “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Former CIA chief John Brennan went so far as to call his performance “treasonous.”

Chomsky Calls Russian Interference a Joke – Blames Guess Who?: Alan M. Dershowitz, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 3, 2018—Noam Chomsky has gone off the deep end once again. This time he claims that in “most of the world” the issue of Russian interference in U.S. elections is “almost a joke.” The real villain, according to him, is, of course, Israel — as it almost always is with Chomsky. According to the world’s “top public intellectual,” Israeli intervention in U.S. elections, “vastly overwhelms anything the Russians may have done.”

The Legacies of Robert Mueller’s Investigations: Victor Davis Hanson, American Greatness, Aug. 13th, 2018—Some 450 days ago we were treated to melodramatic announcements from the media about the start-up of Robert Mueller’s “dream” and “all-star” team. Reporters gushed in the general hysteria of the times that Mueller would no doubt soon indict President Trump, some of his family, and almost anyone else in his campaign—and therefore end the Trump aberration.

The Myth of a Rising ‘Alt-Right’: Jonathan S. Tobin, New York Post, Aug. 13, 2018—It was inevitable that the anniversary of last year’s racist march in Charlottesville, Va., would be treated as a watershed. The horrifying torchlight parade of neo-Nazis and Klansmen shouting racist and anti-Semitic slogans was straight out of our collective nightmares about the past.

TRUMP’S CRITICS WRONGLY ACCUSE HIM OF BETRAYING THE U.S. & ALLIES OVER RUSSIA AND NATO

Who is Betraying America?: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, July 20, 2018 — Did US President Donald Trump commit treason in Helsinki when he met Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin? Should he be impeached?

NATO has Weaknesses, and Trump Right to Prod It: Marc A. Thiessen, Washington Post, July 15, 2018 — As President Trump put Germany and other allies on notice for the harm they are doing to NATO with their failure to spend adequately on our common defense, Democrats in Washington came to Germany’s defense.

Pivots and Pitfalls as President Trump Eyes New Mideast Peace Push Through Gaza: Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, The Hill, July 12, 2018 — Gifting an Elton John CD to “Little Rocket Man,” pulling the plug on the Iran nuclear deal, slapping billions of dollars in tariffs on China, shaking up NATO’s status quo, downsizing the State Department.

Is Donald Trump the Oscar Wilde of Our Degraded Digital Age?: Dominic Green, CapX, July 16, 2018— Observers of the diplomatic tour that sacked Brussels, laid waste to Britain, and then ended on a nuclear-tipped grand finale in Helsinki know that, like Oscar Wilde, Donald Trump travels the world with nothing to declare but his genius.

On Topic Links

Listening to the Prophetic Voice: Tisha B’Av 5778: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Jewish Press, July 21, 2018

What, If Anything, Did Trump and Putin Agree On in Helsinki?: Seth Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, July 17, 2018

After Brussels, Trump Will Have Few Offerings for Putin: Aurel Braun, Globe and Mail, July 12, 2018

Donald Trump and the Carl Schmitt Spectrum: Amir Taheri, Gatestone Institute, July 22, 2018

 

WHO IS BETRAYING AMERICA?

Caroline Glick

Jerusalem Post, July 20, 2018

Did US President Donald Trump commit treason in Helsinki when he met Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin? Should he be impeached? That is what his opponents claim. Former president Barack Obama’s CIA director John Brennan accused Trump of treason outright. Brennan tweeted, “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki [with Putin] rises to and exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous.”

Fellow senior Obama administration officials, including former FBI director James Comey, former defense secretary Ashton Carter, and former deputy attorney general Sally Yates parroted Brennan’s accusation. Almost the entire US media joined them in condemning Trump for treason. Democratic leaders have led their own charge. Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen from Tennessee insinuated the US military should overthrow the president, tweeting, “Where are our military folks? The Commander-in-Chief is in the hands of our enemy!”

Senate minority leader Charles Schumer said that Trump is controlled by Russia. And Trump’s Republican opponents led by senators Jeff Flake and John McCain attacked him as well. Trump allegedly committed treason when he refused to reject Putin’s denial of Russian interference in the US elections in 2016 and was diffident in relation to the US intelligence community’s determination that Russia did interfere in the elections.

Trump walked back his statement from Helsinki at a press appearance at the White House Tuesday. But it is still difficult to understand what all the hullaballoo about the initial statement was about. AP reporter John Lemire placed Trump in an impossible position. Noting that Putin denied meddling in the 2016 elections and the intelligence community insists that Russia meddled, he asked Trump, “Who do you believe?”

If Trump had said that he believed his intelligence community and gave no credence to Putin’s denial, he would have humiliated Putin and destroyed any prospect of cooperative relations. Trump tried to strike a balance. He spoke respectfully of both Putin’s denials and the US intelligence community’s accusation. It wasn’t a particularly coherent position. It was a clumsy attempt to preserve the agreements he and Putin reached during their meeting. And it was blindingly obviously not treason.

