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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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Iran Deal’s Debut: Tepid Support, Technical Problems, Teheran Gloats

On the day the Iran deal was announced, Republican Senator Tom Cotton analogized it to the big spending packages Congress passes in the dead of night, where the good stuff is announced on day one followed by the people discovering the details hidden in the arcane language. He predicted Americans would not like a deal in which “a terrorist-sponsoring, anti-American outlaw regime will keep its nuclear program, and we will eliminate sanctions … [and] even the conventional arms embargo, [and] the ballistic missile embargo, will be lifted … [so] if Iran follows the agreement down to every specific detail, they will still be a nuclear-armed state with a ballistic missile program, a healthy economy whose military has been enriched with tens of billions of dollars, and that’s to say nothing of whether they will follow the agreement … and what they’ll do [when they are] flush with that cash and ascendant in the Middle East.” One week later, the Pew Research Center poll shows that of the 79 percent of Americans who have heard about the deal, only 38 percent approve, while 48 percent disapprove (14 percent have no opinion). And the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has not even begun its hearings yet (the first one is tomorrow). Read More

On the day the Iran deal was announced, Republican Senator Tom Cotton analogized it to the big spending packages Congress passes in the dead of night, where the good stuff is announced on day one followed by the people discovering the details hidden in the arcane language. He predicted Americans would not like a deal in which “a terrorist-sponsoring, anti-American outlaw regime will keep its nuclear program, and we will eliminate sanctions … [and] even the conventional arms embargo, [and] the ballistic missile embargo, will be lifted … [so] if Iran follows the agreement down to every specific detail, they will still be a nuclear-armed state with a ballistic missile program, a healthy economy whose military has been enriched with tens of billions of dollars, and that’s to say nothing of whether they will follow the agreement … and what they’ll do [when they are] flush with that cash and ascendant in the Middle East.” One week later, the Pew Research Center poll shows that of the 79 percent of Americans who have heard about the deal, only 38 percent approve, while 48 percent disapprove (14 percent have no opinion). And the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has not even begun its hearings yet (the first one is tomorrow).

The Pew survey was conducted July 14-20, so it does not reflect: (i) the rush to incorporate the deal into a binding UN resolution adopted without any debate, much less analysis; (ii) the disingenuous explanation for disregarding bipartisan calls to delay that action (“the world made us do it”); and (iii) four reports issued yesterday by the highly-regarded Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) — one of which finds ambiguities in Iran’s obligation to reduce its relatively large stock of near 20 percent enriched uranium; another that finds the exceptions to the cap on low enriched uranium have “grown since the Lausanne agreement and some of them could undermine the very value of the cap”; a third report on a lack of clarity on “possible military dimensions” (PMD) that suggests an “inability to resolve disputes over this issue,” with provisions “left to an interpretation by the parties and the IAEA that is not yet clear”; and a final report that indicates a rapid plutonium path:

In a potentially significant change from Iran’s commitment in the April 2015 U.S. fact sheet describing the Lausanne Framework of parameters, Iran has committed not to reprocess spent fuel or separate plutonium for only 15 years. The commitment was stated to be indefinite in the April framework. This means that after year 15 Iran could separate plutonium from irradiated fuel or perhaps targets, providing another way to rapidly build nuclear weapons. [Emphasis added].

Meanwhile, Teheran may be interpreting the deal in a manner that elides entirely all these technical questions. The indefatigable Omri Ceren of The Israel Project emails about remarks yesterday by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Iran’s parliament, in which Zarif boasted about his “refusal to allow inspection or refusal to accept any restrictions in the defense and missile spheres,” which Zarif told parliament “has been fully achieved through the deal.” So the problems of interpretation with this deal may be more than technical.

This is what happens when you negotiate a deal in secret, have it incorporated immediately into international law without hearings, try to circumvent Congressional review, and dismiss dissenters as warmongers. And we are only on Day Three of the 60-day period for Congressional consideration.

 

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Can Schumer Finesse His Iran Deal Vote Dilemma?

For a politician who normally would do anything for publicity or attention, Senator Chuck Schumer has been mighty quiet the last week. The reason isn’t a mystery. The signing of the Iran nuclear deal has put Schumer into a tight spot. As the designated successor to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Schumer is obligated not to lend assistance to the effort to stop a pact that is President Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement. Yet, at the same time, he is under enormous pressure to make good on his past promises to oppose a weak Iran deal and to stand up in defense of the State of Israel, whose security is compromised by the administration’s appeasement policy. Schumer has spent his entire political career positioning himself as an outspoken supporter of Israel as well as a fearsome partisan Democrat. Under most circumstances, that needn’t be a contradiction in terms, but with President Obama lobbying Congress hard to back his deal, they are now. For once, Schumer must choose. But the question is not only what choice will he make but also whether his attempts to keep his feet firmly planted in both the pro-Israel camp and that of the administration can possibly succeed.

