Obama’s Legacy of Deceit

by Victor Davis Hanson// Defining Ideas

In its remaining days in power, the Obama administration suddenly punished Vladimir Putin’s Russia for allegedly interfering in the U.S. presidential election. It claimed that Russian or Russian-hired hackers tapped into the records of the Democratic National Committee as well as the correspondence of John Podesta, a Clinton advisor.But what the Obama administration did not say was that such cyber-crimes are by now old hat. Both the Russian and Chinese governments have been hacking into far more important U.S. records and government archives for years without earning retaliation. Continue reading “Obama’s Legacy of Deceit”

The Resilience of Israel

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review

Despite the mess around it, Israel is in its best geostrategic position in decades.

Israel would seem to be in a disastrous position, given the inevitable nuclear capabilities of Iran and the recent deterioration of its relationship with the United States, its former patron and continued financial benefactor.

Immediately upon entering office, President Obama hectored Israel on so-called settlements. Obama promised to put “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel — and delivered on that promise. Continue reading “The Resilience of Israel”

Fifteen Easy Ways to Ruin the Middle East

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review on “The Corner”

President Obama had lots of choices in Middle East. Unfortunately he made all the wrong ones, guided by pop ideology rather than unwelcome facts on the ground. The result is chaos at best and millions dead or displaced at worst. It didn’t have to be this way. Here are 15 turning points since 2009. There is one common theme: bombastic self-serving declarations coupled with weak or nonexistent concrete follow-ups — all in a weird landscape of punishing friends and empowering enemies.

Had Obama only:

1. Cut out all the trash-talking of Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu, which ranged from off-the-record slights (“coward,” “chickens**t”) to public snubs to hot-mic ridicule, to constant ankle-biting of Israeli policy in pursuit of “daylight” between democratic Israel and the U.S. Continue reading “Fifteen Easy Ways to Ruin the Middle East”

It’s Still a Mad, Mad California

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review

Coastal elites set rules for others, exempt themselves, and tolerate rampant lawlessness from illegal aliens.

One reason for the emergence of outsider Donald Trump is the old outrage that elites seldom experience the consequences of their own ideologically driven agendas.

Hypocrisy, when coupled with sanctimoniousness, grates people like few other human transgressions: Barack Obama opposing charter schools for the inner city as he puts his own children in Washington’s toniest prep schools, or Bay Area greens suing to stop contracted irrigation water from Sierra reservoirs, even as they count on the Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy project to deliver crystal-clear mountain water to their San Francisco taps. Continue reading “It’s Still a Mad, Mad California”

The Ancient Foreign Policy

 by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review
Nations are collections of human beings, and human nature has not changed, despite Obama’s pleadings.
For the last eight years, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Samantha Power, Ben Rhodes, and Susan Rice have sought to rewrite the traditional approach to foreign policy. In various ways, they have warned us about the dangers that a reactionary Trump presidency would pose, on the assumption that their new world order now operates more along the lines of an Ivy League conference than according to the machinations and self-interests of the dog-eat-dog Manhattan real-estate cosmos.
It would be nice if the international order had safe spaces, prohibitions against micro-aggressions, and trigger warnings that warn of hurtful speech, but is the world really one big Harvard or Stanford that runs on loud assertions of sensitivity, guilt, apologies, or even the cynical progressive pieties found in WikiLeaks?
The tempo abroad in the last eight years would suggest that the answer is no: half a million dead in Syria, over a million young Muslim men flooding into Europe, an Iraq in ruins (though Biden once bragged it would be the Obama administration’s “greatest achievement”), the Benghazi catastrophe, North Africa a wasteland and terrorist incubator, Israel and the Gulf states estranged from America, Iran empowered and soon to be nuclear, Russia hell-bent on humiliating the U.S., China quietly forming its own updated Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, an impoverished Cuba and much of Latin America gnawing the limp wrist of U.S. outreach, and the European Union gradually imploding.
Obama’s lead-from-behind foreign policy has becoming something like the seduction of an old house. Its wiring, plumbing, and foundation are shot, but the majestic structure, when given a thin coat of new paint by the seller, proudly goes on the market as “restored” — at least until the new buyer discovers that the Potemkin façade is about to collapse from lax maintenance and deliberate indifference. In other words, Obama’s periodic declamations, Nobel Prize, and adulation from a toady press are all veneers of shiny paint; the Middle East, Russia, China, Iran, and ISIS terrorism are the insidious frayed wiring, corroded pipes, and termites that are about to take down the entire structure from the inside out. Note that the unrepentant seller is always loudly petulant that the new owner, as he makes endless vital repairs, did not appreciate the paint job he inherited.

