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To Save Syria from Assad, the U.S. Must Act

As I predicted, the ISIS suicide bombing in the Turkish town of Suruc has motivated Turkey to take a much more active role in the anti-ISIS fight. Not only have Turkish aircraft been bombing ISIS (along with Kurdish) positions but Turkey is now said to have reached agreement with the U.S. on creating a 60-mile wide “safe zone” in northern Syria that would be ISIS-free. Read More

As I predicted, the ISIS suicide bombing in the Turkish town of Suruc has motivated Turkey to take a much more active role in the anti-ISIS fight. Not only have Turkish aircraft been bombing ISIS (along with Kurdish) positions but Turkey is now said to have reached agreement with the U.S. on creating a 60-mile wide “safe zone” in northern Syria that would be ISIS-free.

This is something I and many others have long advocated: the creation of “safe zones” where neither Bashar Assad’s nor ISIS’s forces could penetrate, allowing the moderate Syrian opposition (which is newly united, at least on paper) to train its fighters and to gain the ability to govern. Refugees could also flock there to be safe from attack. Such zones, which should have been set up years ago, can be created not only in northern Syrian along the Turkish border but also in southern Syria along the Jordanian border. The idea is that eventually, when Assad falls, the safe zones could be expanded to encompass the entire country, thus creating a post-Assad future that is not ruled by ISIS or the Nusra Front.

But we are a long way yet from that vision, and many questions about the emerging safe zone in northern Syria remain to be answered before it can become a reality. Two questions, in particular, loom large: Will the U.S. be willing to fight Assad as well as ISIS? And will Turkey, the U.S., or some other outside power be willing to put in ground troops to protect this liberated land?

From what I have read so far, Turkey and the U.S. are talking about using their airpower exclusively against ISIS although Turkey would like to target Assad as well. Reports also indicate that neither country is willing to put troops on the ground to protect this safe zone. They are counting on Syrian opposition fighters to do all the fighting on the ground with support from allied airpower.

If that’s the case, I have serious doubts about whether this plan will work. As the New York Times notes:

That is an ambitious military goal, because it appears to include areas of great strategic and symbolic importance to the Islamic State, and it could encompass areas that Syrian helicopters regularly bomb. If the zone goes 25 miles deep into Syria, as Turkish news outlets have reported, it could encompass the town of Dabiq, a significant place in the group’s apocalyptic theology, and Manbij, another stronghold. It could also include the Islamic State-held town of Al Bab, where barrel bombs dropped by Syrian aircraft have killed scores, including civilians, in recent weeks.

Given (a) the threat posed by Assad’s air force and (b) the weakness of the moderate Syrian opposition (the Pentagon has trained only 60 Syrian fighters in the last year), it is hard to imagine this ambitious scheme working unless Turkey and the U.S. stop Assad’s air force from flying and unless they are willing to commit some troops, at least at first, to help call in air strikes and to generally buttress the Free Syrian Army’s efforts. On the American side, this would probably require some Special Operations Forces; on the Turkish side, probably a larger commitment, perhaps supported by forces from the Arab League. Kurdish fighters, who have wrested part of northern Syria away from ISIS with the help of American air strikes, could fill the gap in the ground, but these are not exclusively Kurdish areas and Turkey is unlikely to take any actions that could create a new Kurdish state.

I think stepping up to truly protect this safe zone on the ground and from the air would be very much in Western interests and could begin to nudge Syria–the most dangerous place on earth–in the right direction. But it is unlikely that President Obama will take these steps given his extreme reluctance to put any troops in harm’s way in the Middle East or to do anything that would undermine the Assad regime, which is a close ally of America’s new de facto partner in the Middle East–the Islamic Republic of Iran.

I sincerely hope my fears are unfounded. It would be good news indeed if, after having concluded a nuclear deal with Iran, Obama were to actually take steps to try to contain non-nuclear Iranian aggression. Syria would be the natural starting point for that effort. But I am skeptical that Obama will be willing to take this leap.

More likely, he is still focused on fighting only ISIS. Indeed, a large part of the reason why American training efforts of the moderate Syrian opposition have been so ineffectual is that the U.S. has demanded that they sign pledges that they will only fight ISIS, not Assad. Few Syrians are willing to make that commitment, understandably, because Assad’s forces have killed far more people than ISIS has.

Any solution to the problem of Syria must rid that country not only of ISIS but also of Assad. Until Obama reaches that realization, it is unlikely that this safe zone scheme will be effective. Indeed, the worst possible outcome would be to declare a safe zone and then allow Assad to bomb it: that is a tragedy we must avoid.

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Things the Media Won’t Tell You About Israel

If you’ve ever wondered why so many overseas Jews view democratic Israel as irredeemably racist, consider the following story: Knesset member Robert Ilatov justifiably made headlines last Thursday by declaring that Arabs who refuse to sing the national anthem, “Hatikva,” shouldn’t be appointed as judges. But several prominent English-language Israeli news sites didn’t even bother mentioning the swift, uncompromising rejection of his view by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked; you won’t, for instance, find a word of her response in Haaretz’s report, while the left-wing +972 website dismissed it as a “weak protestation” by omitting all the most significant parts of her statement. Read More

If you’ve ever wondered why so many overseas Jews view democratic Israel as irredeemably racist, consider the following story: Knesset member Robert Ilatov justifiably made headlines last Thursday by declaring that Arabs who refuse to sing the national anthem, “Hatikva,” shouldn’t be appointed as judges. But several prominent English-language Israeli news sites didn’t even bother mentioning the swift, uncompromising rejection of his view by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked; you won’t, for instance, find a word of her response in Haaretz’s report, while the left-wing +972 website dismissed it as a “weak protestation” by omitting all the most significant parts of her statement.

Shaked’s response matters not only because of her position, but because she herself is no bleeding-heart liberal; she’s second-in-command of the religious Zionist Jewish Home party, the right flank of what the media routinely term a “hardline” government. And that’s precisely the point: While extremists always get headlines, the mainstream rejection of their views is ignored – even when that rejection is so sweeping that it encompasses the leadership of the most right-wing party in the governing center-right coalition.

Granted, Ilatov’s views can’t be dismissed as an insignificant; the opposition back-bencher made his statement right after the Knesset chose him as one of the Judicial Appointments Committee’s nine members. But surely the contrary views of the other eight members – and especially Shaked, the panel’s chairwoman – should be considered no less significant when assessing Israel’s character.

Shaked, in her response, endorsed the compromise employed by Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran during his own swearing-in ceremony: Arab judges should stand for the anthem, because state officials must respect the state’s symbols, but they shouldn’t be required to sing along if they can’t identify with lyrics that, after all, are about the Jewish yearning for Zion. “A judge needs to stand during the national anthem, but I won’t be looking to see if he is mouthing the words to Hatikva or not,” she said.

She also endorsed the importance of maintaining the judiciary’s professionalism: “A judge needs to be selected first and foremost according to skills and criteria,” she stressed. Finally, she underscored the importance of having Arab judges in the system: “The fact that we have Arab judges is an admirable thing in a country where 20 percent of the population are minorities.”

In other words, the second-in-command of one of Israel’s most right-wing parties, who also happens to be the justice minister, said exactly what she should have said regarding Arab sensitivities, Arab representation in state institutions and judicial professionalism. But liberals who get their news from Haaretz or +972 will never know it; reading those reports, a well-meaning liberal would legitimately conclude that anti-Arab extremists are running around Israel unopposed.

The same is true of another important news item this week: Two brothers who torched Jerusalem’s Jewish-Arab Hand in Hand School last year were sentenced to 24 and 30 months in jail, respectively (the sentence reflects the fact that the attack endangered no lives, since it occurred overnight). The arson made headlines worldwide as evidence of Israel’s “racism.” But how many international media outlets bothered reporting the fact that the perpetrators were caught, indicted and sentenced to jail?

This isn’t a minor detail. No country on earth has ever managed to eradicate hate crimes; thus the difference between a decent society and an intolerant one is not whether such crimes occur, but how society responds. Are the perpetrators lionized and allowed to walk free – as, for instance, Palestinian terrorists are? Or are they universally condemned, brought to trial and given heavy sentences?

Israel is in the latter category: Not only was the arson universally condemned at the time, but the perpetrators are now doing jail time. But because the initial attack made headlines overseas while the subsequent sentence was either ignored or merited at most a brief mention, the impression left is the opposite: that Israel is a place where hate crimes are tolerated.

Neither Israel nor its supporters can change the media coverage. But liberal Jews who care about Israel can and must try to educate their fellows about the distorted image this coverage conveys. Because criticizing Israel for its minority of extremists while never even acknowledging the majority’s efforts to fight them isn’t “tough love”; it’s sheer dishonesty.

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Hillary Clinton’s Worst Fears Are Coming True

The national political press is fixated on the chaotic and contentious Republican presidential primary, and not without good reason. But in devoting so much focus to the race for the GOP nomination, the Democratic side of the aisle has been getting short shrift. Over the course of the summer, a left-wing revolt against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has evolved into an insurgency, and her campaign is gradually imploding, albeit at a cosmically languid pace. But that tempo is set to accelerate. The tipping point may have been reached on Thursday when one of the presumptive Democratic nominee’s worst fears was realized.  Read More

The national political press is fixated on the chaotic and contentious Republican presidential primary, and not without good reason. But in devoting so much focus to the race for the GOP nomination, the Democratic side of the aisle has been getting short shrift. Over the course of the summer, a left-wing revolt against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has evolved into an insurgency, and her campaign is gradually imploding, albeit at a cosmically languid pace. But that tempo is set to accelerate. The tipping point may have been reached on Thursday when one of the presumptive Democratic nominee’s worst fears was realized. 

Hillary Clinton’s campaign team was surely reveling in the national media’s distracted focus on the messy Republican presidential primary late Thursday night when they got the news. Immediately, her campaign team sprang into action and began the familiar process of muddying the waters and misdirecting reporters with a magician’s mastery. The New York Times had revealed that two independent inspectors general requested that the Justice Department open a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton for possibly jeopardizing national security by handling classified information on her personal “homebrew” email server. By morning, however, the Times story had been edited several times. Struck from the account was the contention that Clinton had “mishandled sensitive government information” and in its place was the claim that “information was mishandled” by… someone. The lead reporter on that story confessed that the alterations were made at the Clinton campaign’s “reasonable” request. The Associated Press dutifully followed the Times lead and noted that the IG’s referrals do not suggest wrongdoing by Clinton personally – merely her subordinates at the State Department.

Several hours later, the Justice Department indicated that the referrals they received were not criminal, leading to pushback from New York Times reporters who claimed that their sources were solid. Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the Inspector General’s office is standing by the contention that classified information that was designated as such was sent to Clinton’s private email address. Something bizarre is happening.

All that is clear at the moment is that a classic bit of Clintonian obfuscation skillfully executed by Hillary’s rapid response shop and her campaign’s press secretary, Nick Merrill, is afoot. Reporters and commentators immediately began litigating the story as reported in the Times and not the revelation that Clinton’s email practices are now a criminal matter. The story isn’t the story; the reporters who exposed the story are the story. It’s only a matter of time before Republicans “pounce” and probably “overplay their hand.”

The matter of whether Clinton personally behaved criminally or whether her subordinates did so without malice aforethought is, quite intentionally, beside the point. At the heart of this revelation is that Clinton’s unique emailing practices, which she said she followed out of deference to her own privileged sense of “convenience,” possibly jeopardized American national security. Reporters who suggest cheekily that there is perhaps a way in which Clinton might be absolved of personal fault for this lapse of judgment are being disingenuous. “There is no classified material,” Clinton averred unsolicited at her March press conference in the United Nations. The use of the present tense form of the verb “to be” is entirely intentional because, in all likelihood, there “was” classified material in her insufficiently secured private email account — at least, there was before she deleted over half those emails as House investigators were preparing to subpoena them.

Any reporter that has dealt with the State Department’s FOIA office knows that Foggy Bottom has a habit of over-classifying information as a means of evading transparency laws. Of the emails that Clinton handed over to the State Department for review and eventual release to the public, only a fraction have been disclosed. Of those, 25 were redacted because they contained information deemed classified after the fact. Even some congressional Democrats have acknowledged the obvious. “All of her official emails should be released to the American people,” said Illinois Representative and U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Duckworth. “There are going to be some that are classified and those that are classified — then show those to a bipartisan group of members of Congress.”