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For a politician who normally would do anything for publicity or attention, Senator Chuck Schumer has been mighty quiet the last week. The reason isn’t a mystery. The signing of the Iran nuclear deal has put Schumer into a tight spot. As the designated successor to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Schumer is obligated not to lend assistance to the effort to stop a pact that is President Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement. Yet, at the same time, he is under enormous pressure to make good on his past promises to oppose a weak Iran deal and to stand up in defense of the State of Israel, whose security is compromised by the administration’s appeasement policy. Schumer has spent his entire political career positioning himself as an outspoken supporter of Israel as well as a fearsome partisan Democrat. Under most circumstances, that needn’t be a contradiction in terms, but with President Obama lobbying Congress hard to back his deal, they are now. For once, Schumer must choose. But the question is not only what choice will he make but also whether his attempts to keep his feet firmly planted in both the pro-Israel camp and that of the administration can possibly succeed.

Though the administration is seeking with the assistance of left-wing groups to promote the notion that the Iran deal is good for Israel that flimsy argument is deceiving no one. The pact grants Western approval for Iran’s status as a nuclear threshold state enriches it via the collapse of sanctions and provides few safeguards (a 24-day warning period for inspections makes promises about monitoring cheating a joke) against its eventual acquisition of a nuclear weapon once the deal expires. The deal will not only enable Iran to give more support for Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists but will assist Tehran’s goal of regional hegemony.

It is one thing for those whose support for Israel has always been secondary to their left-wing ideology or pro-Obama partisanship (such as the J Street lobby or the National Jewish Democratic Council) to endorse this brazen act of appeasement. For Schumer, a man who has staked his career on being the shomer (Hebrew for guardian) of Israel’s security in Congress, it would be a stunning betrayal that he would never live down.

As I wrote back in April, Schumer’s stance on the Iran deal won’t be the whole story. Even if he chooses to vote in favor of a resolution that seeks to nullify the pact, he may also work behind the scenes to ensure that at least 34 Democrats back the president so as to ensure that an Obama veto won’t be overridden. Such vote trading is routine in Congress and allows House members and senators to tell constituents that they voted one way when they are really conspiring to help those who are working against that goal.

But whether he finesses this vote in that manner or not, it would be mistaken to think that there won’t be serious political consequences for Schumer no matter how he votes.

It may be that the administration will give Schumer a pass for voting against the deal provided that he ensures that other Democrats give the president the votes he needs. But Schumer must also know that his succession as minority leader may be threatened by a vote against Obama. The Senate may be the world’s most exclusive club, but it is entirely possible that his vote will be reason enough for some liberal colleague to challenge him. Any senator that does so will be counting on the active support of the party’s increasingly ascendant left wing that regards Schumer as an ally of Wall Street.

On the other hand, the cost of doing Obama’s bidding could be even higher for Schumer. New York has become a virtual one-party state and Schumer faced only token opposition from Republicans while gaining re-election in 2004 and 2010. But if he were to vote for the Iran deal, it would virtually guarantee that his 2016 re-election race would become very interesting if not competitive. While there is no obvious formidable challenger on the horizon, Schumer knows that the GOP wouldn’t have much difficulty finding one and that such a person would have no trouble raising all the money needed for a race that would become a referendum of Schumer’s possible betrayal of Israel on the Iran nuclear threat.

The first shot fired over his bow comes today in the form of what pro-Israel activists hope will be a massive demonstration in New York’s Times Square. Billed as a “Stop Iran Now” rally, the purpose will be to ensure that Congress knows that the overwhelming majority of the pro-Israel community is united behind the effort to oppose the deal.

If Schumer, and other pro-Israel Democrats stick with Obama they will be allying themselves with J Street over AIPAC, a strategic decision that would be the moral equivalent of choosing a water pistol to use in a fight with a tank when it comes to future electoral support.

But the real problem for Schumer and other Democrats goes beyond the danger of alienating pro-Israel donors. Only those so blinded by their support for Obama fail to see that the Iran deal vote is one of those rare Congressional decisions that present a clear moral choice. If Schumer sticks with Obama, that may secure his future as the Democrats’ Senate leader. But if will come at the cost of his reputation as a defender of Israel and make his seat a lot less safe than it might otherwise be.

