Commentary Magazine


Posts For: June 18, 2013

China’s Atrocities Don’t Interest Americans

Last week, the New York Times finally ran a piece on a story that had been circulation around the Internet for months. A woman purchasing a package of Halloween decorations at a K-Mart in Oregon found a letter in English placed there by one of the workers who had made the product. It said the following:

“Sir: If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization,” said the note, which was tucked between two ersatz tombstones and fell out when the woman, Julie Keith, opened the box in her living room last October. “Thousands people here who are under the persicution [sic] of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever.”

Ms. Keith was profoundly affected by this shocking message—whose author was recently found—but knew nothing about the situation in the Laogai, the Chinese gulag where “re-education through labor” subjects hundreds of thousands if not many millions of Chinese criminals as well as religious believers and political dissidents to horrific conditions as well as torture and death. So do most Americans. But the really awful truth about the American view of China is that even those who know or ought to know what is going on there simply don’t care. Five days after the Times ran the story about the inmate’s letter, it published a piece about New York University’s decision to push out a prominent Chinese dissident for fear that his continued presence on campus would harm the school’s close financial relationship with Beijing. Just as any hope of abolishing these camps is made impossible by the fact that the Chinese police profit from the suffering of their inmates, so, too, American institutions and businesses are compromised by their financial ties to an evil system.

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Last week, the New York Times finally ran a piece on a story that had been circulation around the Internet for months. A woman purchasing a package of Halloween decorations at a K-Mart in Oregon found a letter in English placed there by one of the workers who had made the product. It said the following:

“Sir: If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization,” said the note, which was tucked between two ersatz tombstones and fell out when the woman, Julie Keith, opened the box in her living room last October. “Thousands people here who are under the persicution [sic] of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever.”

Ms. Keith was profoundly affected by this shocking message—whose author was recently found—but knew nothing about the situation in the Laogai, the Chinese gulag where “re-education through labor” subjects hundreds of thousands if not many millions of Chinese criminals as well as religious believers and political dissidents to horrific conditions as well as torture and death. So do most Americans. But the really awful truth about the American view of China is that even those who know or ought to know what is going on there simply don’t care. Five days after the Times ran the story about the inmate’s letter, it published a piece about New York University’s decision to push out a prominent Chinese dissident for fear that his continued presence on campus would harm the school’s close financial relationship with Beijing. Just as any hope of abolishing these camps is made impossible by the fact that the Chinese police profit from the suffering of their inmates, so, too, American institutions and businesses are compromised by their financial ties to an evil system.

Chen Guangcheng had his 15 minutes of fame when then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton persuaded the Chinese government to allow the blind lawyer to leave the country. Chen was a forceful critic of the country’s despotic one-child policies that have involved forced abortions and was given a law fellowship at NYU, but he was recently told to leave and vacate the apartment the university gave him in Greenwich Village. NYU claims it has done nothing wrong and treated Chen with generosity, but the school’s interest in disassociating itself from the dissident’s forceful criticism of China’s Communist rulers is clear. Like many American colleges, NYU is opening a Chinese campus and doesn’t want to pick fights with Beijing.

Chen said the following in a statement:

“The work of the Chinese Communists within academic circles in the United States is far greater than what people imagine, and some scholars have no option but to hold themselves back,” Mr. Chen said. “Academic independence and academic freedom in the United States are being greatly threatened by a totalitarian regime.”

According to NYU, Chen’s fellowship simply expired and it was time for him to move on to other opportunities. But even if that were true, the university’s well publicized generosity to scholars that it considers academic stars—including loans and fabulous vacation homes in the Hamptons—makes their eviction notice to a man who might be considered an academic luminary if education about human rights was a priority seem slightly suspicious.

But the problem here isn’t so much NYU’s hypocrisy or whether Chen simply has had a misunderstanding with the school. With the American economy inextricably tied to that of China via an astronomical debt and trade imbalance and with U.S. consumers and industries addicted to the cheap goods produced in Chinese sweatshops or in concentration camps, there is no constituency behind protests aimed at highlighting abuses there.

China is not quite the totalitarian nightmare that it was under Mao as free enterprise has blossomed there, but neither is it remotely free. Political and religious freedom doesn’t exist there. Nor can private property truly be safe in a system where there is no rule of law. For all the talk about the lunacy in North Korea and other tyrannical nations, the scale of human rights abuses in the world’s most populous country dwarfs anything happening anywhere else.

Americans should be ashamed that they don’t know that the cheap stuff they purchase in stores here is paid for in the blood of suffering dissidents and religious believers. Where once mass movements pushed for change in the Soviet Union and even South Africa, people like Chen find themselves stranded in a free country that isn’t interested in what is going on in China. If they lash out in despair at this lamentable situation, who can blame them?

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The “Apolitical” Fantasy and the IRS

The ongoing saga of Edward Snowden has at least been moving in the right direction for President Obama. Snowden may once have tried to position himself as a whistleblower, but he has since devolved into ingratiating himself with authoritarian regimes by plying them with American national security secrets. While Pete is correct that the NSA story seems to be hurting voters’ opinion of Obama’s trustworthiness, Americans are by now realizing that they would be foolish to go the other extreme and place that trust in Snowden.

It is also (understandably) distracting the public’s attention from the scandals that preceded it, such as the IRS’s targeting of conservative political groups. And that scandal was a threat to Obama’s popularity as well because the administration’s story kept changing each time it was shown to be false. Americans were tuning in to coverage of the IRS scandal because it just kept getting worse. And the latest testimony released by the House Oversight Committee should make the president thankful to have Snowden’s distraction. The Hill reports:

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The ongoing saga of Edward Snowden has at least been moving in the right direction for President Obama. Snowden may once have tried to position himself as a whistleblower, but he has since devolved into ingratiating himself with authoritarian regimes by plying them with American national security secrets. While Pete is correct that the NSA story seems to be hurting voters’ opinion of Obama’s trustworthiness, Americans are by now realizing that they would be foolish to go the other extreme and place that trust in Snowden.