As for national security, the Secretary of State’s emails were likely the subject of intense interest by foreign actors and her improperly secured email account probably provided anyone with the capabilities a way to penetrate American diplomatic information security. Despite being discouraged from doing so, Clinton used at least one of her personal mobile devices while abroad to access emails on her private server, creating plenty of opportunities for foreign agents to compromise her account.

This is no small matter. On the heels of Edward Snowden’s revelations, American informational security has been harmed like never before. “The experts warned that the entire U.S. national security clearance system could be compromised,” read a chilling Fox News report published on Friday in the wake of the hacking of the Office of Personnel Management, “that future senior government leaders and advisors could be targeted even before taking office, and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of government officials might successfully be blackmailed, bribed or otherwise manipulated in the future into handing over still more sensitive information.” How can someone who, through carelessness or indifference, imperiled American national security serve as the nation’s commander-in-chief?

There are many reasons to suspect that the IG’s recommendation will come to nothing. Even if DOJ attorneys want to pursue this investigation, they will come under considerable political pressure from the White House to let it go. This is perhaps worse for Clinton. In that case, the allegations against her and her staff will never be resolved, and exculpation will forever be beyond her reach.

But even if the DOJ does take up the IG’s recommendation and investigates Clinton’s behavior criminally, the former secretary of state’s image would remain tarnished regardless of that investigation’s outcome. Clinton’s team is quick to brush off the significance of her collapsing polling and particularly those findings that indicate the voters no longer trust her. They contend that former President Bill Clinton was twice elected with sagging trust ratings, but Hillary Clinton is no Bill. She struggles in public settings, eschews retail politics, rarely projects imperturbability or self-assuredness, and she is viewed by many as manipulative and scheming. The recommendation that Clinton’s behavior be criminally investigated will only reinforce and cement that impression among voters.

Even despite the media’s myopic focus on the GOP primary race, Hillary Clinton’s standing in the polls continues to erode. Despite her low-profile campaign, voters are paying attention to Clinton’s conduct, and they do not like what they see. For the likely Democratic nominee, this latest development is a disaster.

 

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What the Syrian Weapons Charade Says About the Iran Deal

The Wall Street Journal has an eye-opening expose today about how Syria failed to comply with its obligations under the agreement with the United States to get rid of all of its chemical weapons. Reporters David Entous and Naftali Bendavid write, “One year after the West celebrated the removal of Syria’s arsenal as a foreign-policy success, U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the regime didn’t give up all of the chemical weapons it was supposed to.” Indeed, Bashar Assad continues to drop chemical weapons, specifically chlorine bombs. Read More

The Wall Street Journal has an eye-opening expose today about how Syria failed to comply with its obligations under the agreement with the United States to get rid of all of its chemical weapons. Reporters David Entous and Naftali Bendavid write, “One year after the West celebrated the removal of Syria’s arsenal as a foreign-policy success, U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the regime didn’t give up all of the chemical weapons it was supposed to.” Indeed, Bashar Assad continues to drop chemical weapons, specifically chlorine bombs.

How did this happen? The reasons are instructive in light of the administration’s argument that Iran will be forced to comply with the nuclear deal. The article notes:

The Syrians laid out the ground rules. Inspectors could visit only sites Syria had declared, and only with 48-hour notice. Anything else was off-limits, unless the regime extended an invitation.

“We had no choice but to cooperate with them,” said Mr. Cairns [the leader of the UN inspection team]. “The huge specter of security would have hampered us had we gone in there very aggressively or tried to do things unilaterally.”

The U.S. and other powers had the right to demand access to undeclared sites if they had evidence they were part of the chemical-weapons program. But that right was never exercised, in part, inspectors and Western officials say, because their governments didn’t want a standoff with the regime.

This is how inspections operate in reality — and it’s not the way that Secretary of State John Kerry claims in touting the effectiveness of sanctions. In reality, inspectors are at the mercy of their hosts who, after all, control the country and can use force if necessary to prevent the inspectors from going where they are not wanted. Advocates of the Iran deal suggest that it includes a way to force inspections of undeclared nuclear sites — but that will take a minimum of 24 days and probably longer. That’s a lot longer than the 48-hour inspections that the Syrians allowed and even those weren’t enough.

What happens if the Iranians block the inspectors? Advocates of the deal like to pretend this would lead to “snapback” sanctions. In the real world, however, neither the inspectors nor the U.S. government is going to blow up the accord — which is what would happen if sanctions were re-imposed — over what may or may not be a violation on the part of the Iranians. Both the inspectors and the U.S. government are far more likely to overlook supposedly minor violations, or to allow the Iranians to “rectify” them ex post facto, while telling themselves that it’s for the greater good because being overly confrontational will destroy the entire agreement.

The Syrian precedent clearly shows how Iran, Assad’s sponsor, can cheat on its arms control obligations. And even if it’s caught, as Syria has been caught, what will happen? The Syrian example suggests the answer is: Nothing. Even though the Obama administration is well aware that Assad has not gotten rid of all of his chemical weapons and that indeed he continues to use them, there have been no repercussions for Syria. Does anyone imagine that the U.S. will be any quicker to confront Iran, a far more powerful regime than Assad’s, and one that will get stronger still once the bans on conventional weapons and missile sales are lifted?

 

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The Devil Isn’t in the Details of the Iran Deal

Today, Secretary of State John Kerry went to a Senate hearing room on Thursday to put forward talking points about the Iran nuclear deal that are by now as familiar as the condescending sneer he employs against anyone who questions his positions. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew also recited their scripted defense of the agreement. The other participants in the ritual were just as predictable as Senate Republicans tore into the trio of secretaries over the terms of the pact while Democrats did their best to lob softball questions in order to provide cover to the administration. But, according to the New York Times, only one side in this standoff is doing any serious thinking about the implications of approving the deal. The headline of the Times article (labeled “news analysis,” but which belonged on the paper’s op-ed page rather than in the news section) on the hearing was “Republicans Have Minds Made Up as Debate Begins on Iran Nuclear Deal.” There is some truth to that assertion but the same could be said of most of the Democrats in attendance. But by attempting to portray the Republicans as mindless partisans obsessed with block the administration, the Times missed the point of the entire debate. It’s not just that everyone already understands the Iran deal details and their weakness. Rather, it’s that the implications of this push for what amounts to a new détente with the Islamist regime is just as important as anything that will be revealed in classified committee sessions.

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Today, Secretary of State John Kerry went to a Senate hearing room on Thursday to put forward talking points about the Iran nuclear deal that are by now as familiar as the condescending sneer he employs against anyone who questions his positions. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew also recited their scripted defense of the agreement. The other participants in the ritual were just as predictable as Senate Republicans tore into the trio of secretaries over the terms of the pact while Democrats did their best to lob softball questions in order to provide cover to the administration. But, according to the New York Times, only one side in this standoff is doing any serious thinking about the implications of approving the deal. The headline of the Times article (labeled “news analysis,” but which belonged on the paper’s op-ed page rather than in the news section) on the hearing was “Republicans Have Minds Made Up as Debate Begins on Iran Nuclear Deal.” There is some truth to that assertion but the same could be said of most of the Democrats in attendance. But by attempting to portray the Republicans as mindless partisans obsessed with block the administration, the Times missed the point of the entire debate. It’s not just that everyone already understands the Iran deal details and their weakness. Rather, it’s that the implications of this push for what amounts to a new détente with the Islamist regime is just as important as anything that will be revealed in classified committee sessions.

The Times portrayed the Republicans as not listening to the secretaries and not even willing to hear more about the security implications of their efforts in private:

While Mr. Corker, who promised a considered assessment of the agreement, may have seemed close to an endgame during a hearing on Capitol Hill, the vast majority of Republicans appear to have made up their minds before a single classified briefing, hearing or visit with administration officials.

Their view seems born of genuine distaste for the deal’s details, inherent distrust of President Obama, intense loyalty to Israel and an expansive view of the role that sanctions have played beyond preventing Iran’s nuclear abilities.

Accusing the critics of the deal of lack interest in its details is disingenuous. The basic framework of the agreement is no secret and its provisions have been a matter of vigorous public debate for months. The problem for the administration and its apologists is not that opponents aren’t listening but that they are rightly dismissing the spin about them coming from both the president and his team that span the spectrum from mere distortions to outright lies. The misrepresentation of the provisions about inspections that the president promised would be intrusive and comprehensive now requires Kerry and Moniz to claim that a process that gives Iran more than three weeks notice of an inspection is sufficient. They similarly ignore the implications of allowing Iran to continue its nuclear research with advanced equipment (while, as Corker rightly pointed out, discarding outdated centrifuges allowing the administration to portray the discards as concessions).

But in one sense the Times is right to assert that Republican support for the deal did not hinge on the fine print of the agreement. The devil is not in its details but in the nature of a pact whose core is a desire on the part of the administration to embrace Iran and bring it back into the community of nations from its current state of isolation.

The administration defends the deal as the only alternative to war. That is a false choice that attempts to obfuscate the fact that it was President Obama who discarded the political and economic leverage the West held over Iran prior to the start of the string of concessions he made to the ayatollahs over the course of the last two years of negotiations. But even if we leave this deceptive argument aside, the real problem with their approach is that by solely focusing on the details of a nuclear agreement, the administration chose to ignore the real reason why Iran should not be allowed such capabilities.

If, as President Obama seems to believe, Iran’s government is capable not only of rational analysis but of transforming itself into a reasonable and responsible international actor, its possession of a nuclear program would not be so troubling. True, the U.S. wishes to limit the spread of nuclear weapons but the club of countries with a bomb is already not so small. One more in and of itself would not be a threat to world peace.

But allowing an Islamist theocratic tyranny that is the world’s leading state sponsor of terror with hopes of achieving regional hegemony and pledged to the destruction of Israel to have a nuclear program is a threat. Giving its nuclear infrastructure western approval and a path to an eventual bomb is a danger to the entire region as well as the West. Handing it a massive cash bonus in the form of relaxed sanctions will enhance its ability to foment terrorism and spread violence through its auxiliaries and allies.

Opponents of the deal rightly decry this embrace of Iran not just because the inspections are insufficiently rigorous, the nuclear provisions weak and will eventually expire giving the Islamist regime a clear path to a bomb. They also oppose it because despite their occasional attempts to pose as tough-minded in their approach to Iran, the basic premise of the deal is President Obama’s quest for the regime to “get right with the world.”

In order to believe that is possible, we must forget everything we know about the nature of a regime that is inherently aggressive and motivated by an extreme religious ideology that sees moderate Arabs, the West, the United States and Israel as enemies to be destroyed, not partners for peace and cooperation.

Iran won the lenient terms of the deal by being tough in the negotiations and convincing weak-willed interlocutors such as Obama and Kerry that they would never be moved by Western pressure or threats. Critics of the deal view it with disdain because they correctly perceive its premise to be the hope of an entente with Iran, not a treaty aimed at limiting its power. Seen from that perspective the details of the deal are not only unpersuasive, they are beside the point despite the effort of the Times and other pro-Obama media cheerleaders to depict the GOP as knee-jerk naysayers. That is why sensible Republicans and Democrats will reject Kerry’s arrogant lobbying efforts and vote a deal rooted in appeasement down.

 

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The Donald is Still Hillary’s Best Friend

Hillary Clinton has long had good reason to like Donald Trump. The real estate mogul-turned-reality TV star-turned-Republican presidential candidate was a major donor to her campaigns for the Senate. He also gave $100,000 to the thinly-disguised political slush fund that is the Clinton Family Foundation, giving him the unique status as both a potential Hillary opponent and an enabler of the Clinton Cash scandals. But the former First Lady has even more immediate reasons to be grateful to The Donald. Trump’s domination of the news cycle the last few weeks has not only sucked all the oxygen out of the room for other Republican candidates. The relentless coverage of his every move and outrageous statement has also had the effect of obscuring the slow motion implosion of her presidential campaign. Had he stayed on the sidelines to kibitz as he has in previous election cycles, it might have been Hillary’s horrific poll numbers and her increasing weakness against an implausible Bernie Sanders candidacy might be leading the cable news shows. Instead, we’re treated to daily analyses of Trump putdowns of fellow Republicans and coverage of his appearances as if they were global summits. If this keeps up — and at this point, there’s no reason to think it won’t — Hillary may be able to ride out the summer and the fall without too much attention being paid to her troubles.