 

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Cementing Iran’s Hold on Iraq

After the Iran deal was announced, my old boss Leslie Gelb (who is well connected with the Obama administration) confirmed what Michael Doran and I have been writing for a while. “According to top administration officials,” Gelb wrote, “Mr. Obama has always been after something much bigger than capping Iran’s nuclear program, and he got it — the strategic opportunity to begin converting Iran from foe to ‘friend.'” Read More

After the Iran deal was announced, my old boss Leslie Gelb (who is well connected with the Obama administration) confirmed what Michael Doran and I have been writing for a while. “According to top administration officials,” Gelb wrote, “Mr. Obama has always been after something much bigger than capping Iran’s nuclear program, and he got it — the strategic opportunity to begin converting Iran from foe to ‘friend.'”

Such naive hopes should have been dashed by the Supreme Leader’s response to the Iran deal.

“Our policy regarding the arrogant U.S. government will not change,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised address on Saturday, while his supporters chanted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” “We don’t have any negotiations or deal with the U.S. on different issues in the world or the region.”

For good measure, he added, “We will not give up on our friends in the region.” That would be “friends” like Bashar Assad whose forces are now said to be dropping naval mines — the kind designed to destroy warships — on civilian areas. Or like Hezbollah, which is not only fighting to preserve the brutal Assad regime but also stockpiling at least 50,000 missiles aimed at Israel. How many more missiles will Hezbollah be able to afford when it receives its share of Iran’s $100 billion first-year windfall, one wonders?

Yet the Obama administration seems blithely untroubled by evidence – both in rhetoric and action – showing that Iran has no intention of giving up its mantle as the No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Instead, the U.S. is acting as if Iran is really our de facto ally not only in nuclear arms control but also in fighting terrorism.

The latest evidence of the administration’s misguided faith in the Islamic Republic is its decision to deliver the first four F-16s to Iraq, which it did just before the Iran deal was signed. Thirty-two more F-16s are scheduled to arrive in Iraq eventually. Assuming that these advanced warplanes are not captured by ISIS (as has been the case with many Humvees, MRAPS, and even Abrams tanks that the U.S. has provided to Iraq), they will be operated by an Iraqi regime that has been thoroughly subverted by Iran’s agents and proxies.

The most powerful man in Iraq is not the ineffectual prime minister but rather Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of the Iranian Quds Force, who (in yet another boost for Iranian regional designs) will be taken off the European and U.N. sanctions lists by the terms of the Iran deal. The second most powerful man is probably his close ally, Hadi al-Ameri, the minister of transportation and head of the Badr Corps, the Shiite militia that has become more powerful than the Iraqi armed forces. As a Sunni politician said earlier this year, “Iran now dominates Iraq.”

It is more than a bit shocking that the Obama administration is willing to deliver such advanced aircraft to an Iranian-dominated regime. That makes no sense unless the administration thinks the airplanes will be used to fight ISIS, a battle in which the US and Iran supposedly have a common stake. It may well be that the aircraft will be used to bomb ISIS. Or perhaps they will be used to randomly bomb Sunni population centers, as Assad’s aircraft do on a daily basis in Syria.

Whatever the case, of one thing we can be sure: The aircraft will further increase the power not of Iraq’s moderate Sunnis, Kurds, or even Shiites, but rather the power of the Iranian-backed radicals who are in de facto control in Iraq. The aircraft could even wind up in Iranian hands, allowing Iran to get a head-start on breaking the arms embargo that is due to expire in no more than five years anyway.

From the American standpoint, that is about as self-defeating a strategy as it possible to imagine. As I’ve argued repeatedly, any increase in Iranian power actually redounds to the benefit of ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other Sunni radicals who can then posture as defenders of their communities against “Persian” aggression. We should be arming and supporting real and potential partners such as the Kurds and the Sunni tribes in Anbar Province. Instead, we are assisting Iran in extending its growing empire.

Even if Congress can’t stop the Iranian nuclear deal, it should stop further F-16 deliveries to Iraq as long as Iran continues to dominate in Baghdad.

 

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Who’s Holding America’s Credibility Hostage?

As the 2016 presidential primary season heats up, Republicans desperate to find an alternative to Jeb Bush and Democrats similarly apprehensive about nominating Hillary Clinton won’t be surprised to discover that the People’s Republic of China is not on their side. Read More

As the 2016 presidential primary season heats up, Republicans desperate to find an alternative to Jeb Bush and Democrats similarly apprehensive about nominating Hillary Clinton won’t be surprised to discover that the People’s Republic of China is not on their side.

“The ruling Chinese Communist Party is deeply sensitive to charges that it is non-democratic and the playground of ‘princelings’— a pejorative term for the class of Chinese business tycoons and political power players who trace their lineages to Communist veterans,” read a provocative analysis via Politico’s Aaron Mak. From the view of the PRC bureaucrats in Zhongnanhai, a Bush-Clinton race provides the most propagandistic value because it best allows them to contend that American meritocracy is a sham. If a second-generation American like Marco Rubio can secure his party’s presidential nomination, much less the presidency itself, it suggests that America’s promise is no lie. If, however, a Bush and a Clinton again make it to the top of the ticket in 2016, the Chinese communists would claim that their system is no more or less meritocratic than America’s.