In fact, Trump’s response to Lemire, and his overall conduct at the press conference, did not convey weakness at all. Certainly he was far more assertive of US interests than Obama was in his dealings with Russia. In Obama’s first summit with Putin in July 2009, Obama sat meekly as Putin delivered an hour-long lecture about how US-Russian relations had gone down the drain.

As Daniel Greenfield noted at Frontpage magazine Tuesday, in succeeding years, Obama capitulated to Putin on anti-missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic, on Ukraine, Georgia and Crimea. Obama gave Putin free rein in Syria and supported Russia’s alliance with Iran on its nuclear program and its efforts to save the Assad regime. He permitted Russian entities linked to the Kremlin to purchase a quarter of American uranium. And of course, Obama made no effort to end Russian meddling in the 2016 elections.

Trump in contrast has stiffened US sanctions against Russian entities. He has withdrawn from Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. He has agreed to sell Patriot missiles to Poland. And he has placed tariffs on Russian exports to the US. So if Trump is Putin’s agent, what was Obama? Given the nature of Trump’s record, and the context in which he made his comments about Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, the question isn’t whether he did anything wrong. The question is why are his opponents accusing him of treason for behaving as one would expect a president to behave? What is going on?

The answer to that is clear enough. Brennan signaled it explicitly when he tweeted that Trump’s statements “exceed the threshold of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’” The unhinged allegations of treason are supposed to form the basis of impeachment hearings. The Democrats and their allies in the media use the accusation that Trump is an agent of Russia as an elections strategy. Midterm elections are consistently marked with low voter turnout. So both parties devote most of their energies to rallying their base and motivating their most committed members to vote.

To objective observers, the allegation that Trump betrayed the United States by equivocating in response to a rude question about Russian election interference is ridiculous on its face. But Democratic election strategists have obviously concluded that it is catnip for the Democratic faithful. For them it serves as a dog whistle. The promise of impeachment for votes is too radical to serve as an official campaign strategy. For the purpose of attracting swing voters and not scaring moderate Democrats away from the party and the polls, Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer say they have no interest in impeaching Trump. Impeachment talk, they insist, is a mere distraction.

But by embracing Brennan’s claim of treason, Pelosi, Hoyer, Schumer and other top Democrats are winking and nodding to the progressive radicals now rising in their party. They are telling the Linda Sarsours and Cynthia Nixons of the party that they will impeach Trump if they win control of the House of Representatives. The problem with playing domestic politics on the international scene is that doing so has real consequences for international security and for US national interests…

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

 

                                                                        Contents

             

NATO HAS WEAKNESSES, AND TRUMP RIGHT TO PROD IT

Marc A. Thiessen

Washington Post, July 15, 2018

 

As President Trump put Germany and other allies on notice for the harm they are doing to NATO with their failure to spend adequately on our common defense, Democrats in Washington came to Germany’s defense. “President Trump’s brazen insults and denigration of one of America’s most steadfast allies, Germany, is an embarrassment,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a joint statement.

Sorry, Trump is right. The real embarrassment is that Germany, one of the wealthiest countries in Europe, spends just 1.24 percent of its gross domestic product on defense — in the bottom half of NATO allies. (The U.S. spends 3.5 percent of GDP on its military.)

A study by McKinsey & Co. notes that about 60 percent of Germany’s Eurofighter and Tornado fighter jets and about 80 percent of its Sea Lynx helicopters are unusable. According to Deutsche Welle, a German parliamentary investigation found that “at the end of 2017, no submarines and none of the air force’s 14 large transport planes were available for deployment due to repairs,” and “a Defense Ministry paper revealed German soldiers did not have enough protective vests, winter clothing or tents to adequately take part in a major NATO mission.”

To meet its promised NATO commitments, Germany needs to spend $28 billion more on defense annually. Apparently Germany can’t come up with the money, but it can send billions of dollars to Russia — the country NATO was created to protect against — for natural gas and support a new pipeline that will make Germany and Eastern European allies even more vulnerable to Moscow.

Sadly, Germany is not alone. Belgium, where NATO is headquartered, spends just 0.9 percent of GDP on defense — and fully one-third of its meager defense budget is spent on pensions. European NATO allies have about 1.8 million troops, but less than a third are deployable and just 6 percent for any sustained period. When Trump says NATO is “obsolete,” he is correct — literally. This is not a new problem. I was in the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, and vividly recall how, when it came time to take military action in Afghanistan, only a handful of allies had any useful war-fighting capabilities they could contribute during the critical early stages of Operation Enduring Freedom.

At NATO’s 2002 Prague summit, allies pledged to address these deficiencies by spending at least 2 percent of GDP on defense and investing that money in more usable capabilities. Instead, defense investments by European allies declined from 1.9 percent of GDP in 2000-2004 to 1.7 percent five years later, dropping further to 1.4 percent by 2015.