Continue reading “The Ancient Foreign Policy”

The Trump Nail in the Media Coffin

The Trump Nail in the Media Coffin
President-elect Donald Trump probably will not often communicate with the nation via traditional press conferences. Nor will Trump likely field many questions from New York/Washington journalists.What we know as “the media” never imagined a Trump victory. It has become unhinged at the reality of a Trump presidency.No wonder the fading establishment media is now distrusted by a majority of the public, according to Gallup — and becoming irrelevant even among progressives.

Once upon a time in the 1960s, all the iconic news anchors, from Walter Cronkite to David Brinkley, were liberal. But they at least hid their inherent biases behind a professional veneer that allowed them to filter stories through left-wing lenses without much pushback.

When Cronkite returned from Vietnam after the 1968 Tet Offensive and declared the war stalemated and unwinnable, no one dared to offer the dissenting viewpoint that Tet was actually a decisive American victory.

The mainstream-media narrative in 1963 that Lee Harvey Oswald, the Castroite, communist assassin of President John F. Kennedy, was a product of right-wing Texas hatred was completely crazy — but largely unquestioned.

That old monopoly over the news, despite the advent of cable television and the internet, still lingered until 2016. Even in recent years, Ivy League journalism degrees and well-known media brand names seemed to suggest better reporting than what was offered by bloggers and websites.

Soft-spoken liberal hosts on public TV and radio superficially sounded more news-like than their gravelly-voiced populist counterparts on commercial radio and cable news. Continue reading “The Trump Nail in the Media Coffin”

The Animal Cunning and Instinct of Donald Trump

 by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review
 He grasped that what voters cared about were the very issues politicos were disdainfully ignoring.
The American middle classes, the Chinese, and Vladimir Putin have never been convinced that Ivy League degrees, vast Washington experience, and cultural sophistication necessarily translate into national wisdom. Trump instead relies more on instinct and operates from cunning — and we will soon see whether we should redefine “wisdom.”
But for now, for example, we have never heard a presidential candidate say such a thing as “We love our miners” — not “we like” miners, but “we love” them. And not just any miners, but “our” miners, as if, like “our vets,” the working people of our moribund economic regions were unique and exceptional people, neither clingers nor irredeemables. In Trump’s gut formulation, miners certainly did not deserve “to be put out of business” by Hillary Clinton, as if they were little more than the necessary casualties of the war against global warming. For Trump, miners were not the human equivalent of the 4,200 bald eagles that the Obama administration recently assured the wind turbine industry can be shredded for the greater good of alternate energy and green profiteering.

Continue reading “The Animal Cunning and Instinct of Donald Trump”

From An Angry Reader:


 Your gloating and myopic column pillorying President Obama’s foreign policy legacy was simple minded and juvenile. Why write something so stupidly one sided?????

 When Obama came into office we were losing 100 service people per month in a stupid war and as he leaves office, this number is down to one or two. This is a great result and legacy.

 He worked with Iraqi leaders to build an Army capable of retaking Mosul … and also improved cooperation between the different militias there. You didn’t mention this.

 Real experts on Iran are touting the multi-lateral agreement closing down Iran’s ability to produce nuclear material and weapons….they say this agreement will give legitimacy to a country that simply wants to be a player in the middle east and whose impact result in greater stability in this area.

 Under Obama we have not committed troops in the Syrian conflict …. one so complex and far from our national interest that this merits praise.

 He has also been allowing the CIA to conduct covert operations to stabilize Ukraine and punish the Russians for Crimea.

 Why be so unnecessarily one sided that you come off as just another right-wing ass?

 John G. Schuiteman, Ph.D.

Ashland, VA 23005

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Schuiteman,

It is angry letters like yours that seem to sow dissension since you are, I fear, at times intellectually dishonest.

I never wrote or implied the description “simple minded” or “juvenile”; Obama certainly has a vision and sought to implement it—one gleaned from his memoirs, his past associations, his apology tour, his Cairo speech, his various interviews, and his actions.

I was not “gloating” or “myopic” but rather factual in describing an Obama legacy—reset with Putin, abrupt withdrawal in late 2011 from a quiet Iraq, the Libya/Benghazi violence, the Iran deal, the Syrian calamity, estrangement from Israel, outreach to Cuba—that even in the eyes of many Democratic observers has not worked, at least from the view of enhancing global and U.S. security. But from Obama’s standpoint of scaling down U.S. influence, it has been a smashing success.