It’s a specious argument, but the Chinese will grasp at whatever straws they have available. The contention the PRC is advancing is that America’s credibility as the Shining City on a Hill is at stake. What’s more, only Democratic and Republican primary voters can rescue it. It’s nonsense, but it’s not all that dissimilar from a contention that Secretary of State John Kerry is advancing.

In an appearance on NPR on Monday, after having gone to the United Nations which summarily and with little debate ratified the terms of the nuclear accord with Iran, America’s chief diplomat warned the U.S. Congress that it was in the nation’s best interest if they fell in line. “I’m telling you, the U.S. will have lost all credibility,” Kerry said of the prospect of two-thirds of both chambers of the federal legislature rejecting the deal.

“We will not be in the hunt,” Kerry added. “And if we then decided to use military [after a deal fails], do you believe the United Nations will be with us? Do you think our European colleagues will support us? Not on your life.”

What brazen extortion; and of a supposedly co-equal branch of the federal government at that. These were precisely the consequences that the administration sought when they went to the United Nations with an Iran resolution (circulated before the deal was even revealed publicly), and now they are spelling out the ramifications of their actions as though they were acts of nature. How perfectly galling.

If the United States needed to take military action against Iran, they would in all likelihood not have had United Nations approval – the Russians or the Chinese would have exercised their veto power in the Security Council. As for Europe, who suspects the continent will back military strikes on Iranian nuclear targets now that their commercial ties with the Islamic Republic are all but re-established?

The virtues of Kerry’s arguments are nil, and he knows it. According to reporting, the secretary of state lobbied his boss to allow his former colleagues in the Congress the opportunity to have a vote on the Iran deal before it was submitted to the United Nations. The outcome of that vote was almost certainly not going to be a bipartisan revolt of the legslators and a veto-proof in both the House and the Senate. But Obama wouldn’t gamble with his coveted legacy achievement.

Kerry is right in one sense: a true test of America’s credibility is before it. The ideals of the Founding generation and the will of the voters will not be reaffirmed if the legislature is compelled by coercion and cowardice to subordinate its prerogative to the executive branch. The president wants to see American sovereignty diminished and its absolute authority affirmed, and the legislature would be foolish if it did not resist such an encroachment. Some modest rebuke is called for, and, even though it would not prevent the implementation of this deal, Congress should refuse to legitimize this accord. There is precedent for such a course of action, and it would serve as modest but deserved comeuppance for an administration as imperial as this one.

 

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ISIS Picks the Wrong Fight

ISIS may well come to regret the day it chose to mess with Turkey.

A suicide bomber, believed to be an ISIS member, has killed at least 31 people in the southern Turkish town of Suruc near the Syrian border. The victims — including three beautiful young women who took a selfie together moments before they were killed — were members of socialist youth groups who had congregated to work on rebuilding the town of Kobani in northern Syrian, which had been taken by Kurdish fighters from ISIS in January after a bloody months-long fight. Read More

ISIS may well come to regret the day it chose to mess with Turkey.

A suicide bomber, believed to be an ISIS member, has killed at least 31 people in the southern Turkish town of Suruc near the Syrian border. The victims — including three beautiful young women who took a selfie together moments before they were killed — were members of socialist youth groups who had congregated to work on rebuilding the town of Kobani in northern Syrian, which had been taken by Kurdish fighters from ISIS in January after a bloody months-long fight.

Turkey has long had an ambivalent relationship with ISIS. Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is a Sunni Islamist who has called for the overthrow of Bashar Assad’s Alawite regime, which is backed by Shiite Iran. In the fight against Assad, Erdoğan has thrown in his lot with the al-Nusra Front, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria. He has not exactly supported ISIS, at least not insofar as we know, but he has not done much to stop it either. He has been notoriously lax on border security, allowing many thousands of foreign recruits to cross from Turkey into Syria. And when the fight in Kobani was going on, directly visible from the Turkish border, he did nothing to help the Kurdish fighters because he doesn’t want to boost Kurdish separatism.

But in recent days, Erdoğan had ordered a roundup of ISIS activists, and that may have helped trigger this suicide bombing.

Let us hope that the Suruc suicide bombing will further awaken Erdoğan to the danger posed by ISIS. Because if Turkey gets serious about fighting ISIS, there is rather a lot it can do. It could, for a start, use its substantial army to create “safe zones” across the border in Turkey which could not be threatened either by ISIS or Assad — safe zones where the more moderate Syrian opposition could establish itself. If Turkey were really on the warpath, its army could probably destroy the entire caliphate, at least the part on the Syrian side of the border, in fairly short order. Turkish participation in the Syrian civil war could be a game changer, conceivably even leading to a peaceful resolution of the conflict as Syria’s own involvement in the Lebanese civil war in the 1990s did.