Little surprise that when NATO intervened in Libya a decade after 9/11, The Washington Post reported, “Less than a month into the Libyan conflict, NATO is running short of precision bombs, highlighting the limitations of Britain, France and other European countries in sustaining even a relatively small military action over an extended period of time.” An alliance whose founding purpose is to deter Russian aggression could not sustain a limited bombing campaign against a far weaker adversary.

President Barack Obama called NATO allies “free riders,” and President George W. Bush urged allies to “increase their defense investments,” both to little effect. But when Trump refused to immediately affirm that the United States would meet its Article 5 commitment to defend a NATO ally, NATO allies agreed to boost spending by $12 billion last year. That is a drop in the bucket: McKinsey calculated that allies need to spend $107 billion more each year to meet their commitments.

Since polite pressure by his predecessors did not work, Trump is digging in on a harder line: Last week in Brussels, he suggested NATO members double their defense spending targets to 4 percent of GDP. This is not a gift to Russia, as his critics have alleged. The last thing Putin wants is for Trump to succeed in getting NATO to spend more on defense. And if allies are concerned about getting tough with Russia, there is an easy way to do so: invest in the capabilities NATO needs to deter and defend against Russian aggression.

Trump’s hard line also does not signal that he considers NATO irrelevant. If Trump thought NATO was useless, he would not waste his time on it. But if allies don’t invest in real, usable military capabilities, NATO will become irrelevant. An alliance that cannot effectively join the fight when one of its members comes under attack or runs out of munitions in the middle of a military intervention is, by definition, irrelevant. NATO needs some tough love, and Trump is delivering it. Thanks to him, the alliance will be stronger as a result.

                                                                        Contents

   

PIVOTS AND PITFALLS AS PRESIDENT TRUMP

EYES NEW MIDEAST PEACE PUSH THROUGH GAZA

Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper

The Hill, July 12, 2018

Gifting an Elton John CD to “Little Rocket Man,” pulling the plug on the Iran nuclear deal, slapping billions of dollars in tariffs on China, shaking up NATO’s status quo, downsizing the State Department. Forget tweets. When it comes to foreign policy, President Donald Trump continues to shake well and stir, often shocking friend and foe alike. Now there are signs the Trump administration is about to nudge the Middle East’s Richter scale with a push for peace that focuses on … Gaza?

Yes, Gaza. Led by the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, it appears the United States, with the support or understanding of Israel and key Gulf states, will seek ways to improve the daily lives of Gaza’s people, starting with their electrical grid and water services. Yes, the same Gaza that is ruled with an iron fist by Hamas, a duly-elected terrorist organization whose genocidal, Jew-hating charter calls for Israel’s destruction and invokes the classic anti-Semitic screed, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” The same Hamas that has barred Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas from setting foot in the Gaza Strip since his election more than a decade ago.

Is there a method to this new madness? Actually, yes. The Abbas-led Palestinian Authority (PA) never liked President Trump’s views on the Middle East; Abbas and the PA heaped scorn on the U.S. ambassador to Israel even before the United States moved its embassy to Jerusalem. Furthermore, Hamas has made clear it considers any Trump peace plan dead on arrival. Finally, the PA’s ambassador to Tehran has declared President Trump “is a tool of international Zionism.” So, instead of following the well-trodden path of previous U.S. presidents and many European leaders, who have sweetened the PA coffers every time that Abbas cried wolf, the Trump team has decided to bypass Abbas’ West Bank-based regime and instead offer long-suffering Gaza residents hope for a better future.

Israelis would welcome a quiet southern border without having to launch a major military incursion. Gulf states, already pouring millions of dollars into Gaza, would welcome some stability for Palestinians and the region. Working closely with Israel to confront the existential threats from Iran, the United States also could set the stage for open economic and diplomatic relations between Israel and Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and, ultimately, Saudi Arabia. The Trump team believes such seismic developments would force the PA into the game, or sideline it permanently.

This represents a visionary approach, but the Trump administration should keep in mind a few words of caution. First, Team Trump will discover there is no reliable interlocutor on the ground in Gaza. Qatar, a major donor in Gaza, is unlikely to be a reliable partner; it is openly playing a double game, cozying up to Washington and Tehran simultaneously. Second, the administration should not expect any meaningful support from the United Nations. If ever there was an opportunity for the United Nations to live up to its charter, this is it. But, sadly, abject failure to pave the way for long-term peace that recognizes the Jewish state’s right to security and sovereignty is part of the United Nations’ DNA.

The U.N. Relief and Works Agency is the largest single employer in Gaza but, rather than playing a moderating influence, UNRWA is de facto controlled by Hamas’ diktats. Witness UNRWA schools closing on May 14-15, the bloodiest days of Hamas-driven riots at the Israeli border; Hamas wanted as many kids at the border, with the hope of driving up the death toll beyond Hamas’ members. Meanwhile UNRWA’s alleged new peace curriculum is actually a war curriculum; not a single map in its new textbooks mentions Israel but there’s still mention of “martyrs” (read “killers of Israelis”).