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Hillary Clinton has long had good reason to like Donald Trump. The real estate mogul-turned-reality TV star-turned-Republican presidential candidate was a major donor to her campaigns for the Senate. He also gave $100,000 to the thinly-disguised political slush fund that is the Clinton Family Foundation, giving him the unique status as both a potential Hillary opponent and an enabler of the Clinton Cash scandals. But the former First Lady has even more immediate reasons to be grateful to The Donald. Trump’s domination of the news cycle the last few weeks has not only sucked all the oxygen out of the room for other Republican candidates. The relentless coverage of his every move and outrageous statement has also had the effect of obscuring the slow motion implosion of her presidential campaign. Had he stayed on the sidelines to kibitz as he has in previous election cycles, it might have been Hillary’s horrific poll numbers and her increasing weakness against an implausible Bernie Sanders candidacy might be leading the cable news shows. Instead, we’re treated to daily analyses of Trump putdowns of fellow Republicans and coverage of his appearances as if they were global summits. If this keeps up — and at this point, there’s no reason to think it won’t — Hillary may be able to ride out the summer and the fall without too much attention being paid to her troubles.

There’s no point denying that Trump is the most entertaining presidential candidate we’ve had in a long time even if he’s also the least thoughtful and most vulgar. Every Trump event, such as the chaotic dog-and-pony show he put on at the border in Laredo, Texas yesterday, is transformed by the sheer unpredictability of his behavior into a global news event covered obsessively by the cable news networks. The same goes for every interview as pundits and journalists wait for Trump to insult one of his GOP rivals or to hint, as he has this week to the horror of his party, that he might run as a third-party candidate next year if the Republican National Committee offends him with “unfair” treatment.

For the moment, all this has the effect of leaving all the more credible would-be GOP opponents of Hillary flailing in frustration at Trump’s antics, insults and ability to rise in the polls. The more they hit back the more Trump likes it since it feeds his image as a “fighter” who is out to knock off a failed political establishment. But the cooler heads among them have to know that it can’t last. Sooner or later, Trump is going to start being scrutinized the way presidential candidates are examined and his record of support for liberals and liberal causes will start to take the air out of his balloon. Trump’s negatives are too high to allow him to be a legitimate threat for the nomination let alone the general election. Republicans should also be confident that his buffoonish persona is also bound to trip him up enough times to ultimately undermine any notion that he ride the support of a populist surge and anger about illegal immigration to the nomination.

But the help all of this is giving to Hillary is priceless. Trumpmania has enabled her to fly beneath the radar even when she weighs in on hot button issues. Her defense of Planned Parenthood in the face of their infant body parts sale scandal may impress the liberal base of the Democratic Party, but it also exposes her to attack. Yet no one is talking about Hillary allowing her to get away with continuing to refuse to talk to the press.

More important, the Trump factor has also almost silenced discussion of Hillary’s toxic poll numbers in battleground states against possible GOP opponents as well as the terrible results she gets on whether people trust her. In a normal political year, this would become the number one story lending further momentum to the surprisingly effective challenge to her coronation by Senator Bernie Sanders or even tempting other more plausible candidates like Senator Elizabeth Warren or Vice President Joe Biden into the race.

Clinton also has to hope that Trump is so enjoying the ride he’s on that he won’t want to get off even when he fails to win primaries next winter and spring. It’s easy to imagine Trump manufacturing some feud with the RNC and attempting a third-party run next summer and fall. Of course, that would be the ultimate favor for Hillary and the Democrats since it would more or less guarantee her election as president no matter how weak a candidate she proved to be.

The extension of the Trump campaign well into 2016 is the ultimate nightmare for Republicans, but there is little they can do about it other than to try and ignore him and hope, as they should, that the overwhelming majority of voters reject his brand of faux conservatism. In the meantime, he will continue to give aid and comfort to the Clinton campaign that is far more valuable than his past financial support for their fake charity or her Senate campaigns.

 

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To Get History Right, Democrats Would Erase It

More than a month after the coldblooded murder of African-American churchgoers in South Carolina by an overt racist prompted an intense and grief-stricken national discussion about racism in the United States, it is now possible to apply some perspective to the events that followed. Across the South, in public and private spaces, the Confederate battle flag was furled for the last time. Few responsible commentators saw this as anything less than a public good. Some even suggested that further steps were necessary; monuments to Confederate leaders should be torn down, roads and bridges named for Confederate generals retitled, and municipalities with Confederate roots renamed. What followed this catharsis was, however, a full-scale national moral panic. Perhaps the most ludicrous example of this overcompensation came when television networks cancelled re-airings of the Dukes of Hazard and the owner of the program’s original prop car, the General Lee, revealed that the vehicle’s famous rebel flag roof art was to be painted over. It was then that some cautiously began to wonder if the well-meaning decision to remove this historical artifact with all its negative baggage had gone too far. There was clearly no limiting principle to this national effort to address historical grievances. Where would it all end? Today, it is clear that, for some, the fight to make history conform to today’s moral standards has only just begun.  Read More

More than a month after the coldblooded murder of African-American churchgoers in South Carolina by an overt racist prompted an intense and grief-stricken national discussion about racism in the United States, it is now possible to apply some perspective to the events that followed. Across the South, in public and private spaces, the Confederate battle flag was furled for the last time. Few responsible commentators saw this as anything less than a public good. Some even suggested that further steps were necessary; monuments to Confederate leaders should be torn down, roads and bridges named for Confederate generals retitled, and municipalities with Confederate roots renamed. What followed this catharsis was, however, a full-scale national moral panic. Perhaps the most ludicrous example of this overcompensation came when television networks cancelled re-airings of the Dukes of Hazard and the owner of the program’s original prop car, the General Lee, revealed that the vehicle’s famous rebel flag roof art was to be painted over. It was then that some cautiously began to wonder if the well-meaning decision to remove this historical artifact with all its negative baggage had gone too far. There was clearly no limiting principle to this national effort to address historical grievances. Where would it all end? Today, it is clear that, for some, the fight to make history conform to today’s moral standards has only just begun. 

The impulse to sanitize American history to force it to conform to modern moral benchmarks has taken a bizarre twist in Connecticut. There, the state’s Democratic Party has, under pressure from the NAACP, dropped the names of both Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson from its annual fundraising dinner. The two towering figures, both fathers of the modern Democratic Party, have been labeled persona non grata because of their ties to American slavery.

“Democrats cited Jefferson and Jackson’s ownership of slaves as a key factor in the decision, as well as Jackson’s role in the removal of Native Americans from the southeastern U.S. in what was known as the Trail of Tears,” the CT Post reported. This is surely just the first such effort; it is likely to be replicated by Democratic Parties across the country and perhaps nationally.

It is not a commentary on the value of their presidencies (like all commanders-in-chief, both of their presidential legacies are checkered) to note that, as members of the nation’s founding generations, to criticize them for violating of today’s moral standards is deeply unfair and revisionist. Yes, both men owned African slaves. Slavery and anti-black prejudice is fundamentally immoral, as the United States has acknowledged over the course of a bloody civil war, the passage of two constitutional amendments affirming equal rights, Reconstruction, desegregation, and the present debate over the dark symbolism of that period in history presided over by a black president. America struggles to atone for its original sin, and it probably always will. To attack the legacies of Jefferson and Jackson is, however, misguided. Removing their names from the pantheon of American icons is not the pursuit of historical accuracy; it is a declaration of historical ignorance.

For modern Democrats to abandon Jefferson, among the most literate and forward-thinking men to ever occupy the office of president, over slavery of all things is a bizarre exercise in self-flagellation. Jefferson was a populist, a pacifist, and one of the most successful advocates for the natural rights of all men to have ever lived. The figure that first wrote, “all men are created equal,” and then through the sheer force of principle and political acumen managed to convince his colleagues in the Continental Congress to unanimously ratify it, changed the world forever. The first anti-slave law in the United States, the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which paved the way for the admittance of the Upper Midwest into the Union but outlawed slave labor in those territories, was based on a law drafted by Jefferson in 1784. Jefferson always considered the practice of slavery an “abominable crime,” and, as governor of Virginia, successfully outlawed the importation human chattel from abroad. In an 1806 message to Congress, then President Jefferson called for the importation of slaves to be outlawed permanently in the whole of the United States. He wrote that slavery was an institution that “the morality, the reputation, and the best of our country have long been eager to proscribe.” This is not a man who had much affinity for human bondage, and he spent a substantial amount of energy delegitimizing that custom.

Andrew Jackson was, from a conservative perspective, one of the worst presidents to ever occupy the White House. Jackson’s unique fear of centralized power (both public and private) gave meaning to the very definition of activist government. For 150 years, Democrats admiringly dubbed it Jacksonian democracy. But while the hero of New Orleans is properly reviled by the left today for the brutal treatment of Native Americans in the South and in the Western territories into which Americans were expanding, liberals fail to appreciate his mistrust of corporate interests, his fear of central banks, and his radical expansion of voting rights. What Jackson called the era of the “common man,” his critics derided as “the reign of King Mob.” Jackson, too, owned slaves. And while he was certainly less egalitarian than his Democratic-Republican predecessor, Jackson’s commitment to populist democracy set a tone that generations of his Democratic successors strove to emulate.

Again, where is the limiting principle? Will Washington D.C. or Washington state be forced to consider a change of name because the founder of this country, a man who could have followed in Caesar’s footsteps but chose those of Cincinnatus instead, owned slaves? Are we to qualify the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, because he was by any reasonable modern standard a white supremacist? Will the bronze statues of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt be melted down because he approved of the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II?

Democrats are not merely purging their own history from the records. A Democratic administration is busily whitewashing the nation’s currency of at least one founder in order to comport with the evolving standards of conduct demanded by the social justice doyens on the nation’s college campuses. Following a brief, exclusively liberal campaign to banish Jackson’s portrait from the $20 note, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew decided to compromise. Instead, Alexander Hamilton, the father of the modern banking system, will be removed from the $10 bill – his likeness to be consigned only to the museums. And who will replace him? Lew revealed that, to satisfy insatiable demagogues who populate liberal blogs with content, it would be a woman. What woman? Who knows? The Department of the Treasury is taking your suggestions now. The only prerequisite is that they have the necessary chromosomal makeup in order to serve as some modest compensation for the ills endured by earlier generations of women.

Those who engage in this form whitewashing do not revere history; they despise it. Imposing the standards of their generation upon the long dead is the ultimate expression of condescension. It represents the rejection of context and is a contemptuous effort to shun understanding and tolerance – an exercise the left is forever lecturing others to perform. It’s a failure of intellectual curiosity; a denial of intellectualism itself. This is an Orwellian labor to enforce conformity; behaviors demanded of us by the parlor totalitarians who dare not tolerate divergence, much less dissent. Those societies that have tried to cleanse their histories in order to appeal to current tastes are not models worthy of emulation. Nations that re-write their history books soon turn their attentions to eliminating more contemporary sources of frustration. This is radical revisionism, and it must be discredited. If it is not stopped, it may soon become unstoppable.

 

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When Populism Masquerades As Conservatism

The Donald Trump candidacy has revealed something important about a certain slice of the conservative world. Many right-wing personalities – including Fox’s Eric Bolling and Steve Doocy, radio talk show hosts Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh and the writer/commentator Ann Coulter – have come to the defense of Donald Trump when he’s been criticized by the “establishment,” in part because he’s been criticized by the “establishment,” the theory being the enemy of my enemy is my friend. (Forget for now that many people who claim to be “anti-establishment” in fact personify the establishment by any reasonable definition.)

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The Donald Trump candidacy has revealed something important about a certain slice of the conservative world. Many right-wing personalities – including Fox’s Eric Bolling and Steve Doocy, radio talk show hosts Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh and the writer/commentator Ann Coulter – have come to the defense of Donald Trump when he’s been criticized by the “establishment,” in part because he’s been criticized by the “establishment,” the theory being the enemy of my enemy is my friend. (Forget for now that many people who claim to be “anti-establishment” in fact personify the establishment by any reasonable definition.)

There have been notable exceptions, but even in the context of Trump’s comments on John McCain, the criticisms of Trump have been extremely muted. There were even some attempts to justify what Trump said. According to Trump’s defenders, his words were taken out of context. They praised Trump for not apologizing. It was Republican “midgets” who were attacking him. The reason Trump is being condemned is because he’s politically incorrect, it’s been said; he won’t play by the rules others do. The real offense was less what Trump said about McCain than the piling on by critics of the television host and hotelier.

