World events seem relatively calm, but repeated appeasement has built up pressure across the globe, and someone has to be there when crisis erupts.
This summer, President Obama was often golfing. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were promising to let the world be. The end of summer seemed sleepy, the world relatively calm.
The summer of 1914 in Europe also seemed quiet. But on July 28, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip with help from his accomplices, fellow Serbian separatists. That isolated act sparked World War I.
In the summer of 1939, most observers thought Adolf Hitler was finally through with his serial bullying. Appeasement supposedly had satiated his once enormous territorial appetites. But on September 1, Nazi Germany unexpectedly invaded Poland and touched off World War II, which consumed some 60 million lives.
Wars often seem to come out of nowhere, as unlikely events ignite long-simmering disputes into global conflagrations.
The instigators often are weaker attackers who foolishly assume that more powerful nations wish peace at any cost, and so will not react to opportunistic aggression.
Unfortunately, our late-summer calm of 2016 has masked a lot of festering tensions that are now coming to a head — largely due to disengagement by a supposedly tired United States.
In contrast, war, unlike individual states, does not sleep. Read more →
By Victor Davis Hanson//Town Hall
A group of 50 conservative foreign policy elites and veteran national security officials of prior Republican administrations recently wrote an open letter denouncing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
They cited especially his lack of character and moral authority — and his “little understanding of America’s national interests.” Particularly bothersome, they wrote, is Trump’s inability “to separate truth from falsehood.”
The letter stated that Trump’s one-year campaign of blustery rhetoric suggests he could be as reckless in deed in the White House as he has been in word on the campaign trail.
Is there a like group of past Democratic wise men and women who can commensurately “police their own” and so warn us about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton?
Unlike Trump, Clinton already has an actual political record as a former U.S. senator and secretary of state.
If there were such a group, the heart of their letter might read something like the following:
“We the undersigned who have served in prior Democratic administrations will not vote for Hillary Clinton. Read more →
We are very far from a politics of ideological purity and high character.
Many have weighed in on whether Donald Trump’s agendas — to the extent that they are different from what are now ratified Republican policies — are crackpot, unworkable, or radical: e.g., building a wall to enhance border enforcement (“And make Mexico pay for it!”), renegotiating trade deals with China, promoting Jacksonian nationalism rather than ecumenical internationalism, suspending immigration from Middle East war zones (after Trump dropped his call for complete Muslim exclusion), and disparaging an Eastern-corridor elite that derives privilege from the intersection of big politics, money, and the media.
No doubt, some of Trump’s flamboyant invective is isolationist, nativist, and protectionist. Certainly, we are in the strangest campaign of the last half-century, in which members of Trump’s own party are among his fiercest critics. In contrast, the ABC/NBC/CBS Sunday-morning liberal pundits feel no need to adopt NeverHillary advocacy. They apparently share little “Not in my name” compunction over “owning” her two decades of serial lying, her violations of basic ethical and legal protocols as secretary of state, her investment in what can be fairly termed a vast Clinton pay-to-play influence-peddling syndicate, and the general corruption of the Democratic primary process.
Amid the anguish over the Trump candidacy, we often forget that the present age of Obama is already more radical than most of what even Trump has blustered about. We live in a country for all practical purposes without an enforceable southern border. Over 300 local and state jurisdictions have declared themselves immune from federal immigration laws — all without much consequence and without worry that a similar principle of nullification was the basis of the American Civil War or that other, more conservative cities could in theory follow their lead and declare themselves exempt from EPA jurisdiction or federal gun-registration laws. Confederate nullification is accepted as the new normal, and, strangely, its antithesis of border enforcement and adherence to settled law is deemed xenophobic, nativist, and racist.
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Affirming Muslim grievances has only increased the Arab world’s sense that Obama is weak.
When President Obama entered office, he dreamed that his hope-and-change messaging and his references to his familial Islamic roots would win over the Muslim world. The soon-to-be Nobel Peace Prize laureate would make the U.S. liked in the Middle East. Then, terrorism would decrease.
But, as with his approach to racial relations, Obama’s remedies proved worse than the original illness.
Obama gave his first presidential interview to Al Arabiya, noting that he has Muslims in his family. He implicitly blamed America’s strained relations with many Middle Eastern countries on his supposedly insensitive predecessor, George W. Bush.
The new message of the Obama administration was that the Islamic world was understandably hostile because of what America had done rather than what it represented.
Accordingly, all mention of radical Islam, and even the word “terrorism,” was airbrushed from the new administration’s vocabulary. Words to describe terrorism or the fight against it were replaced by embarrassing euphemisms like “overseas contingency operations,” “man-caused disaster,” and “workplace violence.”