Every international drive to help the people of Gaza rebuild homes after the last war with Israel resulted in building materials diverted by Hamas to its network of underground terror tunnels. Major humanitarian donors, from the Gulf States to the European Union to Japan, acknowledge there is precious little transparency on how funds are actually spent. So, while it may be worthwhile for President Trump and his team to think out of the box to create new paths toward peace, a good place to start is by acting out of the box. The worst thing America can do is to write another “trust me” check to Hamas. Suits and ties do not transform terrorists into statesmen.

If Hamas really wants to play ball, it must return Israelis — dead and alive — still held hostage in Gaza. And the dropping of its charter must precede any involvement of Hamas in the U.S. plan. If Hamas won’t act in good faith, then the United States should find and empower Palestinians who’ve had enough of terrorist rule. Bolstering Gaza with huge funds could backfire, not only by reversing Israeli success in degrading Hamas’ paramilitary capability, but also by allowing Hamas to emerge the big winner in the West Bank. By swapping an enfeebled Abbas with the Hamas-aligned Muslim Brotherhood, we would enable terrorists to threaten Israel’s heartland…

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

Contents

   

IS DONALD TRUMP THE OSCAR WILDE OF OUR DEGRADED DIGITAL AGE?

Dominic Green

CapX, July 16, 2018

Observers of the diplomatic tour that sacked Brussels, laid waste to Britain, and then ended on a nuclear-tipped grand finale in Helsinki know that, like Oscar Wilde, Donald Trump travels the world with nothing to declare but his genius. And, like the divine Oscar, the less-than-divine Donald is a comedian who mistakes himself for a philosopher, and who knows that if you want to tell people the truth, you should make them laugh. None of the leaders of NATO laughed when Trump told them to raise their defence budgets to 2 per cent of GDP.

Neither did Theresa May double up when Trump mused on an open mike in the garden of Chequers about Boris Johnson’s suitability for her job. Nor did the collective heads of the chuckle fest that is the European Union surrender to a spontaneous outburst of collective jollity when Trump described the EU as an American “foe” when it came to trade. But these are the jokes, folks. There is much truth to all these statements, and much more truth than the professional politicians dare to admit. The laughs, unfortunately, are on us, and all of them are rather bitter. Trump lies in the gutter press, while looking up at the stars and the autocrats.

Trump was accurate when he said that Theresa May’s latest proposals for Brexit aren’t really the Brexit for which her public voted in 2016 and elected her in 2017. Trump is accurate in noting that the EU’s trade regulations do not create a level playing field; African farmers might well agree with him. And Trump is right that most NATO members, and European states in general, have been passing the tab for their security to the US for decades. That includes “you, Angela”, as Trump referred to Angela Merkel, who presides over a massive budget surplus but last year spent only 1.25 per cent of GDP on defence.

This week, when NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg crawled from the smoking rubble of NATO’s headquarters, he protested that eight NATO states are on course to spend 2 per cent of GDP on defence this year—an increase from three states in 2014. Those eight were Estonia, Greece, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, the UK and the US. Stoltenberg didn’t mention Turkey, which spent 3.1 per cent of GDP on defence last year. But then, every else would prefer it if Turkey spent a bit less.

The truth is that five of those eight states have raised their defence budgets because of Russian expansionism. And while Greece spends a lot on defence because it fears Turkey, Turkey in part spends a lot on defence because it fears Russia. Which brings us and The Donald to today’s meeting in Helsinki with Vladimir Putin.

Before the summit, Trump deployed his usual tactics. First he lowered expectations: there wasn’t a fixed agenda, and maybe nothing was going to come of it. Then he raised the ante, by warning that “NATO, I think, has never been stronger” since his recent dose of tough love. And then he raised it further by tweet, while changing the subject: “Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of US foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!”

This was a classic piece of Trump truth-telling. It started with a feeling of truthiness, but it wasn’t really true in objective terms, and it ended with raging subjectivity. It’s true that US-Russian relations have declined steadily since Putin came to power in 2000, and declined sharply since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014. It’s true that they are now as bad as at any point since the end of the Cold War. But they’re nowhere near as bad as relations between Khrushchev and Kennedy, who came close to war over the Cuban Missile Crisis…

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

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

Listening to the Prophetic Voice: Tisha B’Av 5778: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Jewish Press, July 21, 2018—At this time, as we recall the destruction of our two Temples, we read three of the most searing passages in prophetic literature, from the beginnings of Jeremiah and Isaiah.

What, If Anything, Did Trump and Putin Agree On in Helsinki?: Seth Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, July 17, 2018—US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed Israel, Syria and Iran at their meeting in Helsinki on Monday and in subsequent comments to the press. The public comments provide some insight into their view of the future Middle East. With the Syrian regime conducting a major offensive in the south, the US deeply involved in eastern Syria and Israel demanding that the Iranians leave, these were central topics of concern.

After Brussels, Trump Will Have Few Offerings for Putin: Aurel Braun, Globe and Mail, July 12, 2018—Despite a most inauspicious start, this year’s NATO summit in Brussels turned out to be neither the train wreck that many feared nor an unalloyed success. All the members, it appears, can derive a degree of comfort from what essentially remains a difficult work in progress.