It is also (understandably) distracting the public’s attention from the scandals that preceded it, such as the IRS’s targeting of conservative political groups. And that scandal was a threat to Obama’s popularity as well because the administration’s story kept changing each time it was shown to be false. Americans were tuning in to coverage of the IRS scandal because it just kept getting worse. And the latest testimony released by the House Oversight Committee should make the president thankful to have Snowden’s distraction. The Hill reports:

Holly Paz, formerly a D.C. official dealing with tax-exempt groups, told interviewers from the House Oversight Committee that Cincinnati staffers were “apolitical,” and used the term “Tea Party” as a way to flag groups that might play a role in campaigns.

Paz compared the staffers use of Tea Party as a shorthand for any type of political activity to the way people call tissues by the brand name “Kleenex.”

“Many of these employees have been with the IRS for decades and were used to a world where how they talked about things internally was not something that would be public or that anyone would be interested in,” Paz told investigators in the first closed-door interview conducted on the IRS controversy. …

In all, Paz said she reviewed roughly 20 to 30 of the flagged Tea Party cases – the latest development suggesting that staffers in Cincinnati weren’t solely responsible for the targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

The Hill adds later on:

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told Univision on Monday that “the screening that took place in Cincinnati” was unacceptable, and stressed that “there is no evidence at all that suggests that there was any political involvement in any of these decisions.”

To work backwards: the treasury secretary is still attempting to pass off the false impression that the political targeting of the president’s critics was limited to the Cincinnati field office when we know–and which Paz’s testimony confirms–targeting was overseen by higher-ups in Washington D.C. and cases were reviewed from there as well.

But the explanation Paz offers is risible–not to mention flatly contradicted by the other testimony, the hearings, and the available evidence. Yet it is nonetheless revealing. Paz says that Tea Party was just code for political because IRS bureaucrats have their own terminology that the outside world doesn’t need to know or understand. But the end result was that conservative groups were targeted and treated unfairly. Thus even if Paz is being honest about how she interpreted the instructions, it does nothing to rebut the allegations of institutional bias at the IRS. If anything, it reinforces them.

The tax-exempt division at the IRS is weeding out what they deem to be overly political groups from those that are genuinely educational and philanthropic. And what do you know–conservative groups were deemed to be overly political and their liberal counterparts were deemed genuinely educational or philanthropic! Paz’s claim that she wasn’t consciously making this distinction is almost believable. She wasn’t attempting to bully or silence conservatives. She was simply pursuing what is right and good, and if it just so happens that liberal groups are right and good and conservatives are not, well then who is to blame? Surely not the IRS’s guardians of the light. Perhaps conservatives ought to do some soul searching and figure out where they went wrong.

This is a corollary to something Jonah Goldberg has long written about–the liberal fantasy that they follow not an ideology but merely a finely tuned moral compass. As Goldberg wrote last month:

For liberals, ideology is only something the other guys have. Liberalism is just doing the good and smart thing. If you think the good and smart thing is ideological, that’s just proof you’re a rightwing ideologue (or a racist!). The fact that doing good nearly always requires more government is just a coincidence.

And so it is with Paz’s “defense,” such as it is, of the IRS. If you think that there was an element of partisanship to what the IRS was doing, then you’re simply turning education and charity into a political issue–and revealing your own partisan biases in the process. Any upstanding, nonpartisan individual would do what the IRS bureaucrats were doing.

Meanwhile, Americans are, to their credit, not buying it. CNN’s newest poll, released this morning, shows 47 percent of respondents believed the White House ordered the political targeting of conservative groups by the IRS, a 10-percent increase, and that a majority believes the scandal “is very important to the nation.” The belief that American left-liberalism is synonymous with unimpeachable moral authority seems to be a minority view.

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Palestinians Can Resolve Israeli Debate

With the Palestinians stiffing Secretary of State John Kerry’s calls for them to rejoin talks with Israel without—as President Obama has asked them to do—preconditions, there really isn’t much to talk about what we call, for lack of a better term, the Middle East peace process. So instead the media is focusing on what is a purely theoretical argument between members of Israel’s government and claiming that this dispute, rather than the failure of the Palestinians to take advantage of President Obama’s advocacy for a two-state solution, is responsible for the impasse.

That’s the upshot of the furor over recent statements by Israel’s Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads one of the parties that make up Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition, and Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud, to the extent that the two-state solution is already dead and buried. According to Jodi Rudoren of the New York Times, this illustrates the deep division within Israeli society about both the desirability and the viability of the idea that peace will be achieved by creating a Palestinian state living alongside Israel. But the tempest over Bennett and Danon, both of whom would like Israel to begin to act as if there will never be a resolution of the conflict, isn’t really a new version of a decades-old internal debate about how peace can be achieved. That strategic argument was pretty much resolved in the last 20 years as even most of the political right that had long believed that Israel could settle all of the land west of the Jordan River as well as having peace came to understand that wasn’t going to happen.

Instead, what Israel is currently experiencing is a debate about tactics. Namely, should the country go on pretending as if peace with the Palestinians is possible to please Washington or call things by their rightful names and simply do what they want in terms of annexing part of the West Bank (Bennett’s solution) or simply stop talking about two states as Danon seems to want to do. The former position is more practical in terms of bolstering Israel’s diplomatic position, but the fact that Bennett and Danon are saying that there will be no two-state solution does not make it any less likely to happen if the Palestinians are willing to accept it. Those who claim these statements are actually damaging the prospects of peace don’t understand the facts of life in the Middle East or the realities of Israeli politics.

There is only one reason why Bennett and Danon are able to claim that the two-state solution is dead. It’s because they’re right.

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With the Palestinians stiffing Secretary of State John Kerry’s calls for them to rejoin talks with Israel without—as President Obama has asked them to do—preconditions, there really isn’t much to talk about what we call, for lack of a better term, the Middle East peace process. So instead the media is focusing on what is a purely theoretical argument between members of Israel’s government and claiming that this dispute, rather than the failure of the Palestinians to take advantage of President Obama’s advocacy for a two-state solution, is responsible for the impasse.