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Name a government agency or cabinet, and chances are its reputation has nosedived since 2008. A Pew poll, which has charted public trust in the federal government over some 57 years, hit a historic low last year, with only 19% expressing confidence in Washington. Despite President Obama’s campaign promises in 2008 to usher in a new era of accountability and transparency, formerly disinterested agencies have either been politicized to the point of corruption or rendered ineffective by the appointment of incompetent and politically driven directors.
The Hillary Clinton email scandal has tarnished the reputation of both the FBI and the Department of Justice for the foreseeable future. FBI Director James Comey concluded that his agency’s investigation of Clinton’s careless use of private emails to transmit confidential and classified communications on a private server likely led to security compromises, but that her actions were not a result of intentional wrongdoing—and thus not in his view prosecutable. However, the statutes in question do not require willful intent to break the law, only negligence (the causes of such dangerous carelessness are irrelevant). Read more →
Our domestic tensions embolden our enemies.
By Victor Davis Hanson//National Review Online
Here is a sampling of some recent news abroad:
A Russian guard attacked a U.S. diplomatic official at the door to the American Embassy in Moscow, even as NATO leaders met to galvanize against the next act of Russian aggression.
The Islamic State continued its global terrorist rampage with horrific attacks in Baghdad and Istanbul.
Iran rebuffed United Nations warnings and defiantly boasted that it will continue testing ballistic missiles. German intelligence believes that Iran, empowered by the release of $100 billion in impounded cash, is violating its recent American-led nonproliferation deal in an effort to import nuclear bomb-making technology.
North Korea conducted a test (unsuccessful, apparently) of a submarine-based guided missile.
There are various ways of interpreting these ominous events.
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In reacting to terrorism, Obama cannot bring himself to say the words ‘radical Islam.’
By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online
There are many threads to the horror in Orlando.
Most disturbing is the serial inability of the Obama administration — in this case as after the attacks at Fort Hood and in Boston and San Bernardino — even to name the culprits as radical Islamists. Major Hasan shouts “Allahu akbar!” and Omar Mateen calls 911 in mediis interfectis to boast of his ISIS affiliation — and yet the administration can still not utter the name of the catalyst of their attacks: radical Islam. It is hard to envision any clearer Islamist self-identification, other than name tags and uniforms. The Obama team seems to fear the unwelcome public responses to these repeated terrorist operations rather than seeing them as requisites for changing policies to prevent their recurrence.
On receiving news of the attack, Obama almost immediately called for greater tolerance for the LGBT community — as if American society, rather than jihadism and the cultural homophobia so characteristic of the Middle East, had fueled the attack; or as if Mateen had not phoned in his ISIS affiliation. Obama strained to find vocabulary equivalent to “workplace violence” and was reduced to suggesting that the Orlando club was a nexus for gay solidarity and thus a target of endemic LGBT hatred, a half- but only half-right summation. Why is Obama’s first reaction always to find perceived fault within American society rather than with radical Islamism, an ideology certainly at odds with all progressive notions of gay rights, feminism, and religious tolerance?
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The July 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to limit Iranian nuclear proliferation is now nearly a year old. Until recently, the urgency to complete the “Iran deal” had been explained by the Obama administration as an effort to capitalize on a new group of Iranian reformers who came to power with President Hassan Rouhani in August 2013.
The so-called moderates—labeled as such by pro-administration journalists and Middle East analysts—wished to send signals that they were ready to cease pursuit of a nuclear bomb in exchange for an American effort to end embargos, to release long impounded funds, and to allow Iran to reenter the world community. In other words, an Iranian change of heart, not U.S. acquiescence, prompted the rapprochement. And the Iranian “reformers” (apparently unlike the pro-Western Green Revolutionaries who hit the streets of Teheran in spring 2009 and were ignored by the Obama administration) apparently needed something tangible from the U.S. to empower their efforts to recalibrate Iran.
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In 1939, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and French Prime Minister Édouard Daladier warned Adolf Hitler that if the Third Reich invaded Poland, a European war would follow.
Both leaders insisted that they meant it. But Hitler thought that after getting away with militarizing the Rhineland, annexing Austria, and dismantling Czechoslovakia, the Allied appeasers were once again just bluffing.
England and France declared war two days after Hitler entered Poland.
Once hard-won deterrence is lost, it is almost impossible to restore credibility without terrible costs and danger.
Last week, Russian officials warned the Obama administration about the installation of a new anti-ballistic missile system in Romania and talked of a possible nuclear confrontation that would reduce the host country to “smoking ruins” and “neutralize” any American-sponsored missile system.
Such apocalyptic rhetoric follows months of Russian bullying of nearby neutral Sweden, harassment of U.S. ships and planes, warnings to NATO nations in Europe, and constant threats to the Baltic states and former Soviet republics.
China just warned the U.S. to keep its ships and planes away from its new artificial island and military base in the Spratly archipelago — plopped down in the middle of the South China Sea to control international sea lanes.
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