Donald Trump and the Carl Schmitt Spectrum: Amir Taheri, Gatestone Institute, July 22, 2018—Has Donald Trump been reading Carl Schmitt in secret? The thought came to mind the other day when the US president was concluding his two-day “working visit” to the United Kingdom with a series of impromptu statements before flying to Scotland to play golf. It was by using the term “foe” to describe Russia, China and even the European Union that Trump reminded me of Schmitt.

 

 

 

TRUMP RENEWS U.S. TIES WITH ISRAEL & SUNNI ARAB STATES WHILE CONFRONTING IRAN

The “Trump Doctrine” for the Middle East: Guy Millière, Gatestone Institute, June 13, 2018— After three successive American Presidents had used a six-month waiver to defer moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem for more than two decades, President Donald J. Trump decided not to wait any longer.

Protests in Iran Prove Trump is Getting it Right: Benny Avni, New York Post, June 25, 2018 — While Team Trump is divided over Iran policy — some say negotiate, others advocate pressure aimed at regime change — defiant Iranians taking to the streets of the capital are resolving that dispute decisively in favor of the latter.

The Peril of Politicized Antisemitism: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, June 22, 2018— A Google search of the terms “Trump Nazi,” brings up 70,900,000 results.

The Liberal Contribution to Trump’s Reelection Campaign: John Podhoretz, Commentary, June 25, 2018— In 2016, GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio tried to get himself back in the game by ridiculing Trump in Trump-like fashion in the 1,875th Republican debate.

On Topic Links

Moving the Goalpost: The Much-Anticipated U.S. Peace Plan: Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post, June 22, 2018

Leading Scholar: Trump’s Embassy Move, Recognition of Jerusalem Represent ‘Important Turning Point’: Benjamin Kerstein, Algemeiner, May 14, 2018

Obama’s Failures Created Trump’s New Middle East: Jonathan S. Tobin, National Review, June 13, 2018

Suicide of West Can Be Averted By Policies of Trump: Conrad Black, New York Sun, June 21, 2018

 

THE “TRUMP DOCTRINE” FOR THE MIDDLE EAST

Guy Millière

Gatestone Institute, June 13, 2018

After three successive American Presidents had used a six-month waiver to defer moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem for more than two decades, President Donald J. Trump decided not to wait any longer. On December 7, 2017, he declared that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; the official embassy transfer took place on May 14th, the day of Israel’s 70th anniversary.

From the moment of Trump’s declaration, leaders of the Muslim world expressed anger and announced major trouble. An Islamic summit conference was convened in Istanbul a week later, and ended with statements about a “crime against Palestine”. Western European leaders followed suit. Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said that President Trump’s decision was a “serious mistake” and could have huge “consequences”. French President Emmanuel Macron, going further, declared that the decision could provoke a “war”.

Despite these ominous predictions, trouble remained largely absent. The Istanbul statement remained a statement. The “war” anticipated by Macron did not break out. The Islamic terrorist organization Hamas sent masses of rioters from Gaza to tear down Israel’s border fence and cross over, to force Israeli soldiers to fire, thereby allowing Hamas to have bodies of “martyrs” to show to the cameras. So far, Hamas has sent 62 of its own people to their death. Fifty of them were, by Hamas’s own admission, members of Hamas. Palestinian terrorist groups fired rockets into southern Israel; Israeli jets retaliated with airstrikes. Hamas sent kites, attached to incendiary devices and explosives, over the border to Israel. So far, 200 of the fire-kites that Hamas sent have destroyed 6,200 acres of Israeli forests and farmland.

Pundits who predicted more violent reactions have been surprised by the relatively quiet reaction of the Palestinian and Muslim communities. The reason might be called the “Trump Doctrine for the Middle East”. One element of it consisted of crushing the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. President Trump had promised quickly to clear the world of what had become a main backbone of Islamic terrorism. He kept his promise in less than a year, and without a massive deployment of American troops. Trump has shown the strength of the United States and restored its credibility in a region where strength and force determine credibility.

Another element of it was put in place during President Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia in May 2017. President Trump renewed ties which had seriously deteriorated during the previous 8 years. Trump more broadly laid the foundation for a new alliance of the United States with the Sunni Arab world, but he put two conditions on it: a cessation of all Sunni Arab support for Islamic terrorism and an openness to the prospect of a regional peace that included Israel.

Both conditions are being gradually fulfilled. In June 2017, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman chose his son Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) as heir to the throne. MBS started an internal revolution to impose new directions on the kingdom. The Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition, created on December 15, 2015, was endorsed by the United States; it held its inaugural meeting on November 26, 2017. In addition, links between Israeli and Saudi security services were strengthened and coordination between the Israeli and Egyptian militaries intensified.