“Donald Trump is like a Navy SEAL,” according to Fox’s Steve Doocy. “He never backs down when he’s in a fight.”

To be clear, not everyone I have mentioned supports Trump for president. But they all see things in Trump they admire; they are very reluctant to attack him, and they constantly give him the benefit of the doubt and praise what they consider to be his virtues. They repeatedly point to Trump as someone from whom other conservatives can learn, even someone they should emulate.

Now consider this: Most of the people I’ve mentioned have been critical, and often harshly critical, of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, on the grounds that he’s not a “true” conservative. Some have even argued that Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush are “two peas in the same pod.”

This is a rather bizarre charge. You don’t have to support Jeb Bush for president in 2016 to acknowledge he was among the most successful and conservative governors in several generations. (Jeb Bush’s record was, as George Will has pointed out, “measurably more conservative” than that of Ronald Reagan during his two-term governorship of California. I’ve documented Governor Bush’s conservative achievements here.)

Now let’s turn to Trump’s record, which I’ve laid out before, and is essential to re-state for the purposes of my argument. Mr. Trump has supported massive tax increases on the wealthy, a Canadian-style single-payer health care system and is a fierce protectionist. He once declared himself “strongly pro-choice” and favored drug legalization. Earlier this year he accused Republicans who want to reform entitlement programs – the essential task for those who favor limited government — of “attacking” Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Barack Obama couldn’t have stated it better.

That’s not all. For most of the last decade, Trump was a registered Democrat. As of 2011, he had given a majority of his $1.3 million political contributions to Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, and Chuck Schumer.

Even on immigration, the issue that has won over the hearts of many on the right, Trump has been erratic. In 2012, he criticized Mitt Romney’s “crazy policy of self-deportation, which was maniacal. It sounded as bad as it was, and he lost all of the Latino vote … He lost the Asian vote. He lost everybody who is inspired to come into this country.”

Trump also said this:

For people that have been here for years that have been hard-workers, have good jobs, they’re supporting their family — it’s very, very tough to just say, ”By the way, 22 years, you have to leave. Get out.” … I have to tell you on a human basis, how do you throw somebody out that’s lived in this country for 20 years.

And in 2010, this:

You have American interests hiring [illegal immigrants], absolutely. And many cases, they’re great workers. The biggest problem is you have great people come in from Mexico working crops and cutting lawns that I’m not sure a lot of Americans are going to take those jobs. That’s the dichotomy. That’s the problem. You have a lot of great people coming in doing a lot of work. And I’m not so sure that a lot of other people are doing that work so it’s a very tough problem.

These are the kind of statements that, if said today, would cause Ms. Coulter to shake with rage. Yet the author of ¡Adios, America! The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country Into a Third World Hellhole is among Trump’s strongest supporters.

Nobody in the GOP field has amassed anything like the liberal record of Trump. It makes Susan Collins’s political stands over the years look like Barry Goldwater’s. Yet some of those who fashion themselves as “constitutional conservatives,” principled and uncompromising, the heirs of Reagan, the keepers of the flame, have found themselves far more favorable to Trump than to Jeb Bush — a man who, unlike Trump, has sterling conservative achievements to his name. (What he and other conservatives like Marco Rubio don’t have is the serrated rhetoric of Trump.)

What this demonstrates – and why the whole controversy about Donald Trump is about more than simply Donald Trump – is that some of those who claim to speak for conservatism may not be quite as interested in conservative policies and conservative philosophy as they profess. At least, it’s become subordinate to other considerations. I say that because if policies and philosophy were as important as they claim, it seems reasonable to conclude that these same people would lacerate Trump (as they lacerate so many others they believe are insufficiently pure) rather than embrace and defend him.

There’s no rational reason self-described conservatives who accuse Jeb Bush of being a RINO, a “neo-statist,” and a Hillary Clinton clone would treat Donald Trump with respect and deference and find reasons to defend and praise him. Something quite odd is clearly going on here.

Mr. Trump is given a special absolution – amnesty, if you will – from his past/current liberal deeds and words. And that absolution, that amnesty, is granted by virtue of Trump’s style. He embodies what some on the right apparently believe politics needs more of. And that’s the problem for many of us. Trump embodies crudity and insults, anger and attacks, banalities and “barstool eruptions,” in the withering words of Charles Krauthammer. Yet it turns out that those qualities make a man like Trump, who has held left-wing positions, a star with some on the right. Being perceived as an enemy of the much-loathed “establishment” is a ticket to stardom. Nothing else really matters, or matters nearly as much.

Which leads me to my final point: What appears to be happening is that some of those who claim to be champions of conservatism are actually champions of populism. They are not the same thing, philosophically or temperamentally. (Populism has been defined as “an ideology which pits a virtuous and homogeneous people against a set of elites and dangerous ‘others’ who are together depicted as depriving (or attempting to deprive) the sovereign people of their rights, values, prosperity, identity and voice.” It has different manifestations, some more responsible and some less, but resentment is often a key ingredient in populism. It’s also a movement that’s been historically susceptible to demagogues, a concern held by philosophers from Plato and Aristotle to the American founders.)

There is room for populism within conservatism — it can be a “cathartic response to serious problems,” in the words of George Will — but it should not define conservatism. Yet increasing, in some quarters, it is; and the sympathy and support some on the right are giving to Donald Trump is clear evidence of this.

This distinction between conservatism and populism goes a long way toward explaining why different people on the right, who might otherwise agree on a fair number of things, react in fundamentally different ways to Donald Trump. And it’s why the Trump candidacy may well catalyze a broader, clarifying debate about what the true definition of conservatism is. For many of us who are conservative, Donald Trump not only doesn’t define it; he’s antithetical to it.

 

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The Unavoidable Costs of Inaction in the Middle East

Sometimes the facts speak for themselves. This is one of those times. Read More

Sometimes the facts speak for themselves. This is one of those times.
From the Los Angeles Times:

Islamic State militants’ attempts to inspire Americans to launch attacks at home pose a bigger threat to the U.S. than Al Qaeda, the head of the FBI said Wednesday.

From The Hill:

The Army’s top officer said Tuesday it was “frustrating” to watch the gains U.S. troops helped achieve in Iraq unravel with the entrance of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and that the chaos “might have been prevented.”

“It’s frustrating to watch it,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told Fox News in an exclusive interview weeks away from his retirement after 39 years in the Army.

“I go back to the work we did in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 and we got it to a place that was really good. Violence was low, the economy was growing, politics looked like it was heading in the right direction,” he said.

Odierno, who commanded at various levels in Iraq during the war, said “I think it would have been good for us to stay,” when asked by Fox News if it was a mistake to pull out.

There you have it: The biggest terrorist threat we face was created, in no small measure, by President Obama’s pullout from Iraq, which was hardly necessary; all indications were that if the president truly wanted to reach a deal to keep U.S. troops, he would have been able to do so. That, combined with Obama’s failure to intervene early on in Syria’s civil war, created the conditions under Islamic State has become such a potent threat.

That is worth keeping in mind the next time that Obama slams the Iraq War or claims that his political adversaries are warmongers. (Which, by my watch, should occur in the next five minutes.)

Yes, it’s true that sometimes getting involved in a war is a mistake, and (based on what we now know in hindsight) the Iraq War was one of those times. It was true, too, that the war was terribly mismanaged until the surge (which Obama opposed), resulting in much needless death and destruction. But what Obama’s tenure in office has shown is that not getting involved in a war — or ending our involvement in a war prematurely — also carries terrible costs. We are seeing those costs now with the rise of ISIS, and also the rise of Iran. Heaven knows what will happen in Afghanistan if the president carries out his pledge to withdraw entirely before he leaves office.

Getting involved in the Middle East carries costs, true. But what we are now seeing is the heavy cost of nonintervention, and it is Pollyannaish to imagine that the price will be paid exclusively by Iraqis or Syrians, or even by the Israelis and Turks, the French and British. Americans, too, will pay the price for the president’s tragically misguided foreign policy which is inadvertently aiding the rise of our enemies

 

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Israel United Against Iran Deal, So Should Those Who Claim to Be Its Friends

This morning during a Senate hearing on the Iran nuclear deal, Secretary of State John Kerry tried to pour cold water on the notion that friends of Israel are obligated to oppose the pact. Citing a Washington Post op-ed titled “How the Iran deal is good for Israel, according to Israelis who know what they’re talking about,” Kerry treated the piece that cites the opinions of a few retired officials that agree with him as proof that his claim that the result of his two years of negotiating with Iran would benefit the Jewish state as well as the United States. A similar piece in the Forward by J.J. Goldberg quotes some of the same figures. Taken together, they seem to make a strong case that the pro-Israel community ought to either sit out the Iran deal fight in Congress or even support the agreement. But the two articles leave out a couple of important facts about Israeli opinion about the Iran deal. One is that most of those quoted are either disgruntled former officials who hold a grudge against Prime Minister Netanyahu for not keeping them in office, or ideological opponents of the man who has won three consecutive elections. The other is that while Netanyahu’s political foes in the Knesset are as sharply critical of the prime minister as the Obama administration, they have joined him in forming a united front against the Iran deal as a deadly threat to the country’s future. That’s a point that any American that claims to be a friend of Israel needs to consider before they consider backing the administration’s push for détente with the Islamist regime.

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This morning during a Senate hearing on the Iran nuclear deal, Secretary of State John Kerry tried to pour cold water on the notion that friends of Israel are obligated to oppose the pact. Citing a Washington Post op-ed titled “How the Iran deal is good for Israel, according to Israelis who know what they’re talking about,” Kerry treated the piece that cites the opinions of a few retired officials that agree with him as proof that his claim that the result of his two years of negotiating with Iran would benefit the Jewish state as well as the United States. A similar piece in the Forward by J.J. Goldberg quotes some of the same figures. Taken together, they seem to make a strong case that the pro-Israel community ought to either sit out the Iran deal fight in Congress or even support the agreement. But the two articles leave out a couple of important facts about Israeli opinion about the Iran deal. One is that most of those quoted are either disgruntled former officials who hold a grudge against Prime Minister Netanyahu for not keeping them in office, or ideological opponents of the man who has won three consecutive elections. The other is that while Netanyahu’s political foes in the Knesset are as sharply critical of the prime minister as the Obama administration, they have joined him in forming a united front against the Iran deal as a deadly threat to the country’s future. That’s a point that any American that claims to be a friend of Israel needs to consider before they consider backing the administration’s push for détente with the Islamist regime.

As Jeffrey Goldberg, who has been the administration’s unofficial mouthpiece on Israel issues and their dutiful amanuensis when it comes to smears of Netanyahu, noted in The Atlantic last week, the man that Washington desperately wanted to win the Knesset election in March has turned on Obama. Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog was the darling of the White House earlier this year as the administration moved heaven and Earth in a failed attempt to influence the Israeli electorate to reject Netanyahu’s bid for a third straight term as prime minister. As Goldberg wrote, Herzog’s line on the Iran negotiations last winter was that he trusted Obama to get a “good deal” with Tehran. But rather than continuing his effort to cozy up to the administration, Herzog now completely agrees with Netanyahu’s evaluation of the deal. As Goldberg wrote:

In a telephone call with me late last night, Herzog’s message was very different. The deal just finalized in Vienna, he said, “will unleash a lion from the cage, it will have a direct influence over the balance of power in our region, it’s going to affect our borders, and it will affect the safety of my children.”

Iran, he said, is an “empire of evil and hate that spreads terror across the region,” adding that, under the terms of the deal, Iran “will become a nuclear-threshold state in a decade or so.” Iran will take its post-sanctions windfall, he said, and use the funds to supply more rockets to Hezbollah in Lebanon, more ammunition to Hamas in Gaza, and “generally increase the worst type of activities that they’ve been doing.”

The other major figure in the Israeli opposition, Yair Lapid, the leader of the Yesh Atid Party has also chimed in with harsh criticism of the agreement with Iran. In fact, the administration has achieved something that is generally considered impossible: uniting the Zionist parties of the Knesset from right to left. Netanyahu, Lapid, and Herzog and the leaders of the other parties normally can’t agree on anything. But Obama and Kerry have brought them together to denounce a deal that all know makes their region more dangerous while also presenting an existential threat to Israel’s future.