The problem, from Turkey’s perspective, is that as a Sunni state it is not going to fight ISIS if that redounds to the advantage of Assad. If the hints delivered from Erdoğan are to be believed, he has been looking for Washington to endorse a more balanced policy that is both anti-Assad and anti-ISIS. Under those circumstances, Turkey might be convinced to play a more active and positive role in Syria. But, of course, the odds of President Obama stepping up in Syria are scant — especially not when he is in the midst of a grand rapprochement with Iran which doesn’t care much about ISIS one way or the other, but that does desperately want Assad to remain in power.

Thus in all likelihood this opportunity to harness Turkish outrage will pass, allowing Iran and ISIS to continue dividing up Syria between them.

 

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Nuclear Deal Will Enable Iran-Sponsored Terrorism

With the world’s attention focused squarely on the Iran nuclear talks, the Hamas military buildup in the Gaza has largely gone unnoticed in the international press. However, the steady pace of tunnel building and arms imports into the strip has not escaped the notion of Israel’s defense establishment. Hamas has bragged of its ability to maintain the pace of construction at the Israeli border on tunnels aimed at facilitating terror attacks. While Israelis hope that Hamas is serious about maintaining the cease-fire that has held since last summer’s war, they rightly worry about whether dissatisfaction with its rule will lead the leadership of the group to conclude that another round of violence is the best to stay in power as well as to undermine its Fatah rivals in the West Bank. But one aspect of the deal that Congress needs to thoroughly explore before it votes on the agreement is the degree to that the money that will flood into the Islamist regime once sanctions are lifted may serve to provide another major incentive that could provide the spark for another war.

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With the world’s attention focused squarely on the Iran nuclear talks, the Hamas military buildup in the Gaza has largely gone unnoticed in the international press. However, the steady pace of tunnel building and arms imports into the strip has not escaped the notion of Israel’s defense establishment. Hamas has bragged of its ability to maintain the pace of construction at the Israeli border on tunnels aimed at facilitating terror attacks. While Israelis hope that Hamas is serious about maintaining the cease-fire that has held since last summer’s war, they rightly worry about whether dissatisfaction with its rule will lead the leadership of the group to conclude that another round of violence is the best to stay in power as well as to undermine its Fatah rivals in the West Bank. But one aspect of the deal that Congress needs to thoroughly explore before it votes on the agreement is the degree to that the money that will flood into the Islamist regime once sanctions are lifted may serve to provide another major incentive that could provide the spark for another war.

The situation in Gaza is generally depicted in the international press as one of squalor and deprivation. But economic problems have not prevented Hamas from diverting a significant portion of the aid the strip receives away from reconstruction of homes destroyed in last year’s war towards the rebuilding of their military infrastructure. Rather than hiding its plans, Hamas has repeatedly boasted in public about efforts to build more tunnels under the border that would be used for murder and kidnapping raids inside Israel. The partial blockade Israel tries to enforce with help from Egypt is geared toward preventing Hamas from bringing in materials that could be used for either tunnel building or the construction of strongholds that would shield terrorists and their armaments from counter-attack. But to their chagrin, the Israelis have discovered that some of the material used for this purpose is actually being brought into Gaza via the daily convoys from Israel that are supposed to deliver humanitarian aid and other non-military items.

That’s a troubling breakdown for the Israelis that, as the Times of Israel reports, helps to explain how Hamas has maintained the steady work on the tunnels despite heat and lack of pay for the hundreds slaving away underground on the project reportedly with heavy engineering equipment. If, as Israeli authorities now assume, Hamas has at least one tunnel already completed that has not yet been detected, the stage is already set for a terrorist outrage that could set off another rocket barrage on Israeli cities in the coming months. Hamas may fear that a new war might lead the Israeli government to decide to act decisively against them this time. Yet they also know that pressure from an Obama administration that wants nothing to undermine its pact with Iran will continue to serve as a decisive restraint on Israeli policy.

Israel and the U.S. may hope that Hamas will see the maintenance of the cease-fire as in their interests as well as that of the residents of the independent Palestinian state in all but name in Gaza But Iran may have other ideas. Its rapprochement with Hamas in the last year was made possible in no small measure by the Obama administration’s soft approach to Syria. Hamas broke with Iran over Assad but has backtracked now that it’s clear that efforts to install an Islamist regime in its place have failed due to Tehran’s military intervention and the West’s decision to do nothing but talk about the need for Assad to go. Hamas-Iran reconciliation gives Tehran a southern ally to go with its Hezbollah auxiliaries that threaten Israel from the north.