An alliance between Israel and the main countries of the Sunni Arab world to contain Iran also slowly and unofficially began taking shape. MBS, calling called Hamas a terrorist organization, saying that it must “be destroyed”. He told representatives of Jewish organizations in New York that Palestinian leaders need to “take the [American] proposals or shut up.” Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas was summoned to Riyadh twice — in November and December 2017; and it appears he was “asked” to keep quiet. Never has the distance between Palestinian organizations, and Saudi Arabia and the Sunni Arab world, seemed so far. The only Sunni Arab country to have maintained ties with Hamas is Qatar, but the current Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim ben Hamad Al Thani, has been under pressure to change his stance.

Immediately after President Trump left Riyadh, a third element emerged. The US presidential plane went directly from Riyadh to in Israel: for the first time, a direct flight between Saudi Arabia and Israel took place. President Trump went to Jerusalem, where he became the first sitting US President to visit the Western Wall, the only historical remains of a retaining wall from the ancient Temple of King Solomon. During his campaign, Trump had referred to Jerusalem as “the eternal capital of the Jewish people”, implicitly acknowledging that the Jews have had their roots there for 3,000 years…

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

 

Contents

   

PROTESTS IN IRAN PROVE TRUMP IS GETTING IT RIGHT                                                      

Benny Avni

New York Post, June 25, 2018

While Team Trump is divided over Iran policy — some say negotiate, others advocate pressure aimed at regime change — defiant Iranians taking to the streets of the capital are resolving that dispute decisively in favor of the latter. Tehran’s grand bazaar was shut down Monday as merchants joined street protests and thousands defied thuggish regime riot police trying to quell the rebellion. Other big cities joined Tehran as well.

Protesters carried signs like “Leave Syria alone, think of us.” Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and the Houthis — all proxy arms of the Islamic Republic’s strategy of spreading its version of the “Islamic revolution” across the region — weren’t spared protesters’ ire either. In a modification of the regime’s “death to Israel” staple, some merchants raised “death to Palestine” signs on Monday. And worse, from the regime’s point of view: “Death to the dictator.”

Iranians have been protesting all year. Truck drivers, unable to afford gasoline, have been on strike. Others, including past regime supporters, also turned against Tehran’s pricey adventurism in the region while ignoring troubles at home. Much of it is because the mullahs can’t manage their moola. In anticipation of new US sanctions set to hit in August, the Iranian rial is sinking fast: 42,890 rials could buy a dollar at the end of 2017. Now the dollar is worth 90,000 rials. For ordinary folks, such hyperinflation means thinner dinner, if at all.

But it isn’t just the economy. Women have been increasingly removing their hijab in public, in defiance of the law. The regime was recently forced to allow women to publicly cheer their World Cup soccer team. The games are televised in stadiums, where until recently only men were admitted. But until now, much of the protest mostly stayed in small peripheral towns. Monday’s demonstrations mark a new phase, says Masih Alinejad, the Brooklyn-based Iranian woman widely credited with launching the powerful anti-hijab movement.

“What the regime feared most is happening,” Alinejad tells me. “Tehran had stayed calm as nationwide protests at the beginning of the year engulfed 80 cities. Now an impromptu protest in Tehran by merchants against economic mismanagement has turned into a massive anti-regime event, with chants of death to dictator and death to Palestine.” On Sunday, she added, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif railed against regime change, and “that to me suggests the regime is very worried.”

President Trump, meanwhile, is reportedly eager to prove his deal artistry prowess and renegotiate his predecessor’s nuclear pact with Iran while top administration officials support a turn to diplomacy. The argument was crystallized by President George W. Bush’s former ambassador in Iraq and Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, in a recent Washington Post op-ed: “Trump’s pressure tactics likely won’t bring Iran to its knees or facilitate the overthrow of the regime in the foreseeable future — but his approach might bring the Iranians to the negotiating table.”

Others in the administration, however, agree with National Security Adviser John Bolton, who, at least until joining the Trump team, was an avid proponent of regime change in Iran. Is it feasible? Is it advisable? Regime change has suffered bad PR since Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. But take a look at the carnage in Syria, where America decided to sit out an age-defining struggle against an evil regime.

So far on Iran, we’re doing the right thing: Pressure the regime for spreading evil around the region and the globe, while allowing space for Iranians to determine their future without us. Trump has amped up pressure on the regime while not overtly advocating regime change. Staying this course will help Iranians articulate their growing disdain for their oppressors.

Some in the administration are pushing Trump to offer to negotiate with Khamenei & Co., betting Tehran will summarily reject a gesture prompted by “global arrogance.” This way, the argument goes, we could convince Europeans and others that we tried diplomacy but Iran didn’t budge, so they should join our pressure. This gambit may work. But even if so, a gesture toward the Tehran clerics will legitimize them — and discourage a swelling number of Iranians who yearn to end their exclusive hold on power. Here’s a Cold War lesson: Realists can’t easily envision it, but dictators can suddenly fall. And then realities change very quickly.