As I noted earlier this week, there is nothing in the deal that will prevent Iran from using the vast windfall it gets from sanctions relief to help fund its terrorist auxiliaries and allies that face off against Israel. Both Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza can expect to get a share of the flood of cash that President Obama is allowing Tehran. Kerry’s claims that such transfers won’t be allowed are absurd since even National Security Director Rice conceded, it will be their money.

Nor is anyone of stature in Israel’s political establishment on either side of the left-right divide buying the idea that the loose restrictions that will soon expire can do anything to stop an Iranian bomb. Like American critics of the Iran deal, they consider the administration’s arguments that there are no alternatives to their appeasement policy short of war to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Having discarded all the enormous political and economic leverage it held over Iran in 2013, it is disingenuous, if not completely dishonest of Obama and Kerry to say that theirs is the best option. Having effectively spiked a the chances that tougher sanctions would bring Iran to its knees when they began bowing to Iranian dictates in the talks, their current claim that opponents are warmongers has no credibility.

Some Israelis, Lapid in particular, do criticize Netanyahu for his strident opposition to Obama’s Iran strategy over the last two years. Seeking to make political hay out of this catastrophe for Israel, they argue that if Netanyahu had been nicer to Obama or at least not criticized him publicly, the U.S. might not have signed such a horrible deal.

This is nonsense. Netanyahu may have made some tactical mistakes in the last few months, in particular his decision to address Congress in March. He gave a great speech but it did nothing to stop Obama and even served the administration’s interests by diverting attention away from their policies and allowing Democrats to rally ’round their “insulted” president. But President Obama has been determined to create a new détente with the Islamist regime since the day he entered office. In doing so, he has discarded every other U.S. interest in the talks including the need to stop Iranian support for terrorism, its anti-Semitism, its determination to destroy Israel, its quest for regional hegemony and its ballistic missile program, in order to get a deal at any price. Netanyahu had no chance to alter Obama’s course.

But Israel’s rare political unity on the issue should influence Americans who care about the Jewish state. If Netanyahu, Herzog and Lapid all agree that the deal is terrible, no member of the Congress or the Senate who wishes to present themselves as friends of Israel should be allowed to get away with claiming that he knows better than these leaders, no matter how many disgruntled retired Israeli spooks can be assembled to contradict them.

Efforts by the administration’s left-wing allies to undermine the unity of the pro-Israel community should be dismissed out of hand. The deal is a clear and present danger to Israel’s future and should be treated as a litmus test of backing for Israel as well as reliability on U.S. security. All members of the House and Senate — especially those, like Senator Chuck Schumer that have staked their reputations as being guardians of Israel’s security — should be put on notice that they must choose between loyalty to Obama and what is right.

 

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When ‘He Fights’ Matters More Than Whether He Wins

Among the many endlessly repeated refrains from those mesmerized by the solipsistic bombast sufficing for political rhetoric from the soapbox agitator presently sucking all the oxygen out of the 2016 presidential race is that “he fights.” The unfounded implication in this refrain is that his competition is composed of weak-kneed capitulators. What this expression of support does not take into account, however, are victories, losses, or the strategic draws. The fight is, in and of itself, an end. The same might be said for those members of the Greek public that elevated the far-left leader of the Syriza Party, Alexis Tsipras, to prime minister. He and the party he led were “fighters” who would take the Greek public’s dissatisfaction with the terms of their endless bailouts from their European creditors to Brussels. But the Greek leader’s fecklessness did little to improve his country’s position. For the Greeks, however, the fight is apparently more important than any victory. Read More

Among the many endlessly repeated refrains from those mesmerized by the solipsistic bombast sufficing for political rhetoric from the soapbox agitator presently sucking all the oxygen out of the 2016 presidential race is that “he fights.” The unfounded implication in this refrain is that his competition is composed of weak-kneed capitulators. What this expression of support does not take into account, however, are victories, losses, or the strategic draws. The fight is, in and of itself, an end. The same might be said for those members of the Greek public that elevated the far-left leader of the Syriza Party, Alexis Tsipras, to prime minister. He and the party he led were “fighters” who would take the Greek public’s dissatisfaction with the terms of their endless bailouts from their European creditors to Brussels. But the Greek leader’s fecklessness did little to improve his country’s position. For the Greeks, however, the fight is apparently more important than any victory.

Alexis Tsipras promised the Greek public the world. During the campaign, he pledged to end the austerity measures imposed on them from far-flung European capitals. He insisted that he would restore the “dignity” that had been stolen from the Greeks by a Europe that underwrote a lavish lifestyle the modest Greek economy could not sustain on its own. But the stubborn laws of economics did not bend to Tispras’ rhetoric. Politics is the art of the possible, and Tispras’ government overestimated its ability to expand the realm of feasible outcomes. The promises he made sounded lovely and the roaring crowds, fed up with the stark and unpleasant realities of indebtedness, were eager for a fairytale. Syriza spun the yarn.

When he failed to deliver his people to this Promised Land, Tispras returned to the Greek people with a convenient excuse: His best intentions had been thwarted by nasty foreign elements. Only the righteous fury of the Greek public would dissuade Europe from further humiliating them further. So Tsipras and his government abandoned their responsibilities as the leaders of a republican government who are often tasked with choosing the better of two bad options. Instead, they abdicated their roles as national leaders and put a referendum to the people. Would the Greek public accept the terms of another bailout which included further austerity measures or would they demand that the laws of economics be repealed? The outcome was never truly in doubt.

“[W]e have just witnessed Greece stand up to a truly vile campaign of bullying and intimidation,” New York Times columnist Paul Krugman averred, “an attempt to scare the Greek public, not just into accepting creditor demands, but into getting rid of their government.” Krugman wasn’t the only liberal celebrating Greece’s definitive “no” vote. The eccentric academic-turned-Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, promised the Greek public that a stunned and broken Europe would amend the terms of new lending that would include debt forgiveness within 48 hours of the referendum. Instead, within 24 hours, he resigned.

In the wake of the Greek referendum, Tsipras seemed to expect that he would stride victorious into the halls of power in Brussels and encounter only chastened bureaucrats cowering before a mighty display of Greek sovereignty. He was wrong. Instead, the terms Europe was prepared to offer Greece in order to ensure that their banks would reopen and it might stay within the European Union were harsher than those the Greek public had just rejected. Tsipras was compelled not only to return home to now sell those pitiless bailout terms, but he was compelled to eject from his party’s governing coalition the idealists who were foolish enough to take Tsipras at his word. In the midst of jubilant celebration in the wake of the Greek referendum, Tsipras claimed that “continued kowtowing” to Europe was over, but it had only just begun.

Bearing the brunt of Syriza’s broken promises, it is reasonable to expect that the Greek public would be irate. They had been misled by political figures with only a tenuous grasp on policy and an unduly inflated sense of their own abilities. That is not the case. “If snap elections were to happen now, 42.5% of Greeks would vote for the Syriza party, nearly double the level of support for the main center-right opposition party, New Democracy, at 21.5%, according to a survey published over the weekend by polling company Palmos Analysis,” the Wall Street Journal reported this week. “Syriza’s support remains high despite the party split, with about a quarter of the party voting against the premier in parliament last week.”

For some – the disaffected, the despondent, the disgusted – the fight is more important than the victory. For some, even quixotic battles are worth fighting, if only to register their dissatisfaction and make known the extent of their cynicism and estrangement. It’s a lesson that some in the United States would do well to internalize. What some might see as a strain of nihilism, an urge to storm the Bastille and tear it down to its foundations, those in the crowd would view as their only remaining option. Even though they know in their hearts that it is ill-fated and desperate, it’s worth the effort. That kind of terrifying hopelessness is dangerous. For the Greeks, Syriza is the physical representation of their desperation. Americans might recognize this as a familiar phenomenon.

 

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The War Crimes Industry

In an earlier post, I flagged my Mosaic Magazine essay on the film Censored Voices, an Israeli documentary that purports to expose Israeli war crimes during the Six-Day War. The filmmakers claim that Israel’s military censor, who cut 70 percent of the original material, had subjected the testimony of soldiers, published in 1968, to “brutal” censorship. Censored Voices, we are told, restores those “silenced” voices. In my essay, I questioned whether there had been any censorship of this magnitude, and asked whether the cases highlighted in the film were true, representative, or added to our understanding of the war.
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In an earlier post, I flagged my Mosaic Magazine essay on the film Censored Voices, an Israeli documentary that purports to expose Israeli war crimes during the Six-Day War. The filmmakers claim that Israel’s military censor, who cut 70 percent of the original material, had subjected the testimony of soldiers, published in 1968, to “brutal” censorship. Censored Voices, we are told, restores those “silenced” voices. In my essay, I questioned whether there had been any censorship of this magnitude, and asked whether the cases highlighted in the film were true, representative, or added to our understanding of the war.

There have been three responses to the essay:

• Fellow blogger Max Boot provides some fascinating insights into why certain conflicts invite charges of war crimes and others don’t—regardless of the facts.

• Journalist and author Matti Friedman analyzes what’s wrong with the flourishing Israeli genre of what he calls “moral striptease.” Among many nuggets: “The fact that the director of Censored Voices has earned complimentary coverage in Israel’s biggest women’s weekly and in El Al’s in-flight magazine hardly suggests a society ‘crushing dissent.’ In fact, it suggests a society where dissent is celebrated even in the heart of the mainstream.”

• Asa Kasher, philosopher and author of the Code of Ethics of the Israel Defense Forces, argues that you can’t judge the justice of a war by how soldiers wage it, and if you make vague charges of war crimes against Israel, you’re making it impossible for the IDF to investigate and ameliorate. That’s immoral.

My own summation is coming up in a week. In the meantime, take in these interesting responses.

 

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Deception or Truth About Planned Parenthood Body Parts Sale?

It took a week, but the left is finally finding its voice about the shocking videos that portray Planned Parenthood officials bargaining for the sale of body parts from aborted fetuses. The initial response from liberals to the controversy was shocked silence that bespoke a hope that an apology from Planned Parenthood would suffice to answer critics. But more videos are becoming available showing other such conversations that betrayed a cynical and mercenary attitude toward the treatment of these tiny bodies that have been shattered and “crushed” by the procedures that they profit from. Thus, Congressional Democrats and liberal organs such as the New York Times are now speaking out both in defense of the organization and the practice of selling the refuse of abortion. The counterattack against the group’s critics attempts to cast the debate as one in which the right to abortion or even research with fetal tissue is being called into question. But the Planned Parenthood videos are shocking because they reveal the barbarism of late-term abortion procedures used on infants that could possibly survive outside the womb and the callous way in which abortion mills profit from them. The issue here isn’t the future of Roe v. Wade or medical research, but the reality of a practice that rightly strikes most Americans as equivalent to infanticide.

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It took a week, but the left is finally finding its voice about the shocking videos that portray Planned Parenthood officials bargaining for the sale of body parts from aborted fetuses. The initial response from liberals to the controversy was shocked silence that bespoke a hope that an apology from Planned Parenthood would suffice to answer critics. But more videos are becoming available showing other such conversations that betrayed a cynical and mercenary attitude toward the treatment of these tiny bodies that have been shattered and “crushed” by the procedures that they profit from. Thus, Congressional Democrats and liberal organs such as the New York Times are now speaking out both in defense of the organization and the practice of selling the refuse of abortion. The counterattack against the group’s critics attempts to cast the debate as one in which the right to abortion or even research with fetal tissue is being called into question. But the Planned Parenthood videos are shocking because they reveal the barbarism of late-term abortion procedures used on infants that could possibly survive outside the womb and the callous way in which abortion mills profit from them. The issue here isn’t the future of Roe v. Wade or medical research, but the reality of a practice that rightly strikes most Americans as equivalent to infanticide.

The Times claims the videos are the product of a “campaign of deception” directed at Planned Parenthood and that the edited versions of the videos initially released distort its position. However, such umbrage about the tactics of those trying to monitor an organization that receives vast amounts of taxpayer dollars is entirely hypocritical. As liberal columnist Kirsten Powers noted in USA Today, no one on the left thought there was anything wrong with someone secretly taping the embarrassing private talk by Mitt Romney in which he spoke of “47 percent” of the public being bought by the Democrats. The Times had no problems with the means by which the tape was produced or the fact that the damning quote was taken out of context. The same standard should apply to Planned Parenthood officials that spoke on tape about their “less crunchy” ways of killing the infants whose body parts they were hawking.