That’s the upshot of the furor over recent statements by Israel’s Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads one of the parties that make up Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition, and Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud, to the extent that the two-state solution is already dead and buried. According to Jodi Rudoren of the New York Times, this illustrates the deep division within Israeli society about both the desirability and the viability of the idea that peace will be achieved by creating a Palestinian state living alongside Israel. But the tempest over Bennett and Danon, both of whom would like Israel to begin to act as if there will never be a resolution of the conflict, isn’t really a new version of a decades-old internal debate about how peace can be achieved. That strategic argument was pretty much resolved in the last 20 years as even most of the political right that had long believed that Israel could settle all of the land west of the Jordan River as well as having peace came to understand that wasn’t going to happen.

Instead, what Israel is currently experiencing is a debate about tactics. Namely, should the country go on pretending as if peace with the Palestinians is possible to please Washington or call things by their rightful names and simply do what they want in terms of annexing part of the West Bank (Bennett’s solution) or simply stop talking about two states as Danon seems to want to do. The former position is more practical in terms of bolstering Israel’s diplomatic position, but the fact that Bennett and Danon are saying that there will be no two-state solution does not make it any less likely to happen if the Palestinians are willing to accept it. Those who claim these statements are actually damaging the prospects of peace don’t understand the facts of life in the Middle East or the realities of Israeli politics.

There is only one reason why Bennett and Danon are able to claim that the two-state solution is dead. It’s because they’re right.

Having turned down three offers of statehood including shares of Jerusalem and almost all of the West Bank, the Palestinians have repeatedly demonstrated they are still unwilling to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn. With Gaza under the thumb of Hamas and the Fatah kleptocracy in charge of the West Bank equally unwilling to negotiate an agreement, there is no realistic scenario whereby a peace accord that actually ended the conflict can possibly be concluded anytime soon. Contrary to the regular scoldings Israel gets from President Obama and people like former President Clinton, Israel doesn’t need to be pushed to take risks for peace. It has already taken dangerous gambles in the name of peace and paid for them in blood. The status quo may be unpleasant, but the notion of further territorial withdrawals—which might turn the West Bank into a terrorist launching pad like Gaza has become—is the sort of thing no rational Israeli government will accept under these circumstances no matter who is leading it.

It is true that elements of the current coalition are not in favor of even a theoretical two state solution, but that is not the case with Netanyahu. Moreover, even Bennett and Danon know (though they would be loathe to admit it) that were the Palestinians to adopt a straightforward position accepting peace with a Jewish state and ending the conflict for all time (including the complete renunciation of terror and all violence against Israel and dropping the right of return for the descendants of the Arab refugees of Israel’s War of Independence), it is almost certain they would discover that the overwhelming majority of Israelis would back such a deal even if it meant painful sacrifices just as they endorsed the hope of the Oslo Accords 20 years ago. Neither Bennett nor Danon or even Netanyahu could stop peace if the chance of achieving it was even remotely realistic. But after 20 years of peace processing in which Israelis came to understand that they were trading land for more terror, not peace, most of the country doesn’t even think the issue is worth arguing about anymore, as last winter’s Knesset elections proved.

Support for the peace process has gone the way of the old narrowly divided Israeli electorate between right and left. If even the right knows it can’t simply hold onto all of the West Bank now, most of the left has acknowledged that its illusions about the Palestinians wanting peace are equally unrealistic.

That leaves Israel stuck with a situation that everyone says is not viable in the long run but for which there is no viable alternative. In the absence of a real debate, the right produces empty rhetoric about more settlements (not going to happen since even Netanyahu doesn’t think its worth antagonizing the West) or annexation that has zero chance of passage while the left sometimes talks as if the experience of the last 20 years has simply been flushed down the memory hole.

The rest of Israel eschews such fantasies and remains committed to a two-state solution in theory while understanding that it must await a sea change in Palestinian political culture in order to become reality. That’s why the arguments about what Bennett and Danon have said are a tempest-in-a-teapot with no connection to a genuine policy decision. Only the Palestinians can resolve the contradictions that bedevil Israeli politics. But since Netanyahu will never have to confront his political allies over peace, it doesn’t matter what they say about it. And with a Palestinian leadership that is unwilling as well as incapable of making peace, that confrontation isn’t going to happen in the foreseeable future.

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Managing Expectations in Taliban Talks

If you believe the headlines, peace is breaking out–or about to break out–in Afghanistan. The breathlessly relayed news of the moment is that the Taliban have agreed to open a diplomatic office in Qatar to launch peace talks with the U.S. and the Karzai government. All I can say is: Don’t get your hopes up.

There have been numerous reports in the past about peace talks starting and even preliminary contacts between the U.S. and the Taliban. (For a list, click here.) Most recently, in 2011, the Taliban actually dispatched negotiators to Qatar and talks were on the verge of starting except that, under heavy criticism, the Obama administration balked at releasing senior Taliban detainees from Guantanamo as a confidence-boosting measure.

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If you believe the headlines, peace is breaking out–or about to break out–in Afghanistan. The breathlessly relayed news of the moment is that the Taliban have agreed to open a diplomatic office in Qatar to launch peace talks with the U.S. and the Karzai government. All I can say is: Don’t get your hopes up.

There have been numerous reports in the past about peace talks starting and even preliminary contacts between the U.S. and the Taliban. (For a list, click here.) Most recently, in 2011, the Taliban actually dispatched negotiators to Qatar and talks were on the verge of starting except that, under heavy criticism, the Obama administration balked at releasing senior Taliban detainees from Guantanamo as a confidence-boosting measure.

The odds that the talks this time will produce a breakthrough are not high. The best bet would be a change of heart in Islamabad: the Pakistani government, the primary patron of the Taliban, has long feared it would lose influence in Afghanistan if its proxies cut a separate deal with Kabul. Perhaps the army and its Inter-Services Intelligence–the real national-security decision-makers–are rethinking this policy because they fear the rise of fundamentalism represented not only by the Afghan Taliban but the Pakistan Taliban as well. Perhaps. But there is little sign of a substantive rethinking of Pakistan’s policy, which it has consistently pursued since the 1980s if not before, of sponsoring militant Islamist organizations within Afghanistan.

And there is little sign that the Taliban are so war weary that they are ready to give up. Why should they, when they know that, thanks to President Obama’s self-imposed timeline, the bulk of U.S. troops will be gone within a year and a half? Taliban foot soldiers in Afghanistan have suffered serious, though not crippling, setbacks, but their leaders continue to live in safety in Pakistan. If Obama were serious about pursuing negotiations, he would never have announced that timeline and he would have pushed the Taliban much harder militarily by delaying the drawdown of U.S. forces.