Contents                  

THE PERIL OF POLITICIZED ANTISEMITISM

Caroline B. Glick

Jerusalem Post, June 22, 2018

A Google search of the terms “Trump Nazi,” brings up 70,900,000 results. There are a number of distressing aspects to this state of affairs. First and foremost, it is pure libel to call US President Donald Trump a Nazi. His daughter Ivanka is Jewish. His daughter-in-law is Jewish. Half his grandchildren are Jewish and his non-Jewish ex-daughter-in-law is half Jewish. How many Nazis have Hanukka celebrations in their homes starring their Jewish grandchildren?

Beyond his Jewish immediate family, Trump has shown extraordinary friendship to the Jewish state. It isn’t simply that Trump kept the promise none if his predecessors kept and moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem, although that would have sufficed to prove his friendship. Trump shows his friendship and respect for Israel every single day. Last week he agreed to sell Israel mid-air refueling planes. His predecessor, Barack Obama, refused to sell Israel the aircraft in order to protect Iran’s nuclear sites from Israeli air strikes. Trump agreed to sell them to enable such Israeli strikes in the event they become necessary.

This week, Trump approved UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s determination that the US should withdraw from the institutionally antisemitic UN Human Rights Council. The Obama administration joined the council claiming it would use its membership to influence the council for the better and proceeded to legitimize council’s anti-Jewish witch hunt for eight years.

The people of Israel recognize Trump’s friendship. Nearly 80% of Israelis view him as a friend. So what explains the 70,900,000 results to the “Trump Nazi” Google search? One answer came this week with the media outcry over the US government policy of separating illegal immigrant minors from their illegal immigrant parents. The policy is cruel. Indeed, recognizing its cruelty, Trump signed an executive order banning the practice.

But the policy isn’t new. This was the Obama administration’s policy following a court order prohibiting children from joining their parents in detention. Rather than soberly acknowledge that law enforcement, including immigration law is often a cruel business and recognize that to remain a state of laws sometimes authorities undertake difficult and harsh actions, the anti-Trump media ignored reality and went straight for the kill. David Remnick, Frank Bruni and countless others didn’t care that the Obama administration separated children from their parents, placed them in cages and wrapped them in aluminum foil.

As far as they are concerned, the continuation of the same cruel policy under Trump is proof that Trump is a Nazi. Gen. Michael Hayden, the former director of the NSA and the CIA posted a photo of the entrance to Auschwitz on his Twitter feed with a caption “Other governments have separated mothers and children.” As much as Hayden and his comrades hate Trump, by claiming that enforcing laws of Congress is Nazi behavior, they are demonizing the US and engaging in rank antisemitism. Mexican children separated from their parents because they broke properly constituted laws of a liberal republic are not the moral equivalent of the million Jewish children murdered by the Nazis for the “crime” of breathing while Jewish. Congress is not the Reichstag. And the Rio Grande is not Auschwitz.

Hayden and his comrades are not idiots. So why are they making these unhinged, libelous claims? The answer is that their actions are part of a wider move by Democrats to politicize antisemitism. Much has been made of the fact that support for Israel is becoming a partisan issue. Whereas Republicans are almost unanimous in support for the US alliance with Israel, support among Democrats is flagging and becoming a minority view on the rapidly growing far Left. What has gone largely unmentioned is that antisemitism is also becoming a partisan issue. As their party becomes more hostile to Israel, Democrats are increasingly highlighting the neo-Nazi elements at the fringe of the Republican Party as a means of implicating the entire Republican Party – led by Trump – as antisemitic and dangerous.

At the same time, even as leading members of the Democratic Party like Keith Ellison and luminaries like Linda Sarsour openly espouse anti-Jewish sentiments and propagate antisemitic conspiracy theories, Democrats ignore, whitewash, deny and minimize the significance of the swelling chorus of antisemitism within their ranks. Compare the responses of Democrats and Republicans to the appearance of antisemites on their ballots.

In the current election cycle, three white supremacists have sought office as Republican candidates. Arthur Jones, a 70-year-old white supremacist Nazi, running for Congress in Illinois’s 3rd Congressional district ran a stealth campaign for the safe Democratic seat. He quietly collected the requisite signatures to file his papers with the state election commission, blindsiding the GOP, which had not planned to field a candidate to run against incumbent Dan Lipinski who has won the last seven elections by a 70-30 margin. In response to Jones’s maneuver, the state and national GOP condemned and disavowed him in the harshest terms. The state party announced it would field an independent candidate to run in the general election against Jones and Lipinski.