Nor should we be diverted by the Times or Planned Parenthood’s Congressional defenders attempt to claim critics of the group want to ban all medical research with fetal tissue. No one wants to ban research but it is hardly surprising that the videos provoked outrage because what they reveal is that an organization that claims to be about women’s health is actually in the business of mass harvesting human organs. That is a point that isn’t refuted by claims in the unedited versions of the videos that the group only seeks to get its “expenses” back from the sales.

What Planned Parenthood’s apologists don’t understand is that the issue here isn’t deception but morality. The group’s Deborah Nucatolla, its senior director of medical research, was caught on tape saying that it could produce more saleable body parts by performing more late-term abortions. If that is indeed what they have been doing, and there is no reason to believe that this is not unusual, then it is clear that Planned Parenthood is engaged in a practice that is deliberately seeking to promote abortions under circumstances that are morally dubious because of the survivability of the fetus and which have nothing to do with the health of the mother.

While most Americans still support keeping abortions during the first trimester legal, the outrage about the tapes worries the Times and the abortion industry precisely because it focuses attention on an aspect of the issue on which the vast majority of the public is not on their side. Late term abortion is rightly opposed because, in an era of ultrasounds and medical advances that make it possible for many infants that have been in the womb for more than 20 weeks to survive, the practice is morally indefensible. And, if most Americans think killing such infants is horrific, how much more despicable is a taxpayer-funded group that sells the body parts of these babies?

The problem here isn’t whether knowledge about the way Planned Parenthood thinks and operates helps those who would like to ban all abortions. The real issue is whether we have become a culture that is indifferent to immoral medical practices aimed at producing body parts for sale. Defense of the practice isn’t so much a matter of abortion rights as a willful effort to prevent us from even considering the moral dimensions of the issue. That those who believe an unrestricted right to abortion under any circumstances is the only principle worth defending are ready to defend such gruesome practices is deeply troubling. No matter where you stand on the question of legal abortion, there are some things that no decent society should tolerate. Congress would do well to investigate this matter and defund Planned Parenthood.

 

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Sanctuary Cities Show Why Immigration Won’t Help Dems in 2016

This week the Senate held a hearing that highlighted the crimes committed by illegal immigrants that had avoided deportation because officials in self-declared “sanctuary cities” refused to hand them over or notify federal officials of their presence. The father of Kathryn Steinle, a young San Francisco woman who was murdered by an illegal immigrant who had been freed by city officials complying with its sanctuary rules, asked senators to support a bill defunding those municipalities that refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities. Yet what was interesting about the hearing is not so much the slim chances of the bill becoming law. Rather, it was the way Democrats and the liberal media did their best to ignore the issue. Listening to activists that view the focus on sanctuary cities as a thinly veiled effort to demonize immigrants, the political left is still convinced that the issue not only works to their advantage but also will help ensure victory in 2016. But their tone-deaf response to grieving parents like Jim Steinle betrays a flaw in their political strategy. If the debate shifts from foolish talk about “self-deportation” to reasonable efforts to enforce the law, immigration stops being about respecting Hispanic voters and starts becoming a liability for a party that is all in on amnesty for illegals.

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This week the Senate held a hearing that highlighted the crimes committed by illegal immigrants that had avoided deportation because officials in self-declared “sanctuary cities” refused to hand them over or notify federal officials of their presence. The father of Kathryn Steinle, a young San Francisco woman who was murdered by an illegal immigrant who had been freed by city officials complying with its sanctuary rules, asked senators to support a bill defunding those municipalities that refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities. Yet what was interesting about the hearing is not so much the slim chances of the bill becoming law. Rather, it was the way Democrats and the liberal media did their best to ignore the issue. Listening to activists that view the focus on sanctuary cities as a thinly veiled effort to demonize immigrants, the political left is still convinced that the issue not only works to their advantage but also will help ensure victory in 2016. But their tone-deaf response to grieving parents like Jim Steinle betrays a flaw in their political strategy. If the debate shifts from foolish talk about “self-deportation” to reasonable efforts to enforce the law, immigration stops being about respecting Hispanic voters and starts becoming a liability for a party that is all in on amnesty for illegals.

Most Americans are sympathetic to immigrants and rightly despise nativist rhetoric. To the extent that Republicans become identified with anti-immigrant attitudes, it will not only hurt their ability to win the votes of Hispanics but also alienate many other voters. But the Steinle murder and similar crimes that were highlighted in the Senate hearing shifts the conversation away from prejudice and instead illustrates the problem of a policy stance that treats the law as a detail to be flouted at will.

Some Democrats grasp the inherent danger that sanctuary cities pose to their party. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who helped make San Francisco a sanctuary city during her term as mayor back in the 1980s, has put forward her own proposal on the issue. Her bill would not penalize cities with that designation but still would force them to cooperate with federal authorities. Yet even that seemingly anodyne proposal earned her furious denunciations from activist groups who oppose what they say is its “criminalization of immigrants.” But while the left profits from sympathetic illegals such as the so-called Dreamers who were brought here by their parents, the willingness to extend blanket amnesty even to lawbreakers reveals the danger for Democrats.

The problem is that if they are so in thrall to pro-illegal immigrants that they are prepared to defend the indefensible in the form of a sanctuary city policy that lets murderers walk, they will find themselves on the wrong side of a highly emotional issue. As much as responsible observers have denounced Donald Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric about Mexicans who come here illegally, it would be foolish for members of either party to assume that there is no cost to amnesty policies that, like sanctuary cities regulations, treats the law as something to be flouted with impunity. As I noted earlier in the month, Hillary Clinton’s open support for sanctuary cities may yet haunt her in 2016. Her assumption that there are no votes to be lost in the center on this issue may yet prove a colossal mistake.

Republicans still need to be careful on this issue. To the extent to which Donald Trump uses his celebrity to position himself as the loudest voice on the right about the issue, as he did when he announced his presidential candidacy with remarks about most Mexican illegals being rapists and drug dealers, they will find themselves marginalized. But if, as party leaders fervently hope, Trump is but a bad memory for the GOP next year, the ability of immigrant groups to force Democrats to stick with them on outrageous stands on sanctuary cities may prove a far greater problem for them than the reality star is for the Republicans.

 

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EU Should Be Pushed on Treatment of ‘Occupied Territories’

Responding to today’s Times of Israel interview with Fatou Bensouda, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, legal expert Eugene Kontorovich tweeted, “you got to ask #Bensaouda questions & didnt ask about an inquiry into settlements in Cypru[s]?” But Bensouda could actually offer a reasonable response to this challenge about double standards. The people who couldn’t – and who should therefore be hounded about it at every conceivable opportunity – are senior European Union officials who insist that any facilitation of Israeli activity in the “occupied West Bank” is illegal, yet happily facilitate Turkish activity in occupied Northern Cyprus, Moroccan activity in occupied Western Sahara, Chinese activity in occupied Tibet, and much more. Read More

Responding to today’s Times of Israel interview with Fatou Bensouda, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, legal expert Eugene Kontorovich tweeted, “you got to ask #Bensaouda questions & didnt ask about an inquiry into settlements in Cypru[s]?” But Bensouda could actually offer a reasonable response to this challenge about double standards. The people who couldn’t – and who should therefore be hounded about it at every conceivable opportunity – are senior European Union officials who insist that any facilitation of Israeli activity in the “occupied West Bank” is illegal, yet happily facilitate Turkish activity in occupied Northern Cyprus, Moroccan activity in occupied Western Sahara, Chinese activity in occupied Tibet, and much more.

Just today, Reuters revealed that an influential European think tank is urging the EU to go beyond its current drive to label Israeli settlement products and impose numerous additional sanctions, from restricting interaction between European banks and Israeli banks that do business in the settlements (i.e. all of them) to refusing to recognize degrees from Israeli educational institutions in the West Bank. The European Council of Foreign Relations is technically an independent organization, but, as Reuters correctly noted, its “proposals frequently inform EU policy-making.” In 2013, the council proposed five different measures against Israeli activity in the West Bank; two years later, three of the five have been largely adopted, either by the EU itself or by individual member states: excluding settlement produce from EU-Israel trade agreements, severing contact with Ariel University (which is barred from the EU’s Horizon 2020 research program) and advising European companies against doing business in the settlements.

But as Kontorovich has pointed out repeatedly, the EU has no qualms about facilitating activity in other territories that it deems occupied. For instance, the EU has an entire program to direct funding to Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus; inter alia, the program finances infrastructure projects, scholarships for students and grants to businesses. And lest one think this is equivalent to EU projects to help Palestinians, think again: Turkish settlers, who constitute anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of the population (depending on whose estimates you believe), are eligible; nor is the program barred from funding projects that directly or indirectly benefit these settlers. That’s in sharp contrast to the West Bank, where European countries refuse to fund any project that might benefit Israeli settlers, even if it benefits the Palestinians far more.

Similarly, Kontorovich noted, the EU reached an agreement with Morocco in which it actually pays Morocco for access to fisheries in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara. In short, the EU is paying the occupier for the right to deplete the occupied territory’s natural resources.

And, of course, numerous European companies and organizations do business in such territories; from French conglomerates like Total and Michelin to British universities.

Nor can the EU argue that Palestinians are unique in objecting to such activity. Indeed, the PLO’s Western Saharan counterpart, the Frente Polisario, is currently suing in the Court of Justice of the European Union over the Morocco fisheries agreement, yet the EU is vigorously defending the deal.

Moreover, Israel has a far stronger legal claim to the West Bank than do any of the “occupiers” the EU has no problem doing business with. The League of Nations awarded this land to a “Jewish national home,” and that international mandate was preserved by the UN Charter’s Article 80; the territory had no other recognized sovereign when Israel captured it from an illegal occupier (Jordan) in a defensive war; and UN Security Council Resolution 242 explicitly reaffirmed Israel’s right to keep at least part of the captured territory. Thus if the EU were going to discriminate among “occupied territories,” it should by rights discriminate in Israel’s favor rather than against it.

Bensouda could reasonably respond that a prosecutor has no business commenting on hypotheticals; she can only address actual cases that arrive on her doorstep. But the EU can’t use the excuse that the issue is hypothetical; it’s already neck-deep in discriminatory treatment.

This issue should, therefore, be raised with every EU official at every possible opportunity – by Israeli officials, journalists, and American Jewish leaders. It might not influence EU policy, but at least it would lay bare to the world what actually lies behind it. There’s a name for treating Jews differently than all other peoples. It’s called anti-Semitism.

 

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Hillary Clinton May Have to Scorch the Earth to Win the White House

Polls at this point in the presidential race do not mean a thing. That is, of course, except when they do. The latest Quinnipiac University poll of three swing states – Virginia, Iowa, and Colorado – is one such poll. In all three states, the poll shows that Clinton’s favorability ratings have plummeted, voters no longer trust her, and, against three of the GOP’s top-tier candidates, she is losing. No, polls at this stage of the race are not predictive, but they do set expectations and they focus the minds of the donor class who don’t want to throw good money after bad. If this survey is a portent of things to come, it foreshadows a general election campaign that will make the president’s brutal, no-holds-barred 2012 reelection effort appear the height of cordiality by comparison.  Read More

Polls at this point in the presidential race do not mean a thing. That is, of course, except when they do. The latest Quinnipiac University poll of three swing states – Virginia, Iowa, and Colorado – is one such poll. In all three states, the poll shows that Clinton’s favorability ratings have plummeted, voters no longer trust her, and, against three of the GOP’s top-tier candidates, she is losing. No, polls at this stage of the race are not predictive, but they do set expectations and they focus the minds of the donor class who don’t want to throw good money after bad. If this survey is a portent of things to come, it foreshadows a general election campaign that will make the president’s brutal, no-holds-barred 2012 reelection effort appear the height of cordiality by comparison. 