This is important because of Iran’s predilection for making mischief in pursuit of its goal of regional hegemony. But the flood of cash into Iran’s coffers that will follow the completion of the nuclear deal will significantly enhance its ability to shower aid on its allies. Not even the Obama administration denies that Iran remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. With Israel being the leading voice against the Western push for détente with Tehran, the ayatollahs have every reason to try to ratchet up the pressure on the Jewish state via new attacks from Hamas that might, unlike the case with last summer’s fighting, be coordinated with rocket launches from Hezbollah in the north.

The administration has been trying to deny that their diplomacy will have an impact on Hamas and Hezbollah. But, as Israeli blogger Jeffrey Grossman noted yesterday, they’re having trouble keeping their stories straight. Secretary of State John Kerry claimed that Iran would not be allowed to use their new riches to help their terrorist allies. But National Security Advisor Susan Rice has conceded that there would be nothing to stop them from sending funds (but not arms as they already do) to Hamas. Meanwhile the Iranians are making it clear that nothing in the deal will stop them from doing whatever they like with regard to helping their terrorist friends. They’re right about that. Nothing in the agreement will prevent Iran-sponsored terrorism.

The pact deserves to be rejected on the nuclear issue alone since it gives Iran a clear path to a bomb even if it observes its terms with a short 10 to 15 year period. The lack of transparency and the failure to set up a meaningful inspections procedure that would provide the anytime, anywhere access that the administration once promised was a given means it is a blatant act of nuclear appeasement. But even as we rightly focus on the nuclear threat, the short-term impact of its terms on Iran’s ability to aid terrorism is equally important. An Iranian bomb may have to wait until it reaps all the benefits of President Obama’s foolish desire for détente with Tehran. But a new war from a Hamas aided by its powerful Iranian friend may be the first calamity that will result from this fiasco.

 

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Has John Kasich Been Trumped?

Ohio Governor John Kasich entered the presidential race today with a loaded resume and a strategy aimed at getting him onto the first tier debate stage on Fox News next month in Cleveland. Kasich’s credentials as a veteran House member, Fox News host, and a successful governor ought to make him a serious contender for 2016. And his decision to wait until only a couple of weeks before the August 6th debate before officially announcing his entry into the race ought to ensure that an announcement bump in the polls will help him make the cut. That may yet happen and Kasich — the 16th and probably the last GOP candidate to declare — could come from out of nowhere and have chance to win next year. But the resume and the timing don’t appear to be having the impact he hoped for. Rather than following in the footsteps of his idol Ronald Reagan as the leader of the conservative movement, Kasich enters the race being seen by much of his party’s base as the second coming of Jon Huntsman, whose disastrous 2012 presidential run is a model of everything a Republican shouldn’t do. And rather than benefit from his timing, Kasich’s announcement lands smack in the middle of the Donald Trump media frenzy meaning that, unlike other candidates, he may not benefit much from the late start.

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Ohio Governor John Kasich entered the presidential race today with a loaded resume and a strategy aimed at getting him onto the first tier debate stage on Fox News next month in Cleveland. Kasich’s credentials as a veteran House member, Fox News host, and a successful governor ought to make him a serious contender for 2016. And his decision to wait until only a couple of weeks before the August 6th debate before officially announcing his entry into the race ought to ensure that an announcement bump in the polls will help him make the cut. That may yet happen and Kasich — the 16th and probably the last GOP candidate to declare — could come from out of nowhere and have chance to win next year. But the resume and the timing don’t appear to be having the impact he hoped for. Rather than following in the footsteps of his idol Ronald Reagan as the leader of the conservative movement, Kasich enters the race being seen by much of his party’s base as the second coming of Jon Huntsman, whose disastrous 2012 presidential run is a model of everything a Republican shouldn’t do. And rather than benefit from his timing, Kasich’s announcement lands smack in the middle of the Donald Trump media frenzy meaning that, unlike other candidates, he may not benefit much from the late start.

Given Kasich’s strong conservative credentials dating back to his earlier support for Reagan and his impressive record in the House, any comparison to a man like Huntsman that served in the Obama administration and then ran against the GOP base seems deeply unfair. But the analogy fits and not only because he seems to have hired many of the same consultants that guided the former Utah governor’s fiasco of a campaign. Kasich’s stands on common core and Medicare expansion, as well as his willingness to challenge the base on social justice issues, has given him the aura of a Jeb Bush-lite. That positions him to compete against both Bush and Chris Christie for moderate Republican voters but without the advantage of spending the last several months out on the campaign trail trying to establish his candidacy.