Then there is Patrick Little. Little, another Nazi, ran in California’s open primary for Senate as a Republican. Ten other Republicans also ran. In one poll, which included Little and one other Republican candidate only, he was the top ranked Republican candidate in the open Senate race against Democratic incumbent Diane Feinstein. Rather than acknowledge the poll’s statistical insignificance, the Forward, Newsweek and Yahoo news ran stories about Little and the poll claiming that it proved that empowered by Trump, Nazis are taking over the Republican Party. The fact that the California GOP forcibly removed Little from their state convention was barely reported in the national media…

In the Democratic tent itself, things are a bit different. Rising stars in the Democratic Party, including Rep. Ellison and Women’s March leaders Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour along with the Congressional Black Caucus embrace Louis Farrakhan, and defend his notorious, virulent hatred of Jews. They demonize Israel and its Jewish supporters. Far from being attacked or otherwise denounced for their actions, these Democrats are advanced and promoted. Ellison is the vice-chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Mallory and Sarsour, Maxine Waters and other members of the CBC are feted by party leaders including Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren…

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

 

Contents

             

THE LIBERAL CONTRIBUTION TO TRUMP’S REELECTION CAMPAIGN

John Podhoretz

Commentary, June 25, 2018

In 2016, GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio tried to get himself back in the game by ridiculing Trump in Trump-like fashion in the 1,875th Republican debate. This was the notorious “hand size” moment—and Trump responded exactly as Rubio wanted him to, by defending himself on the most ludicrous grounds. But the attack didn’t take and, in short order, Rubio apologized for it. He said his wife was unhappy he’d done it and he wouldn’t stoop to Trump’s level again. And that was that for Marco Rubio.

You cannot shame the shameless, and you cannot make unacceptable someone who has not only resorted to but has embraced conduct everyone else deemed unacceptable—and has not only survived but thrived because of it. That was Rubio’s mistake. By behaving like Trump, Rubio erased whatever advantage he might have had from not being like Trump (and remember, that was not nothing; after all was said and done, Trump only got 45 percent of the primary vote). It was probably worth a shot, but as it didn’t work, it’s probably not worth a second shot.

And yet that is exactly the path Democrats and liberals seem to be stumbling onto in their battle against Trump and the GOP. They have decided that the offenses of Trump and his administration against the good and the true and the beautiful are so horrific that anyone officially associated with him is to be harassed in public. Desperate times call for desperate measures, apparently.

The tactic of making the political personal in the most direct and unpleasant of ways is nothing new, of course. The home of my late sister, married to Reagan’s assistant secretary of state for Inter-American Affairs at the height of the U.S.-Sandinista clashes, was picketed by protestors in 1987. He was away while she and her three children under the age of six sat inside hearing their husband and father denounced as a murderer. In a residential neighborhood in D.C. That was nice, huh? Three little kids.

The comedian Seth Rogen recently bragged about refusing to take a photo with Paul Ryan in the presence of Ryan’s kids. He confessed to feeling bad about it, but also to thinking that it would be good if Ryan’s kids knew people who make movies and TV don’t like their dad. There’s a word for someone who brags about how he went and taught someone else’s kids a lesson in this way: The word is “asshole.”

This is what happens when you dehumanize your opposition. But anyone who professes to admire Trump should tread carefully when expressing outrage over the mistreatment of Press Secretary Sarah Sanders at the Red Hen restaurant this weekend because the dehumanization of the opposition is key to Trump’s communications and base-pumping strategies. And if you thrill at him for his conduct and find the treatment of Sanders unspeakable, there’s a word for you too, and it’s “hypocrite.”

The point Trump’s opposition fails to grasp is this: By imitating Trump, you are doing exactly what you fear the media are doing. You are normalizing him. You are making this kind of conduct the political baseline for both parties and both ideological tendencies. And let’s face it: You’re just not going to do it as well as Trump does. It’s like trying to follow in the footsteps of Al Jolson, a huge star who was also insufferable and immensely annoying. Nobody did Jolson like Jolson—but who would want to?

By affirming the notion that Americans are now divided into enemy camps, and each should treat the other as though it is beneath contempt, Democrats and liberals are making an in-kind contribution to the GOP’s 2018 midterm campaign and the 2020 Trump campaign. This is how you’re going to get Trump again.

 

Contents

On Topic Links

Moving the Goalpost: The Much-Anticipated U.S. Peace Plan: Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post, June 22, 2018—Sometime in the coming weeks, the US will present the much-anticipated peace plan it has been working on since President Donald Trump entered the Oval Office 18 months ago. What the plan exactly contains remains a mystery, but based on rumblings in Washington and Jerusalem, it has the potential to shake up the region.

Leading Scholar: Trump’s Embassy Move, Recognition of Jerusalem Represent ‘Important Turning Point’: Benjamin Kerstein, Algemeiner, May 14, 2018—President Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and recognize the city as Israel’s capital represented an “important turning point” and “act of courage and integrity,” a leading scholar told The Algemeiner.

Obama’s Failures Created Trump’s New Middle East: Jonathan S. Tobin, National Review, June 13, 2018—The search for explanations and scapegoats for the rejection of President Obama’s worldview in the 2016 election continues.

Suicide of West Can Be Averted By Policies of Trump: Conrad Black, New York Sun, June 21, 2018—It is distasteful to return to my exchange with my esteemed National Review colleague Jonah Goldberg about the column he wrote several weeks ago likening President Trump’s reference to the implantation of FBI informers in his campaign as “Spygate” to McCarthyism.