It’s not the head-to-head matchups in Quinnipiac’s latest survey that should trouble Democrats – it’s the rapid deterioration of Clinton’s image among voters. Even in the state that proved definitively for the left that demography is destiny, Virginia, majorities have an unfavorable opinion of Hillary Clinton. Substantial majorities told pollsters they do not trust the prohibitive Democratic presidential nominee. But the worst numbers, the one that is surely prompting bouts of hushed panic among Democratic operatives, were the responses generated when voters were asked if Clinton “cares about the needs and problems of people like you.” Among swing-state voters in Iowa, Virginia, and Colorado, solid majorities believed that Clinton did not care about them. By contrast, the 2012 exit polls revealed that Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama on every issue with the exception of the intangible matter of caring more about the little guy. Obama beat Romney on that issue by an astounding 63-point margin, and he rode that perceived empathy all the way into another four-year term in the White House.

Hillary Clinton has been a prominent figure in American politics for a quarter-century. She is already, perhaps unalterably, defined in the minds of voters. The Republican candidates, meanwhile, are not. Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter observed that Clinton and her fellow Democrats would do all within their power over the course of the nearly yearlong presidential campaign to define the nominee in negative terms. The natural headwinds confronting Democrats in their effort to secure a third consecutive term in the White House will ensure that the process of “defining” the GOP nominee is a pitiless one. But those natural headwinds are compounded by the fact that Hillary Clinton is not the political talent that Obama was.

It’s a bit trite, but it’s worth considering the substantial “coolness” deficit that Democrats are about to face. After almost eight years of branding itself as a vibrant, youthful institution whose leader was as apt to be seen in the Oval Office as he was on the set of a late-night comedy program, Democrats are about to hemorrhage some of that accumulated hipness. The tortured effort by some young progressives in the media to craft a trendy brand around the octogenarian Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg exposes the terrifying shallowness of the left’s bench of fashionable political figures. Democrats who watched a recent video released by Hillary Clinton, in which the candidate hawked her campaign’s branded “chillery” beer cozy and declared that she was “just chilling” herself, must have cringed; an android in a Philip K. Dick novel struggling to mimic human emotion could display more charisma and sincerity. Like the 82-year-old “Notorious R.B.G.,” Clinton will require a transparently fabricated campaign to be perceived as current and something that appeals to a younger generation. Among Democrats with ample national name recognition, only Joe Biden effortlessly projects the kind of approachability and nonchalance that drew young voters to Barack Obama, and he is not in the race. Yet.

If Clinton sacrifices even a modest amount of support among young voters, that must be made up on other fronts. The demographic perhaps most amenable to Clinton’s overtures are women, and the former secretary of state has already ramped up the gender-centric attacks on her adversaries. Speaking to a group of Kentucky voters, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently observed that Clinton pitch relies extensively on the candidate’s gender and has focused conspicuously on women’s issues. “You may recall my election last year,” McConnell said of his vanquished opponent, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, “the gender card alone is not enough.” Clinton’s team responded by playing the gender card with even more reckless abandon.

“There is a gender card being played in this campaign,” Clinton wrote on Facebook. “It’s played every time Republicans vote against giving women equal pay, deny families access to affordable child care or family leave, refuse to let women make decisions about their health or have access to free contraception.” Her team followed up with a web-based advertisement featuring McConnell’s remarks and scolding several members of the GOP’s 2016 field for supporting measures Clinton’s campaign dubbed “anti-women.”

The other pillar of Barack Obama’s coalition that Clinton must ensure remains intact if she is to win in 2016 are the minority voters who turned out in substantial numbers to ensure the nation’s first African-American president won two terms in the White House. The time will come when the Clinton campaign must turn the Hispanic community against the Republican nominee – a substantial task if the GOP nominates Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio – but, for now, the former secretary of state is focused on her support among African-American Democrats.

In June, Clinton called voter identification laws and efforts to curtail early voting to within two weeks of Election Day “a sweeping effort to disempower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people and young people from one end of our country to the other.” She went further by contending that Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, and Rick Perry were “deliberately trying to stop” black voters from exercising the franchise. “Note the language here,” Fox News analyst Chris Stirewalt observed. “It’s not a misguided effort with an unfortunate result, it is a deliberate effort to prevent minorities from voting. That’s not just racist, that’s evil.”

This is a theme that you can expect the likely Democratic nominee to pound repeatedly over the course of her campaign in the uphill effort to ensure African-American turnout in 2016 matches the rates set in 2008 and 2012.

The stakes are high in 2016 – more so for Democrats than they were in 2012, when Barack Obama’s allies went so far as to accuse Mitt Romney of complicity in negligent homicide. We may come to look back on that campaign as an epoch of civility. If the GOP nominates a competent candidate, and they have a variety from which to choose, Hillary Clinton and her allies will have to scorch the earth in order to win. The torches are already lit.

 

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Obama Lobby Smear in Iran Deal Debate Cannot Go Unanswered

The debate over the Iran nuclear deal signed last week is just beginning but the willingness of the administration to smear its opponents is already clear. Both in his speech yesterday to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Pittsburgh and then later on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, President Obama cast the divide on the issue as one between warmongers and peacemakers, linking opponents to the Iraq War. Having won the presidency twice by running against George W. Bush, it is hardly surprising that he would return to that familiar theme. Nor is it any shock that he would, as he has throughout a period in which he systematically abandoned his past stands on what a deal with Iran should look like, claimed that the only alternative to surrendering to Tehran’s demands was war. But there was one line in his softball interview with Stewart that should have set off alarm bells throughout the pro-Israel community, including among those who are loyal Democrats and inclined to support the White House on this and any other issue. By urging citizens to contact Congress to counteract the influence of “the money, the lobbyists,” Obama was smearing the pro-Israel community and AIPAC as seeking to involve the country in a war where “they would not going to be making sacrifices.” In doing so, he conjured up memories of both President George H.W. Bush’s controversial stand against AIPAC during the 1991 debate about loan guarantees to Israel but also writer Pat Buchanan’s claim that Jews were pushing for wars in which they wouldn’t fight.

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The debate over the Iran nuclear deal signed last week is just beginning but the willingness of the administration to smear its opponents is already clear. Both in his speech yesterday to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Pittsburgh and then later on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, President Obama cast the divide on the issue as one between warmongers and peacemakers, linking opponents to the Iraq War. Having won the presidency twice by running against George W. Bush, it is hardly surprising that he would return to that familiar theme. Nor is it any shock that he would, as he has throughout a period in which he systematically abandoned his past stands on what a deal with Iran should look like, claimed that the only alternative to surrendering to Tehran’s demands was war. But there was one line in his softball interview with Stewart that should have set off alarm bells throughout the pro-Israel community, including among those who are loyal Democrats and inclined to support the White House on this and any other issue. By urging citizens to contact Congress to counteract the influence of “the money, the lobbyists,” Obama was smearing the pro-Israel community and AIPAC as seeking to involve the country in a war where “they would not going to be making sacrifices.” In doing so, he conjured up memories of both President George H.W. Bush’s controversial stand against AIPAC during the 1991 debate about loan guarantees to Israel but also writer Pat Buchanan’s claim that Jews were pushing for wars in which they wouldn’t fight.

Obama’s claims that the only alternative to his appeasement of Iran would be war have always been a false choice. Having cornered Iran into negotiations after being forced by Congress to accept harsher sanctions than he wanted, Obama immediately discarded all the West’s political and military leverage by agreeing to Iranian demands about allowing them to enrich uranium and keep their nuclear infrastructure in secret talks in 2013. This came only a year after he had pledged in his foreign policy debate with Mitt Romney that any Iran deal would require them to give up their nuclear program. Over the course of the next two years, he systematically abandoned nearly every previous U.S. on the issue and eventually agreed to a pact that expired after ten years and even guaranteed the Iranians the right to continue nuclear research and with an inspections program that gave them 24 days notice. Having undermined the international consensus in favor of isolating Iran, he now accuses critics of wanting war. But all they have been asking for is the sort of tough diplomacy that would have avoided the kind of proliferation that his deal makes inevitable.

The analogies with Iraq and the invocation of the name of former Vice President Dick Cheney is a punch line, not a coherent argument. There is no comparison between a willingness to allow Iran to become a threshold nuclear state and to enrich the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism and the decision to topple Saddam Hussein. But it is an attempt to signal to Democrats that Obama sees Iran appeasement as a core partisan issue on which no dissent should be tolerated. And that is the context in which Obama’s cracks about money and lobbyists and who makes the sacrifices should be viewed.

In 1991, when the elder President Bush was seeking to undermine support for Israel, he let loose with a memorable rant to the White House press corps about being “one lonely little guy” fighting a big powerful AIPAC. That was a gross distortion of reality, especially since AIPAC’s power could not be compared to the influence of the oil industry and the pro-Arab lobby with which the president was apparently more comfortable. Pro-Israel and Jewish groups that saw him as invoking arguments that smacked of traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes rightly excoriated Bush. Buchanan was similarly criticized for the same kind of sleight of hand when he falsely tried to cast the argument about the first Gulf War as one in which Jews were pushing other Americans to fight a war they would sit out.

Though the case for the Iran deal is weak, it is one on which a civil debate is possible. But the administration’s line that opponents want war is not only misleading, it is an attempt to avoid rational debate and to demonize the president’s critics. Yet the fact that Obama is now using the same sort of language that once was clearly labeled as out of bounds when they were employed by Republicans is not only reprehensible. It is a challenge to pro-Israel and Jewish Democrats that they cannot ignore.

Jewish Republicans and other pro-Israel conservatives never forgave George H.W. Bush for his slur about AIPAC and he paid a heavy political price for it in his 1992 re-election bid. It is too late to hold Obama accountable in a similar manner but that does not relieve Jewish liberals and Democrats from warning Obama to stand down on his attempt to employ the same kinds of smears against supporters of Israel on the Iran deal. While Obama’s goal is to make Iran a partisan issue on which pro-Israel Democrats will choose loyalty to the president over principle, it does not excuse members of his party from their obligation to stand up against these sort of vile tactics. If they fail to speak out against the Obama lobby smear, they will not merely be acquiescing amid the marginalization of the pro-Israel community, they will be giving a seal of approval to the sort of behavior that they were quick to denounce when Republicans were the offenders.

 

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The Second-Tier GOP Debate May Be the One to Watch

Fox News delivered yet another blow to the presidential hopes of those Republican candidates polling relatively poorly ahead of the first televised presidential debate. Those six candidates who do not make the top 10 in the most recent national surveys will fail to qualify for the prime time debate. They will have their own separate and decidedly unequal contest. On Tuesday, Fox News revealed that the debate of second-tier Republican presidential prospects would occur in the late afternoon on Thursday, August 6, giving more viewers a chance to watch, but it would also be truncated from 90 to just 60 minutes. But fret not, also-rans; yours could end up being the debate to watch. Read More

Fox News delivered yet another blow to the presidential hopes of those Republican candidates polling relatively poorly ahead of the first televised presidential debate. Those six candidates who do not make the top 10 in the most recent national surveys will fail to qualify for the prime time debate. They will have their own separate and decidedly unequal contest. On Tuesday, Fox News revealed that the debate of second-tier Republican presidential prospects would occur in the late afternoon on Thursday, August 6, giving more viewers a chance to watch, but it would also be truncated from 90 to just 60 minutes. But fret not, also-rans; yours could end up being the debate to watch.

It’s unlikely that a debate broadcast at 5 p.m. ET featuring six candidates, none of whom are drawing more than 2 percent in the Real Clear Politics average of polls, will draw as many viewers as the prime-time debate later that evening. From Ted Cruz to Marco Rubio, from Jeb Bush to Scott Walker, and, of course, Donald Trump, the debate promises to be a slugfest. It is no stretch to suggest that this debate will be the most anticipated political event of the summer. But if Trump’s rambling Dadaist speech in South Carolina on Tuesday is any evidence, Trump will devour much of the attention and provide the press with all the ratings-generating mindless mud-slinging they could want. It will be a spectacle. While the GOP candidates who emerge from that debate will benefit from having their sharper edges softened by standing alongside Trump, the process will tarnish the image of the party they are vying to lead.

By contrast, the second-tier debate promises to be a far less entertaining event and, as a happy byproduct, a vastly more enlightening one. Unless the political winds shift rather dramatically in the next month, an outcome that is entirely possible as more and more peripheral Republican primary voters begin to tune into the race, the runner-up debate stage will consist of six talented and accomplished political actors: Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, Ohio Governor John Kasich, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, and former New York Governor George Pataki. None of these candidates has exactly lit a fire under Republican primary voters, but each of these candidates are credentialed enough to deserve the party’s nomination.

