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Category Archives: Bruce S. Thornton

The Middle East and Orwellian Historical Arguments

When lies are the foundation of policies.

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Photo via www.breitbart.com

Photo via www.breitbart.com

Many of our policy debates and conflicts both domestic and foreign call on history to validate their positions. At home, crimes from the past like slavery and legal segregation are used to justify present policies ranging from racial set asides to housing regulations long after those institutions have been dismantled. Abroad, our jihadist enemies continually evoke the Crusades, “colonialism,” and “imperialism” as justifications for their violence. Yet the “history” used in such fashion is usually one-sided, simplistic, or downright false. Nor is the reason hard to find: as we read in 1984, “Who controls the past . . . controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” Bad history is a powerful instrument for gaining political power.

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Obama’s Schizophrenic Foreign Policy

An analysis of a recipe for serial disasters.

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

What are the roots of Barack Obama’s foreign policy? Some focus on the man and his flaws of character, particularly his inability to learn from his mistakes and to adjust his ideas to changing facts on the ground. Others see more sinister motives, an animus against the United States that drives policies diminishing America’s power and influence. Old bad ideas like one-world internationalism and the power of diplomacy to resolve conflicts have played a major role. And of course, domestic political considerations enter into his foreign policy calculations.

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Prophets Without Honor: Europe, Immigration and Trump

Why a crucial problem is back in the national conversation.

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Europe’s slow-motion immigration disaster has accelerated with the continuing turmoil in the Middle East and Africa. In Calais hundreds of illegal immigrants stormed the entrance to the cross-Channel tunnel in an attempt to reach more immigrant-friendly England. In northern Greece, 3000 migrants attacked the border with Macedonia to get closer to more prosperous northern Europe; Macedonia let them pass a few days later. Hungary, a member of the EU border-free Schengen zone, is deploying its army to slow down the migrant tide, and border-fences are springing up in Bulgaria and Hungary. Meanwhile, thousands of immigrants continue to drown in over-crowded ships or suffocate in smugglers’ trucks while trying to enter Europe.

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Donald Trump and the Other Class Warfare

When democratic masses tire of being condescended to.

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

The rise and continuing popularity of Donald Trump reminds us that “class warfare” is an eternal constant of democracies, for as Plato said, every city is in fact two cities, “one the city of the poor, the other of the rich; these are at war with one another.” But possession of wealth is not the only factor in this eternal conflict between the few and the many. The masses of course resent the elites’ greater wealth, but even more they dislike the assumption of superior wisdom and virtue that elites have always claimed as justifications for their status. It is this galling assumption and the anger it arouses in people that Donald Trump has brilliantly exploited.

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Still Blind to the Costs of Illegal Immigration

What really explains Trump’s rapid climb to the top of the polls.

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FPM

Photo via FPM

Donald Trump’s blunt and clumsy comments about illegal immigration sparked the usual firestorm of criticism from the well heeled of both parties. Particularly vocal were those Republicans who think that an amorphous, make-believe category comprising “Hispanics” or “Latinos” will vote Republican if only Republican meanies like Trump would stop insulting them by complaining about illegal aliens. As usual, willful ignorance or blindness about the costs of illegal immigration underwrites these dubious ideas.

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The Truth About Western “Colonialism”

How the misuse of a term legitimizes the jihadist myth of Western guilt.

by Bruce S. Thornton // Defining Ideas

Photo via Front Page Magazine

Photo via Front Page Magazine

Language is the first casualty of wars over foreign policy. To paraphrase Thucydides, during ideological conflict, words have to change their ordinary meaning and to take that which is now given them.

One word that has been central to our foreign policy for over a century is “colonialism.” Rather than describing a historical phenomenon––with all the complexity, mixture of good and evil, and conflicting motives found on every page of history––“colonialism” is now an ideological artifact that functions as a crude epithet. As a result, our foreign policy decisions are deformed by self-loathing and guilt eagerly exploited by our adversaries.

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More Sanctions Wouldn’t Have Stopped Iran

But one measure would have.

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

iran-nuclearCritics of President Obama’s recent deal with Iran have rejected the president’s assertion that the only alternative to his deal is war. They think that more aggressive sanctions could have changed Iran’s behavior, given the economic costs the current sanction regime has inflicted. A corollary to this argument assumes that the majority of Iranians are pro-American and sick of the puritanical and corrupt mullahcracy and its willful isolation of the country from the global order. Increase the pressure of sanctions, and this mass of discontent could ripen into regime change or at least a moderation of its behavior.

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The Iran Failure Has Many Fathers

The dangerous belief that words alone can transcend an eternal truth of human nature.

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Everybody knows the deal with Iran is a disaster. Why is equally obvious: Iran will get $150 billion to spend on weapons and its terrorist proxies, will keep its enrichment facilities, will continue to develop missiles, will easily avoid the laughably pusillanimous inspections regime, and will end up a nuclear power with malign consequences for the stability of the Middle East.

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THE PRESIDENT’S LOOKING-GLASS ISLAMIC WORLD

Obama may have forgotten about “war with Islam,” but war with Islam has not forgotten about him.

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

rfrPresident Obama recently gave a speech at the Pentagon about our efforts against ISIS that confirmed he has little awareness of the real world our enemies inhabit. The talk reprised the usual received wisdom and unchallenged orthodoxy that comprise most of the foreign policy establishment’s ideas about Islamic jihadism and how we should fight it. Consider the following particularly egregious examples:

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ISLAM THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS

The latest volume of J.B. Kelly’s essays shows how little we’ve learned about the Middle East.

by Bruce S. Thornton // Defining Ideas 

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

From the 1960s to the late 1990s, John Barrett Kelly was one of the most influential advisors, writers, and commentators on the Middle East. In 1980 his book Arabia, the Gulf, and the West was prophetic in its analysis of the strategic importance of the Middle East and the need for a Western “forward policy” in the Gulf in order to protect U.S. and European interests, particularly oil and its transport, against both Soviet adventurism and the greed of Middle Eastern potentates. Like all his writing, his advice was based on an intimate knowledge of the region and its culture, especially the tribal mentality intertwined with Islam, a faith historically hostile to Western civilization.

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