The Huntsman example is instructive for more than just Kasich. In both 2008 and 2012, Republicans nominated moderates rather than conservatives. But in neither of those cases did either John McCain or Mitt Romney run against the party base. No matter how many right-wingers are competing for the loyalty of the Tea Party and seemingly leaving an opening for a moderate to win, antagonizing those who make up the backbone of your party is a formula for disaster, not victory.

But the biggest problem at the moment for Kasich is the way the timing of his announcement has been Trumped by the media’s Donald obsession. Throughout the spring, each announcement has given each candidate a bump in the polls though some have been bigger than others. But even a minor boost in the polls would be a lifesaver for Kasich if it enabled him to break into the top ten and thus ensure his place on the main stage at the Fox debate. Kasich currently ranks 11th in the Real Clear Politics average of polls. If that doesn’t change, he’s going to be left on the sidelines on August 6th along with Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum and George Pataki.

But it’s not clear that with arguments about Trump dominating the news that Kasich will get much attention. Nor, to be fair to the media, is it likely that the Ohio governor’s lengthy and rambling announcement speech likely to generate much enthusiasm among the voting public the way the speeches from Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker did. In a weaker field that might not matter, but our first impression of Kasich was of man who couldn’t match his competition in terms of his ability to speak about his vision for the country or the rationale for his candidacy.

There may have been a rationale for a John Kasich candidacy but his decision to play the moderate rather than compete for conservative votes and his collision with the Trump juggernaut may reproduce the same results a far less worthy candidate like Huntsman obtained. Waiting until July may have seemed smart in the spring, but it turned out to be a serious mistake that will lengthen the odds against him.

 

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The GOP Entertainment Wing’s Flight of Fancy

Donald Trump is not running for president.

Oh, he acts like he is a candidate on a stage. And Trump has filed the requisite paperwork with the Federal Election Commission, as have hundreds of others. But he is not running a presidential campaign. Read More

Donald Trump is not running for president.

Oh, he acts like he is a candidate on a stage. And Trump has filed the requisite paperwork with the Federal Election Commission, as have hundreds of others. But he is not running a presidential campaign.

It might come as no surprise that the gaffe-a-minute reality television star has claimed that he has no use for pollsters. “I don’t want a pollster,” he told the New York Times. “Because if a pollster’s so good, why aren’t they running?” The logic is impeccable. But pollsters are not the only political professionals whose services Trump has eschewed. If the alleged presidential candidate had hired a consulting firm with a graphics department, he probably would not have promoted his candidacy by sending out an image with the American flag superimposed over the soldiers of the Nazi Waffen-SS that someone on Trump’s team apparently mistook for American troops. Say what you will about political consultants, at least they know the difference between U.S. soldiers and the German division responsible for their massacre at Malmedy. Perhaps that lapse explains Trump’s evident low regard for American servicemen and women who endure torture and deprivation in enemy custody.

Nor has Donald Trump or his team displayed much interest in the technical aspects of running for the president. Little things like developing an organization in the early primary states that is tasked with winning the requisite delegates to secure the party’s nod and transitioning into a grassroots general election support structure. “I met Mr. Trump for 30 seconds on May 9. Gave him my card. He hasn’t called me thus far,” South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore revealed. Moore’s frustration is shared by Iowa and New Hampshire’s GOP operatives who say they have had little contact with Trump or his organization. That does not, however, mean the reality TV star has ignored the early states entirely. Earlier this month, Trump hired as his Iowa campaign co-chair a former contestant on his canceled reality television program The Apprentice. The move generated quite a few headlines and, for the Trump campaign, that seems to be an end in itself.

Anyone with even a passing understanding of how political campaigns are waged and won knows that what they are witnessing is a spectacle. This is not a presidential candidacy; it’s a vehicle for self-promotion. That makes the unwavering support that Trump has received from prominent members of what constitutes the “entertainment wing” of the GOP, its popular radio talk show hosts and commentators, that much more egregious. Showmen and women themselves, they recognize one of their own when they see him.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board admirably drew fire from the right this week when it briefly scolded an unnamed cadre of “conservative media elites” who serve as Trump’s “apologists,” but those the Journal admonished do little in the way of apologizing for the target of their affections. “Abettors” is perhaps a more apt description of those who would willingly facilitate a grift. Some of the most accomplished, seasoned, and bright members of the conservative movement’s commentary class have inexplicably given succor to a figure who is flagrantly misrepresenting himself and misleading their audiences.

Mark Levin, a constitutional scholar and a deservedly successful radio host, bizarrely declined to challenge Trump in the same way that he has other Republican candidates who have joined him on his radio program. “You know, your biggest problem is going to be the Republican establishment,” Levin advised after noting how his candidacy has resonated with the public and lamenting how the Republican members of the legislative branch are too quick to seek compromise with the country’s executive. This is a far cry from the Mark Levin of 2011 who called Trump an “airhead” whose tenuous grasp on free market economics sounded “stupid” to him.