History shows that insurgent groups such as the IRA, the Basque ETA, the FMLN in El Salvador, and FARC in Colombia only get serious about making peace when they have lost all hope of a military victory. The Taliban cause, alas, is far from hopeless. There is good reason for Taliban commanders to imagine they might yet attain power at gunpoint–and for that reason it is unlikely that they will lay down their guns.

There is nothing inherently wrong with talking to the Taliban. At the very least it may be possible to gain useful intelligence. But if Karzai, under American pressure, makes major concessions to the Taliban, the likely result will not be peace in our time but rather the revival of Afghanistan’s civil war, because the old Northern Alliance will not accept any deal that cedes significant power to their historic enemies.

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2016 Election Gets Its First Endorsement

Did you think the seemingly endless 2012 presidential election started way too soon? If so, you weren’t alone. But we may think back on that long slog as a brief interlude long before we get to November 2016. Though the discussion about the next presidential election began even before Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney, the 2016 race may have begun for all intents and purposes yesterday when the first official endorsement was announced. Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill said she was backing Hillary Clinton in an official statement that was posted on the ReadyforHillary.com website. McCaskill’s backing for Clinton is hardly a surprise but the timing may indicate a deliberate strategy on the part of the former first lady and secretary of state. The announcement may be the first of a series of high-profile endorsements that will occur at regular intervals over the course of the next year as Clinton seeks to do something that only incumbent presidents can generally aspire to: clear the field of all serious competition among Democrats.

Clinton’s not the only likely presidential contender making noises these days. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who shapes up as a first-tier candidate for the Republican nod, has been concentrating on his re-election race this year. But this morning on “Morning Joe” he showed he was thinking 2016 by taking a shot at President Obama for what seemed like the first time since Hurricane Sandy when he mocked his belated “charm offensive” with the GOP.

But both Clinton and Christie (whose late night TV appearances have kept him in the public eye even on days when he’s not making news), might want to pause and consider whether their high profile this early in the run-up to 2016 is entirely a good thing. Clinton’s favorability ratings have dropped drastically since leaving the State Department and returning, albeit sparingly, back into the political fray. Indeed, a recent Gallup poll may indicate that the best thing for a 2016 contender would be to keep their profile low at this incredibly early stage of the contest.

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Did you think the seemingly endless 2012 presidential election started way too soon? If so, you weren’t alone. But we may think back on that long slog as a brief interlude long before we get to November 2016. Though the discussion about the next presidential election began even before Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney, the 2016 race may have begun for all intents and purposes yesterday when the first official endorsement was announced. Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill said she was backing Hillary Clinton in an official statement that was posted on the ReadyforHillary.com website. McCaskill’s backing for Clinton is hardly a surprise but the timing may indicate a deliberate strategy on the part of the former first lady and secretary of state. The announcement may be the first of a series of high-profile endorsements that will occur at regular intervals over the course of the next year as Clinton seeks to do something that only incumbent presidents can generally aspire to: clear the field of all serious competition among Democrats.

Clinton’s not the only likely presidential contender making noises these days. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who shapes up as a first-tier candidate for the Republican nod, has been concentrating on his re-election race this year. But this morning on “Morning Joe” he showed he was thinking 2016 by taking a shot at President Obama for what seemed like the first time since Hurricane Sandy when he mocked his belated “charm offensive” with the GOP.

But both Clinton and Christie (whose late night TV appearances have kept him in the public eye even on days when he’s not making news), might want to pause and consider whether their high profile this early in the run-up to 2016 is entirely a good thing. Clinton’s favorability ratings have dropped drastically since leaving the State Department and returning, albeit sparingly, back into the political fray. Indeed, a recent Gallup poll may indicate that the best thing for a 2016 contender would be to keep their profile low at this incredibly early stage of the contest.

Gallup shows that of the most likely Republican candidates the one who has had the least publicity in the first half of 2013 is the one with the highest net favorability ratings. Surprisingly, after six months in which Christie and Senators Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have rarely been out of the limelight while the 2012 vice presidential candidate has been hard to find in either the headlines or the talk shows, Paul Ryan leads those other contenders by a large margin when it comes to favorability among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.

Ryan has a whopping 69 percent favorability rating and a net favorability (which deducts the unfavorable numbers from the total of those who like the person) of 57 percent. Rubio is second in both categories with a 57 percent favorability number and a net of 47 percent. Rand Paul was third with 56 percent and 43 percent.

But perhaps just as interesting are the numbers of the other two politicians rated in the poll.

Chris Christie’s favorability numbers are competitive with a 53 percent rating. But he has the highest unfavorable ratings of the quintet with 25 percent of those GOP sympathizers saying they don’t like him. That resulted in Christie having a very low 28 percent net favorability that placed him in dead last.

As for Ted Cruz, he may have become among the most well known figures in Washington during the freshman senator’s six months in office. But though his penchant for mussing up the hair of both Republicans and Democrats has made him the darling of the Tea Party set and the liberal media’s unofficial public enemy No. 1, he hasn’t yet penetrated the national consciousness as much as the other Republicans. Cruz has the lowest favorability number at 40 as well as having the lowest number of unfavorable answers at only eight percent. But that’s because a clear majority of Republicans—52 percent—have not yet formed an opinion of Cruz.

There is still a very long way to go until the first primary and caucus votes are cast at the start of 2016, and all these numbers will fluctuate until then. But it is a fact that the more Clinton is out in the open—something that the ongoing murmurings about Benghazi and the State Department scandals on her watch will make inevitable—the more her image will be tarnished.

That might not encourage any Democrat to try and derail her effort to become the first female major party presidential nominee. But the same factor will influence the lead-up to the GOP race.

I don’t doubt that by the time we get to 2015, when the presidential race will really take off, more Republicans will have made up their minds about Cruz. But while conservatives would be foolish to write off Christie’s chances, resistance to him on the right does complicate his path to the nomination. If Ryan does intend to run in 2016—something that is still very much in doubt in contrast to the near certainty about Rubio, Paul and Christie—his decision to lay low this year may prove to be very wise.