What’s more, the debate format eliminates the incentive for these candidates to punch wildly upward at the Republicans who are performing better in the polls. While it’s likely to expect the debate participants to make reference to those Republican candidates who will be battling it out later that evening, it would be wasted effort if any of these debaters did not use their fleeting hour before a national audience to make a positive case for themselves. And each candidate has a positive case to make; one unique to themselves and often radically divergent from their fellow second-tier candidates.

Santorum performed better than any other candidate running for the party’s nomination in 2012, and his socially conservative views are and are not well represented in the current crop of leading candidates. Jindal, too, could make a claim to represent the socially conservative wing of the party, but his compelling personal story has the potential to appeal to marginal general election voters who would otherwise not give the GOP a second glance. Fiorina has proven especially adept on the campaign trail, and polls suggest her rising favorability rating among Republicans provides her with the most room for her support to grow. Kasich has adopted the Jon Huntsman approach to winning the nomination. He will advocate for a style of compassionate conservatism that might have fallen out of favor, but which also last won the GOP the White House. Graham will undoubtedly advocate for a robust approach to foreign affairs and will devote much of his focus to the myriad challenges facing America overseas. Pataki, a three-term governor of one of the bluest states in the nation, can tout his ability to work with the opposition party in order to generate consensus for conservative reforms. Should fortunes shift, one or two of these candidates might be replaced with the likes of a Texas Governor Rick Perry or a New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, which would make this debate even more of a must-see moment in the 2016 campaign.

There is a reason each of these candidates has failed to capture the imaginations of the Republican electorate – the field is too crowded, too accomplished, too dynamic. The second string of debate participants would be foolish to waste this moment of earned media attention flailing impotently at the Republicans polling at or near the top. In contrast to the prime time debate that, if the egotist leading the pack has his way, will fast devolve into a food fight, the second-tier debate could turn out to be a clarifying and policy-oriented affair. By virtue of its novelty, that debate will draw substantially more viewers than is warranted by virtue of the participants’ support in the polls. There is an opportunity here for some of these candidates to jump out of the also-ran pack and make a name for themselves with GOP primary voters.

It’s counterintuitive, but the second-tier debate may be the one to watch and the one that has the most effect on the trajectory of the race.

 

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The Menendez Defense Transcends Iran or New Jersey

For critics of President Obama’s appeasement of Iran’s nuclear program, the federal indictment of Senator Robert Menendez on corruption charges earlier this year seemed highly suspicious. In a single stroke, the Justice Department silenced the most vocal Democratic opponent of the president’s foreign policy as well as forcing him to step down as ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But though the takedown of Menendez served the administration’s interests, the investigation into his dealings with Doctor Salomon Melgen, a friend and wealthy contributor, predated the debate about the Iran deal or even the senator’s public feud with the White House over its attempts to spike sanctions on the Islamist state. While Menendez’s fans stood by him, most of the country considered the case as just one more example of the sleazy political culture that has long prevailed in New Jersey. But Menendez’s response to the indictment in court on Monday raises some interesting issues that transcend his own fate. Though corruption in New Jersey politics seems unremarkable the decision of the Justice Department to treat routine constituent service that is not, in and of itself, illegal as subject to prosecution, can be seen as an attempt to subvert the separation of powers as well as to call into question the right of citizens to contribute to political campaigns.

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For critics of President Obama’s appeasement of Iran’s nuclear program, the federal indictment of Senator Robert Menendez on corruption charges earlier this year seemed highly suspicious. In a single stroke, the Justice Department silenced the most vocal Democratic opponent of the president’s foreign policy as well as forcing him to step down as ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But though the takedown of Menendez served the administration’s interests, the investigation into his dealings with Doctor Salomon Melgen, a friend and wealthy contributor, predated the debate about the Iran deal or even the senator’s public feud with the White House over its attempts to spike sanctions on the Islamist state. While Menendez’s fans stood by him, most of the country considered the case as just one more example of the sleazy political culture that has long prevailed in New Jersey. But Menendez’s response to the indictment in court on Monday raises some interesting issues that transcend his own fate. Though corruption in New Jersey politics seems unremarkable the decision of the Justice Department to treat routine constituent service that is not, in and of itself, illegal as subject to prosecution, can be seen as an attempt to subvert the separation of powers as well as to call into question the right of citizens to contribute to political campaigns.

The prosecution of Menendez hinges on the senator’s intervention with the government to ease the way for Melgen to receive reimbursements from Medicare as well as his efforts to support a port security deal from which the doctor would profit. Neither of those actions is per se illegal. But the indictment considers them to be payment in exchange for Melgen’s $600,000 contribution to a pro-Menendez political action committee even though they have no smoking gun document or evidence proving that this was a quid pro quo agreement.

Is it reasonable to assume that such a large gift meant that Menendez was more inclined to assist Melgen in his dealings with the government than he might otherwise be? Sure. But it is one thing for something to look fishy. It is quite another for the government to destroy the career of a prominent senator on such an assumption. After all, if the same standard were applied to the actions of the Hillary Clinton State Department with regard to the interests of donors to the Clinton Family Foundation, the former First Lady would be in the dock with Menendez and not be the presumptive Democratic candidate for president in 2016.

Moreover, the further assumption on the part of the government that independent contributions are, by definition, necessarily corrupt is based on a view of campaign finance law that runs afoul of the Constitution’s protection of the free exercise of political speech as defined by the U.S. Supreme Court. While the prosecution of Menendez is portrayed in the press as being above politics and unrelated to the debate on Iran, it is a direct result of the administration’s anger about the court’s Citizens United decision and a backhanded attempt to undermine or overturn it.

It may be too much to ask ordinary citizens with a cynical view of politics to view this as a constitutional issue. But whatever you may think about the obviously cozy relationship between Menendez and his wealthy friend, if the Justice Department can criminalize his actions on a mere assumption then no member of either the House or the Senate is safe from similar attentions. And if that doesn’t bother liberals and Democrats who don’t like Menendez and are inclined to support any aim pursued by Attorney Generals Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, they should ponder how they would feel about the next Republican-run Justice Department scrutinizing liberals who get big contributions from donors.

Though the Menendez case seems like something out of “The Sopranos,” it is, in fact, an unprecedented intrusion by the executive into the rights of the legislative branch. Moreover, there is no principle in law that regards Menendez as having a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers to see that their money is well spent, rather than being directed to his friends. If there were, then the entire Congress would be under indictment.

This case won’t be resolved any time soon. Indeed, Iran may well have a nuclear bomb long before Menendez’s efforts to have the charges thrown out and then a possible trial and appeals are finished. But the principle at stake actually transcends the battle over Iran or even campaign finance laws. If Menendez can be singled out in this fashion, then any legislator or office holder will be easy prey for prosecutions from hostile administrations or U.S. Attorneys looking for prominent scalps to hang on their walls.

 

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ISIS’s Evil Cannot Be Contained

“Evil isn’t always defeated.”

So says former CIA deputy director John McLaughlin about ISIS. “It suddenly just occurred to me, if you add everything up, that these guys could win,” he told the New York TimesRead More

“Evil isn’t always defeated.”

So says former CIA deputy director John McLaughlin about ISIS. “It suddenly just occurred to me, if you add everything up, that these guys could win,” he told the New York Times

He isn’t the only one thinking along those lines. Stephen Walt of Harvard, notorious for his attacks on pro-Israel supporters as a Fifth Column, recently penned an essay entitled, “What should we do if the Islamic State wins?”

It is accurate to point out that ISIS has been withstanding a year’s worth of ineffectual American air attacks — that it has actually expanded its domain during the time it has been under low-level American assault. It certainly makes sense to worry that on the current trajectory the Islamic State, notwithstanding its extreme brutality (or perhaps because of it), will have a dismayingly long life.

But the question is what conclusion do you draw from these accurate observations? My conclusion is that we need to do more to defeat ISIS. Walt and others among the chattering classes, however, seem to be falling prey to a corrosive defeatism that holds that an ISIS victory is no big deal.

Sure, ISIS burns prisoners alive and beheads them. Sure, it enslaves and rapes women, murders Shiites and non-Muslims en masse, and destroys priceless antiquities. But, hey writes Walt, who are we to object when our own ancestors “massacred, raped, and starved Native Americans”? And that’s to say nothing of those really bad guys, “the Zionists who founded Israel.”

Sure, ISIS is guilty of excesses, but so were other revolutionary movements such as the Bolsheviks and Chinese communists, who were ostracized for decades by the West before they calmed down and assumed their rightful place in “the international community.” Why can’t we look forward to the day when ISIS will have a seat at the United Nations?  Walt suggests that we practice “containment” until ISIS, too, cools down and starts acting like a normal state.

Where to begin with an argument so spectacularly misguided? Perhaps it’s worth pointing out the obvious — that while Americans, Britons, and lots of other people did things in centuries past that we would today consider abhorrent, they were, by contemporary standards, pretty civilized. While it’s true, for example, that English settlers massacred Indians, it’s also true that Indians massacred English settlers. It was a more brutal world back then.

The groups that ISIS most resembles historically are not the Americans or Britons, but rather berserkers such as the Mongols and Vikings and Huns who wiped out the civilizations they encountered. And, yes, it’s true that in the long run they blended with more settled societies and settled down — but then, as they say, in the long run, we are all dead.

So, too, more contemporary monsters such as Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong eventually tired of mass murder. After their deaths, the states they created became less savage. But that’s scant comfort to the tens of millions of people who were the victims of these tyrants.

And it is not just Russians or Chinese who suffered. The U.S. was drawn into World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War — conflicts that cost us hundreds of thousands of fatalities — as a result of the communist victories in Russia and China. (Stalin helped Hitler rearm in the 1930s and agreed with him to partition Poland, the act which launched World War II. After the war, China and Russia gave Kim Il-Sung and Ho Chi Minh the go-ahead to launch their wars of aggression.) It is hardly comforting to know that today Russia and China are more civilized — especially because they aren’t that civilized. China is still ruled by communists and Russia by a former KGB agent, and both are still threats to their neighbors and the United States.

Another example makes the same point: The Iranian revolution is pretty long in the tooth now (it’s been in power since 1979), but Iran’s revolutionary zeal has not dimmed. It’s still supporting brutal proxies such as Hezbollah and Bashar Assad who have been responsible for more than 200,000 deaths in Syria’s civil war. Now, of course, its war of aggression against its neighbors is going to receive a massive injection of resources by way of the nuclear deal that President Obama has just negotiated, so we can expect Iranian attacks to grow.

Thus, the notion that we can sit back comfortably and wait for ISIS to moderate is pretty farcical. Perhaps that will happen in a hundred years, but who will live long enough to see it? How many innocents will have been tortured and murdered in the meantime?

This is not just a human rights issue for those unfortunate enough today to live in the Islamic State. Remember that the emergence of revolutionary regimes in Russia and China (or for that matter in France in 1789), was not just a matter of concern for their own citizens. Those regimes sparked wars and spread revolutions that affected their neighbors — and in the case of the communist regimes, states from Africa to Latin America.

Likewise today ISIS is busy sprouting “provinces” from Libya to Afghanistan and inspiring lone-wolf jihadists to murder their neighbors wherever they may live. Like Taliban-era Afghanistan, the Islamic State has become a magnet for foreign extremists, some of whom are sure to receive training that they will put to use in their home countries. ISIS has already done much to destabilize its neighbors — having spread from Syria to Iraq, it is also now carrying out suicide bombings in Turkey and elsewhere. And the threat is getting worse all the time.

This is not a threat that can be “contained.” If we can’t stop foreign fighters from going into Syria, how do we stop them from coming out? How do we prevent ISIS from using the Internet and cell phones to communicate with fighters around the world? (That’s gotten especially hard to do because of Edward Snowden’s revelations.) How can we stop ISIS’s rabid ideology from spreading murder and mayhem not only across the Middle East but around the world wherever Muslims might be radicalized by its message?

The answer is we can’t. The only way to dim ISIS’s ideological appeal – and, hence, end its reign of terror — is, as Graeme Wood argued in The Atlantic, to destroy its caliphate. Mercifully that is a realistic objective because ISIS is not as remotely as powerful as the Soviet Union or Red China. Yes, in the case of those superpowers, we had to accommodate ourselves to evil. But ISIS is not yet a superpower — and it will never be if we do more to destroy it today while it still remains vulnerable.

 

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