You are not factual in your letter. Obama came into office on January 2009; the fatality rate in Iraq that month was 16 deaths—not “100.” By December of 2009 it was 3 a month—less than the monthly accident rate in the U.S. military. No wonder Biden (who flipped on the war and, when a presidential candidate, opposed it) suddenly called the quiet in Iraq possibly the administration’s “greatest achievement.” By December 2010, 1 soldier had died that month, and when Obama finished pulling out in December 2011 (as he praised Iraq’s stability) it was 0 deaths. That decision was perhaps analogous to a hypothetical Eisenhower in late 1955 up for reelection like Obama, promising to get out of the Korean War that he did not “start,” and therefore yanking all U.S. troops out by election day 1956 from a relatively quiet Korea. What would Seoul look like today—something akin to Mosul or Baghdad?

Again, when Obama pulled all U.S. troops out there were 0 fatalities in December 2011. That ensuing vacuum resurrected radical Sunni Islamic terrorists under the new ISIS imprimatur, brought in Iran, collapsed Iraq, was a catalyst of the destruction of Syria, and 500,000 dead—and promoted now a steady reinsertion of U.S. troops.

Are you now bragging that, after yanking all troops out of a quiet Iraq as a good thing, it was a better thing that he put some back in to stabilize a now violent Iraq?

You become completely myopic when you write that Iran “simply wants to be a player in the middle east (sic) and whose impact result (sic) in greater stability in this area.”

Iran has little actual need for a nuclear program, given its vast fossil fuels reserves, but a great need if it wishes to acquire a bomb and to spread its influence throughout the region and expand its Shiite/Iranian/Assad/Hezbollah arc. If the deal is not overturned, a rich and influential Iran will set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, if it has not already. If the deal was transparent, why did we send cash at night on a pallet to the Iranians? Has their anti-Western rhetoric or action scaled down after the agreement? Are they working for peace in Syria? Reaching out to Israel? Praising Obama for his compromise? Respecting ships in the Gulf?

Iran’s terrorism has been evident worldwide. There is no stability “in this area.” Obama’s Iran deal has had one good result: it created a new alliance between moderate Sunni regimes, such as Jordan, Egypt, and some Gulf states, and Israel, whose mutual fears of a nuclear Iran and the American-sponsored deal have brought them together.

Yes, we did not commit troops into Syria nor send aid to an ephemeral anti-Assad, anti-ISIS opposition, but we did threaten military action if WMDs were used (Obama’s “redline”); when they were used and we did nothing, we all but invited the Russians in for the first time since they were expelled by the Egyptians over 40 years ago. Our failure to provide aid to non-ISIS groups, or to create sanctuaries for refugees in the Syrian hinterland helped spur mass death and mass migrations to Europe —which may well be the straw that breaks the back of the European Union.

I would not bring up “punishments” for Ukraine and Crimea, which I do not think registered much with Putin. Obama’s own supporters have criticized his strange passive-aggressive reset with Putin, in which after empowering him (the silly plastic reset button, cancelling missile defense with the Poles and Czechs, trashing Bush’s readjustment to Putin over Ossetia, the open mic post-election promises to be “flexible,” the pass given years of Russian cyber attacks, the attack on Romney’s warning about Putin, etc.), Obama then ridiculed Putin in puerile fashion (class cut up, into macho displays for domestic consumption). Sadly talking trash and carrying a twig is a bad combination; yet we see just that mixture again with his most recent threats to China over stealing a drone, and his promises to hit back at Putin’s alleged cyber crimes. I fear they both will either laugh or cry at our braggadocio.

Obama has set a precedent: you can with impunity swallow whole countries, build artificial island bases, take U.S. ships or drones, hack government agencies, but don’t ever be even accused of hacking in a manner that in theory could hurt a liberal candidate—this for Obama is tantamount to a cause for war.

Victor D. Hanson, Ph.D.

Selma CA 93662

Has Trump Nominated Too Many Military Leaders—Or Not Enough?

 By Victor Davis Hanson// National Review
Choosing military men for top cabinet spots is not unprecedented, nor is it foolish given how Washington insiders have performed.
President-elect Donald Trump is being faulted for supposedly appointing too many retired generals to cabinet-level jobs and “militarizing” the government.
Former lieutenant general Michael Flynn is slated to be national security adviser. Retired Marine general James Mattis has been nominated as defense secretary. Retired Marine general John Kelly is Trump’s nominee for secretary of homeland security. High-ranking officers such as General David Petraeus and Admiral Michael Rogers have been rumored for other positions in the Trump administration.

Continue reading “Has Trump Nominated Too Many Military Leaders—Or Not Enough?”

From an Angry Reader:

Re: Obama’s initiatives

What a horrible president and yet, 57% approval rating! Wow! How is that possible! I think he did quite well considering that Republicans vowed on the first day not to work with him and never did!

 Connie Knapp

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Connie Knapp,

Irony noted.

Obama, I think as of this weekend had a 53% approval according to the realclearpolitics.com average. But in just a year, yes, he has jumped 10 points. Why?

No one quite knows, but I will suggest 5 reasons: Continue reading