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Focus on Chemical Weapons in Syria

Two and half years into the Syrian civil war, with 93,000 confirmed deaths and counting, more than 5 million displaced civilians (that’s 25 percent of the entire population) and evidence of chemical weapons’ use, Western reluctance to intervene is still driven by our inability to decide who, among the contenders, is worse.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made up his mind–a victory by the Sunni Salafists, which include Chechen fighters, is the worst-case scenario. He thus sought to leverage Western discomfort yesterday at the G-8 in Northern Ireland by highlighting their savagery, referring to an act of cannibalism filmed on YouTube by what appears to be a rebel fighter, and then asking, rhetorically, “Are these the people you want to support?”

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Two and half years into the Syrian civil war, with 93,000 confirmed deaths and counting, more than 5 million displaced civilians (that’s 25 percent of the entire population) and evidence of chemical weapons’ use, Western reluctance to intervene is still driven by our inability to decide who, among the contenders, is worse.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made up his mind–a victory by the Sunni Salafists, which include Chechen fighters, is the worst-case scenario. He thus sought to leverage Western discomfort yesterday at the G-8 in Northern Ireland by highlighting their savagery, referring to an act of cannibalism filmed on YouTube by what appears to be a rebel fighter, and then asking, rhetorically, “Are these the people you want to support?”

He has a point–and so does the West when it wishes to remove a regime whose conduct does not fare any better.

Given the choice, then, it is remarkable that a third option–taking chemical weapons out of the equation–still has not emerged in the policy debates. After all, at least from a Western point of view, the possibility of an al-Qaeda/Muslim Brotherhood victory should not be that attractive when one considers that the new rulers will quickly get their hands on the entire Syrian arsenal of both conventional and non-conventional weapons.

President Obama and Mr. Putin could only agree that the best way to avoid a superpower proxy war through escalation is by pushing both sides to a negotiated settlement. As for Western leaders, their anxiety about the rebels might find a way out if chemical weapons could be neutralized. Whether that is militarily feasible is an open question–but certainly one worth asking.

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GOP Not Betting on Gomez

For all the cynicism directed at the rational self-interest of American politicians, it does serve to simplify political interpretation: when we aren’t expressly told the motives of a given political actor, we can pretty well figure them out. The upcoming special Senate election in Massachusetts is a good example.

Last month, Julio Ricardo Varela took to the pages of the Boston Globe to ask a seemingly important question: “Gabriel Gomez is the GOP’s dream. So why isn’t the party backing him?” What he meant was that Gomez, the Republican nominee for the seat vacated by John Kerry, is a pathbreaking Hispanic candidate with an impressive background in both the military and the private sector. Yet he wasn’t getting much financial help from the national Republican Party.

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For all the cynicism directed at the rational self-interest of American politicians, it does serve to simplify political interpretation: when we aren’t expressly told the motives of a given political actor, we can pretty well figure them out. The upcoming special Senate election in Massachusetts is a good example.

Last month, Julio Ricardo Varela took to the pages of the Boston Globe to ask a seemingly important question: “Gabriel Gomez is the GOP’s dream. So why isn’t the party backing him?” What he meant was that Gomez, the Republican nominee for the seat vacated by John Kerry, is a pathbreaking Hispanic candidate with an impressive background in both the military and the private sector. Yet he wasn’t getting much financial help from the national Republican Party.

Additionally, Politico reports that Scott Brown, the still popular former senator and GOP winner of the last Massachusetts special Senate election, “has been glaringly absent” from the campaign trail on behalf of Gomez, before musing about why that could be: “Whatever the reason, some Bay State Republicans believe that not fully deploying the most popular GOP pol in the state is a mistake.” At Roll Call, Stu Rothenberg provides an answer: An interesting election is not the same thing as a close election. He writes:

The current political environment in the Bay State doesn’t seem as bad for Democrats (or Obama) as it did in 2010, and Gomez lacks Brown’s political experience and proven campaign skills. For those reasons, he started with a harder road to travel than did Brown….

In addition, we have always believed that Gomez’s pro-life position on abortion gives Markey and his allies an obvious late line of attack that limits the Republican’s late appeal to undecided voters and caps his strength among self-identified Democrats. Because Brown was pro-choice, he didn’t have that problem….

Finally, we remained skeptical about Gomez’s winning coalition.

While Brown won the 2010 special election by drawing about one-fifth of Democrats, Gomez has never come close to that percentage; the Globe survey showed him winning only 12 percent. Given that, Gomez needs to win more than 60 percent of independents to have a chance to win, a very tall order. He has been winning among independents but drew only 51 percent in the Globe survey and as much as 55 percent in other polls.

The reason the national GOP isn’t putting its money on Gomez is most likely the same reason Scott Brown isn’t mugging for the cameras on Gomez’s behalf: no one thinks Gomez will win. And the polls are predicting an electoral result that bears them out. That doesn’t mean Gomez is a poor candidate–far from it. It just doesn’t matter all that much. As Rothenberg noted, not only did Brown run in unique conditions, he also held political positions that hewed to those of the voters in Massachusetts. And he still lost his reelection bid.

Those last two points are the most important. If Brown can’t win a general election despite incumbency, high approval ratings and a voting record truly representative of the state’s political identity, it will be difficult for a more conservative candidate to even keep the election close.

It can be argued that the GOP didn’t need to hold the purse strings so tightly this year because it’s an off year and there aren’t many elections demanding their funding and attention. But money spent is still money gone. And the winner of next week’s special election in Massachusetts is going to have to defend the seat next year in a 2014 general election. Few think Gomez can win this year, but even fewer think he could hold the seat next year, which means a 2013 investment in Gomez is either futile or a down payment on next year’s steep odds when the mid-term elections will stress both parties’ pocketbooks.

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Rowhani’s Win Is a Victory for the Regime

Despite widespread disagreement about how Hassan Rowhani’s election as president affects the chances of a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear program, just about everyone appears to agree on one thing: The victory of a “relative moderate” came as a complete and unwelcome surprise to Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. I’d been wondering whether anyone was ever going to challenge this blatantly irrational consensus, but finally, someone has. “I interpret his election in one way only: The regime wanted him to win,” said Dr. Soli Shahvar, head of Haifa University’s Ezri Center for Iran and Gulf Studies, in an interview with the Tower.

Shahvar pointed out that not only was Rowhani handpicked by the regime to be one of only eight candidates, while hundreds of others were disqualified, but the candidate list was blatantly tilted to ensure that he would place first: It pitted a single “moderate” against five conservatives (two candidates dropped out before the vote), thereby ensuring that the conservative vote would fragment. “If they had wanted one of the conservatives to win, they would have gotten four of the five conservatives to drop out of the race,” Shahvar said.

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Despite widespread disagreement about how Hassan Rowhani’s election as president affects the chances of a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear program, just about everyone appears to agree on one thing: The victory of a “relative moderate” came as a complete and unwelcome surprise to Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. I’d been wondering whether anyone was ever going to challenge this blatantly irrational consensus, but finally, someone has. “I interpret his election in one way only: The regime wanted him to win,” said Dr. Soli Shahvar, head of Haifa University’s Ezri Center for Iran and Gulf Studies, in an interview with the Tower.

Shahvar pointed out that not only was Rowhani handpicked by the regime to be one of only eight candidates, while hundreds of others were disqualified, but the candidate list was blatantly tilted to ensure that he would place first: It pitted a single “moderate” against five conservatives (two candidates dropped out before the vote), thereby ensuring that the conservative vote would fragment. “If they had wanted one of the conservatives to win, they would have gotten four of the five conservatives to drop out of the race,” Shahvar said.

Indeed, though Shahvar didn’t mention it, that’s precisely what happened on the “moderate” side. Initially, there were two “moderates,” but former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami persuaded one, Mohammad Reza Aref, to withdraw so as not to split the moderate vote. It beggars belief that Khamenei couldn’t have engineered something similar on the conservative side had he so desired.

It’s also worth noting that throughout the campaign, Khamenei carefully avoided giving any hint as to which candidate he preferred. The widespread assumption that he preferred a conservative is unsupported by any evidence.

But the most convincing argument, to my mind, is one Shahvar didn’t make: the final vote tally. According to the official results, Rowhani clinched the contest in the first round by winning 50.7 percent of the vote. But for a regime widely suspected of committing massive electoral fraud to ensure Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reelection in 2009, it would have been child’s play to alter the vote count by the tiny fraction necessary to put Rowhani under 50 percent and force a second round. Moreover, it would have been perfectly safe, because none of the pre-election commentary foresaw Rowhani coming anywhere near victory. Thus had his tally been announced at, say, 49 percent instead, there would have been no suspicions of fraud; rather, everyone would have been amazed at his strong showing. And then, with conservatives pooling their forces behind a single candidate in the run-off, a narrow loss for Rowhani would have been equally unsuspicious.

It’s not hard to figure out why Khamenei would have wanted Rowhani to win: He desperately needed someone who could ease the international sanctions and stave off the threat of a military strike without actually conceding anything on the nuclear program. And Rowhani’s performance as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator in 2003-05 proved his skill in this regard. Indeed, he boasted of it: “While we were talking with the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in parts of the [nuclear conversion] facility in Isfahan,” Rowhani said in 2004. “By creating a calm environment, we were able to complete the work there.”

In the aftermath of Rowhani’s victory, American and European officials are already talking enthusiastically about a new round of negotiations, while Israeli analysts say the election has almost certainly delayed any possibility of military action against Iran’s nuclear program until 2014. Thus Khamenei has gotten exactly what he wanted. The only question is why all the “experts” are still portraying this as a defeat for the regime.

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Pompeo’s Challenge to Islamic Clergy

I have been traveling in Azerbaijan and Iraq for the better part of a month with sometimes limited Internet access, and so I missed this speech by second-term congressman Mike Pompeo. It is worth watching. Pompeo serves on the House Intelligence Committee, and is a graduate both of West Point and Harvard Law School. Pompeo notes:

There have now been at least a dozen attacks by Muslim terrorists on U.S. soil since Ramzi Yousef’s parked rental van exploded in the basement of the World Trade Center on February 26 of 1993. Some have caused death and injury—such as the 9/11 attacks in 2001and Nidal Hasan’s mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas. Other attacks—such as Faisal Shahzad’s fizzled Times Square bombing or the unsuccessful underwear bombing of a flight—were thwarted or aborted…

He then argues that it is no longer enough simply to dismiss those who justify terrorism in religion as misunderstanding religion:

If a religion claims to be one of peace, Mr. Speaker, its leaders must reject violence that is perpetrated in its name. Some clerics today suggest that modern jihad is non-violent and is only about making oneself a better Muslim. Perhaps that’s true for moderate Muslims, but extremists seek to revive the era when most Islamic clerics understood jihad to be holy war.

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I have been traveling in Azerbaijan and Iraq for the better part of a month with sometimes limited Internet access, and so I missed this speech by second-term congressman Mike Pompeo. It is worth watching. Pompeo serves on the House Intelligence Committee, and is a graduate both of West Point and Harvard Law School. Pompeo notes:

There have now been at least a dozen attacks by Muslim terrorists on U.S. soil since Ramzi Yousef’s parked rental van exploded in the basement of the World Trade Center on February 26 of 1993. Some have caused death and injury—such as the 9/11 attacks in 2001and Nidal Hasan’s mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas. Other attacks—such as Faisal Shahzad’s fizzled Times Square bombing or the unsuccessful underwear bombing of a flight—were thwarted or aborted…

He then argues that it is no longer enough simply to dismiss those who justify terrorism in religion as misunderstanding religion:

If a religion claims to be one of peace, Mr. Speaker, its leaders must reject violence that is perpetrated in its name. Some clerics today suggest that modern jihad is non-violent and is only about making oneself a better Muslim. Perhaps that’s true for moderate Muslims, but extremists seek to revive the era when most Islamic clerics understood jihad to be holy war.

And he takes on an issue which too many scholars and institutions dependent on Saudi, Qatari or Persian Gulf money are afraid to address:

Decades of Middle Eastern oil money have propounded this more extreme, violent interpretation in mosques around the world. Less than two months after the 9/11 atrocities an Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood preacher who is probably the most influential Sunni cleric [Yusuf Qaradawi] today, declared suicide bombing to be legitimate. He said:  “These are heroic commando and martyrdom attacks and should not be called suicide.”

He recognizes that not every organization has tainted itself with Saudi or Qatari funding, and that many do not hide behind false accusations of “Islamophobia” so often leveled by groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) or the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) to silence discussion of the battle about theological interpretation within Islam, giving well-deserved shout-outs to both Zuhdi Jasser’s American Islamic Forum for Democracy, and Zainab al-Suwaij’s American Islamic Congress, who have tackled the problem of extremism head on.

Nor does he ignore the fact that similar battles of interpretation have occurred within Christianity:

My own faith has occasionally been hijacked in the name of violence and cruelty, including in Kansas—my home state—by Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church. In response, hundreds of Protestant ministers preached that Mr. Phelps’ actions violate the most fundamental Christian traditions and denounced he and his church’s evil acts.

Here is Pompeo’s final challenge, his call for what Muslim leaders must do if they want to defeat the scourge of terrorism:

So what is it that these Islamic leaders must say?  First, that there is never any justification for terrorism. No political goal legitimizes terrorism. Terrorism is never excusable as “resistance.”  Imams must state unequivocally that terrorist actions—killing and maiming—sully Islam. They must also publicly and repeatedly denounce radical clerics who seek to justify terrorism. There is a battle of interpretation within Islam. It is not enough to deny responsibility by saying one’s own interpretation doesn’t support terrorism. Moderate imams must strive to ensure that no Muslim finds solace for terrorism in the Qu’ran. They must cite the Qu’ran as evidence that the murder of innocents is not permitted by good, believing Muslims and must immediately refute all claims to the contrary. Finally, Muslim leaders must say that there is no room for militant Islamism in the religion of peace. These statements must be made publicly, frequently and in the mosques… You know we have to call evil by its name in order to stamp it out. Downplaying atrocities and rampages ensures more of them.

Radicalism is a problem that must be tackled head on, not one that will disappear if those who discuss it are muzzled or threatened. Pompeo’s analogy between the reaction to the Westboro hate and that of radical Islamism is apt. Indeed, perhaps the response to Westboro should be the model American imams adopt to counter the cancer of radicalism in their midst.

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Obama Playing by Rowhani’s Timetable

The problem with the willingness of so many in the West to buy into the myth that Hassan Rowhani’s election in Iran provides a meaningful opening for nuclear diplomacy isn’t so much the possibility that the U.S. will be suckered into a terrible agreement with Tehran. The Iranians have proved time and again—including during the time when it was Rowhani being the chief deceiver—that they are never going to sign any deal that will place meaningful restrictions on their ability to enrich uranium. There is even less chance that the ayatollahs will allow the West to impose a solution that will “end” Iran’s nuclear program as the president pledged to do during the foreign policy debate with Mitt Romney last fall. No matter how many concessions the United States and its European allies offer Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the answer is always going to be no to any accord.

The real problem with the idiocy being promoted by purveyors of conventional foreign policy wisdom this week is that the infatuation with Rowhani will mean the United States will play the next year of Iran policy according to Tehran’s timetable.

That’s the main advantage that Khamenei has gained by allowing a seeming opponent to assume an office that has no real power over Iran’s nuclear program, its intervention in Syria or its support for international terrorism. If President Obama is serious about waiting, as he hinted at on Charlie Rose’s show last night, to see if Rowhani’s win will portend change, that means Iran may have obtained at least another year to develop a weapon before the Americans are ready to think about doing anything to redeem the president’s pledge to stop Iran.

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The problem with the willingness of so many in the West to buy into the myth that Hassan Rowhani’s election in Iran provides a meaningful opening for nuclear diplomacy isn’t so much the possibility that the U.S. will be suckered into a terrible agreement with Tehran. The Iranians have proved time and again—including during the time when it was Rowhani being the chief deceiver—that they are never going to sign any deal that will place meaningful restrictions on their ability to enrich uranium. There is even less chance that the ayatollahs will allow the West to impose a solution that will “end” Iran’s nuclear program as the president pledged to do during the foreign policy debate with Mitt Romney last fall. No matter how many concessions the United States and its European allies offer Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the answer is always going to be no to any accord.

The real problem with the idiocy being promoted by purveyors of conventional foreign policy wisdom this week is that the infatuation with Rowhani will mean the United States will play the next year of Iran policy according to Tehran’s timetable.

That’s the main advantage that Khamenei has gained by allowing a seeming opponent to assume an office that has no real power over Iran’s nuclear program, its intervention in Syria or its support for international terrorism. If President Obama is serious about waiting, as he hinted at on Charlie Rose’s show last night, to see if Rowhani’s win will portend change, that means Iran may have obtained at least another year to develop a weapon before the Americans are ready to think about doing anything to redeem the president’s pledge to stop Iran.

Last September, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu tried to wake up Obama and the rest of the world by drawing a red line across a cartoon bomb at the United Nations General Assembly to remind them of the costs of waiting until Iran had enough fuel to build a weapon. The international press mocked him, but he did put the issue on Obama’s agenda and the U.S. pledged not to let Iran run out the clock until the red line was truly crossed. That created a speeded-up timetable for American action that though amorphous in nature still made it clear that Iran’s time to make a bomb was rapidly running out. That was especially true once the latest P5+1 talks collapsed earlier this year despite the West’s offer of a new batch of concessions to Iran.

But with Rowhani, we now have a brand new timetable for Iran diplomacy that has to encourage Tehran’s embattled nuclear scientists that they have more time to keep their centrifuges spinning away than even they thought possible.

As a New York Times editorial published today helpfully points out, the first new excuse for delay is the need to wait until August when Rowhani is sworn into his new office. The Times piece, which sets new records in ingenuous belief in Rowhani’s powers, is doing nothing more than stating the new reality when it notes this means that the primary task of American diplomacy in the coming months will be to “persuade Congressional leaders and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel that it is necessary and possible to reach a credible deal with Iran.”

In other words, all efforts to ratchet up the sanctions on Iran to completely shut down their economy are now on the back burner while Obama waits for Rowhani to magically transform Iran’s policies. As for the use of force, that is, as Amos Harel writes in today’s Haaretz, completely off the table for another year at least, as Rowhani will be given leeway to prevaricate, tease and ultimately disappoint his chorus of American fans.

Given the already large stockpile of refined uranium in Iran’s possession and the nuclear test data it may still be receiving from its North Korean friends (who have already illustrated what happens when the U.S. gives diplomacy unlimited time to work when negotiating with tyrants bent on acquiring nukes), another year doesn’t just mean there is no red line for the West on Tehran’s quest. It may provide Iran with enough time to present Obama or his successor with a fait accompli that will mean it is too late to use force, let alone diplomacy or sanctions, to stop their nuclear quest.

The Rowhani timetable is a blueprint for an Iranian bomb. If the president truly wishes to keep his promises on the nuclear question, he must reject the idea that America must, as the Times seems to be indicating, start again from scratch in a diplomatic process that will end as all other attempts to talk the Iranians out of their nuclear goal have ended.

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Obama’s Second-Term Blues

According to the most recent CNN poll, President Obama’s approval rating dropped eight points over the past month (it’s down to 45 percent, his lowest in more than a year and a half). The main erosion occurred among people under 30 years of age (-17 points) and independents (-10). Mr. Obama’s approval-disapproval rating among independents is now 37/61.

Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed say they disagree with the president’s views on the size and power of the federal government. Fifty-three percent say Mr. Obama cannot manage the government effectively. And for the first time in his presidency, half of the public says they don’t believe Mr. Obama is honest and trustworthy. (The number of Americans who think he is honest has dropped nine points over the past month, to 49 percent.)

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According to the most recent CNN poll, President Obama’s approval rating dropped eight points over the past month (it’s down to 45 percent, his lowest in more than a year and a half). The main erosion occurred among people under 30 years of age (-17 points) and independents (-10). Mr. Obama’s approval-disapproval rating among independents is now 37/61.

Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed say they disagree with the president’s views on the size and power of the federal government. Fifty-three percent say Mr. Obama cannot manage the government effectively. And for the first time in his presidency, half of the public says they don’t believe Mr. Obama is honest and trustworthy. (The number of Americans who think he is honest has dropped nine points over the past month, to 49 percent.)

None of these findings is surprising; they are the result of the various scandals and controversies engulfing the administration and a second-term agenda that was dead in the water after 100 days.

The president is hardly in free-fall. But he is in an unusually weak position as he is about to enter the first summer of his second term. It’s not at all clear what large goals and achievements he’s hoping to accomplish. There is, at least for now, a feeling of drift and entropy, with the president and his administration on defense. And next year there’s a mid-term election which historically punishes the president’s party.

The multiple failures of Mr. Obama’s first term are exerting a drag on his second term. This doesn’t mean the president can’t recover. It only means it won’t be easy.

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Why Do 135 Congressmen Endorse Turkey’s Crackdown?

It’s always risky when congressmen affix their names to organizations which sound both innocuous and harmless, because they seldom are. It used to be common practice, for example, for articulate and beautiful young ladies to ask congressmen (and European Union parliamentarians) to sign petitions calling for democracy or human rights in Iran. Few congressmen realized before it was too late that the sponsor of the petition was actually the Mujahedin al-Khalq, a creepy and authoritarian cult which at the time the United States still considered to be a terrorist organization.

Now, the same issue applies in a different way to Turkey: Take, for example, the 135 members of congress who count themselves as “members of Caucus on US Turkish Relations & Turkish Americans,” better known in Congress as the Turkey Caucus. The Turkish Coalition of America explains that the Turkey Caucus “is a bi-partisan platform for members of Congress to focus on US-Turkish relations and issues that concern Turkish Americans.” Now that sounds innocent enough and, indeed, as Turkey Caucus co-chair Gerry Connolly explained at a congressional hearing several years ago examining “Turkey’s New Foreign Policy Direction,” Turkey hosts an American military base and the two countries cooperate in Afghanistan.

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It’s always risky when congressmen affix their names to organizations which sound both innocuous and harmless, because they seldom are. It used to be common practice, for example, for articulate and beautiful young ladies to ask congressmen (and European Union parliamentarians) to sign petitions calling for democracy or human rights in Iran. Few congressmen realized before it was too late that the sponsor of the petition was actually the Mujahedin al-Khalq, a creepy and authoritarian cult which at the time the United States still considered to be a terrorist organization.

Now, the same issue applies in a different way to Turkey: Take, for example, the 135 members of congress who count themselves as “members of Caucus on US Turkish Relations & Turkish Americans,” better known in Congress as the Turkey Caucus. The Turkish Coalition of America explains that the Turkey Caucus “is a bi-partisan platform for members of Congress to focus on US-Turkish relations and issues that concern Turkish Americans.” Now that sounds innocent enough and, indeed, as Turkey Caucus co-chair Gerry Connolly explained at a congressional hearing several years ago examining “Turkey’s New Foreign Policy Direction,” Turkey hosts an American military base and the two countries cooperate in Afghanistan.

The problem is this: While congressmen like Connolly may believe they are signing up to the Turkey Caucus to celebrate bilateral cooperation, the Turkish government looks at the Turkey Caucus in a very different way. Namik Tan uses the Turkey Caucus membership numbers to suggest American officials support if not endorse Turkey’s policies. That might not be a problem if Turkey’s policies included support for NATO or support for freedom of the press. Alas, however, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s current policies include arbitrary arrests, police violence, launching tear gas into hotels and consulates, attacking the free press, launching anti-Semitic diatribes, and ordering the arrest of medical personnel. Perhaps men and women like Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), John Lewis (D-GA), Virginia Foxx (R-NC), and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)—to take four members at random—truly believe their membership encourages secularism and democracy. Or, more cynically, perhaps they enjoy the wining and dining Turkish authorities arrange on trips to Istanbul or Ankara as a reward for membership.

Either way, however, the price is not worth it. The Turkish government utilizes their names and faces to imply endorsement of noxious practices which the good men and women should condemn, not excuse. The White House may be relatively silent, but if the members of the Turkey Caucus truly believe in U.S.-Turkish relations, they should suspend if not resign their membership. They might still support partnership on a case-by-case basis, but no longer should they offer blanket support to Erdoğan’s government.

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