When Trump refused to express support for Representative Paul Ryan’s budget proposal that reformed entitlement spending — very much an “establishment” Republican goal from an “establishment” Republican officeholder — Levin savaged the real estate developer for spouting the same vacuous platitudes he spouts today. When Trump advised Ryan to “sit back and relax” on the issue of entitlements, Levin reprimanded him furiously. “Apparently all your supporters are going to give you a pass on every damn thing you’ve ever said or done,” Levin exclaimed. “But not me.” What changed? Trump certainly hasn’t.

One of Levin’s radio colleagues, the accomplished radio host and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham, appears equally blinded by frustration with congressional Republicans. “Trump filled a vacuum existing in GOP,” she said in praise of his willingness to attack “Bushism” and congressional Republicans. “Prediction: Trump numbers will not change — could go up after McCain dust-up. Establishment approval will go down.”

That’s a bizarre prediction, considering the pollster in the field on Sunday after Trump’s insulting remarks about Senator John McCain’s service record noted that the candidate who drew nearly 30 percent support over the weekend was down in the single digits after those comments generated publicity.

“So Trump won’t commit to supporting GOP nominee if not chosen,” Ingraham said of Trump’s refusal to rule out a third-party bid for the White House. She asked if Senator Marco Rubio or former Governor Jeb Bush would support Trump if he secured the requisite delegates, but she must know that there is a rather substantial distinction between not supporting a party’s nominee and actively trying to handicap him or her.

Even the astute Rush Limbaugh has succumbed to the passions of the moment. “The American people haven’t seen something like this in a long time,” Limbaugh said in praise of Trump’s refusal to apologize for questioning McCain’s record as a North Vietnamese hostage. “They have not seen an embattled public figure stand up for himself, double down, and tell everybody to go to hell.”

“Trump can survive this,” Limbaugh averred. He’s right, but only as long as Trump can count on the help of his friends in the GOP’s entertainment wing.

All the while, Hillary Clinton is relishing the attention she isn’t getting. The New York Times reported that Clinton’s team is weighing how best to give the GOP what it wants and inexorably link Trump, a doctrinaire liberal and Democratic donor, to the Republican Party. Reporting on its own poll of Republican primary voters, ABC News described those of his supporters who are most incensed over the issue of illegal immigration in America “nativists.” The conservatives behind the microphone in this country know exactly what’s happening here. While the Republican Party brass should welcome the chance to repudiate a vile self-promoting pretender like Trump, the conservative movement’s most booming voices seem intent on rendering that effort impossible.

Making one’s way in the business of political entertainment is incredibly difficult. Those who are successful in that profession have achieved their position only after dogged perseverance, years of hard work, and repeated displays of inborn aptitude. No one gets to where these and other accomplished personalities are today unless they are possessed of great talent, prudence, and a wealth of knowledge on history and civics, which makes this whole affair all the more demoralizing. Those who continue to prop up this faltering carnival act based on the mistaken premise that it somehow advances conservatism are making a grave error. All that is being advanced are individual careers. The Americans who truly count on the conservative program to better their lives and right the course this country is on are those who will suffer the most if Trump is allowed to indelibly tarnish their movement.

 

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American Democracy and Donald Trump’s Inevitable Collapse

Are the obituaries the mainstream media are publishing for Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy premature? That’s the line Trump apologists are bound to take today as the fallout over his attempt to question whether Senator John McCain is a war hero continues. The kerfuffle over Trump’s branding of most illegal immigrants from Mexico as rapists and drug dealers only endeared him further to a sizeable portion of potential Republican primary voters. They shared his anger about a porous border and instinctively distrusted the herd mentality of media and business figures that rushed to label him a political untouchable. But the real estate mogul turned reality star and his backers should not labor under the delusion that he will get a similar pass for his egregious comment about McCain even if he is getting some support from the likes of Rush Limbaugh, whose antipathy for the conventional wisdom of the day appears to be overwhelming his normally sound political instincts and judgement. If his bid is, as our Pete Wehner wrote on Sunday, “toast,” then the moral of the story isn’t so much about the sheer nastiness and lack of character that Trump demonstrated when he made that remark and then doubled down on it, as it is the way the democratic process has of sorting out the political wheat from the chaff. While many observers on both the left and the right, often speak as if the voters are fools that are easily manipulated by media puppet-masters, Donald Trump’s inevitable collapse will illustrate the ability of the American public to sort out the presidential race.

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Are the obituaries the mainstream media are publishing for Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy premature? That’s the line Trump apologists are bound to take today as the fallout over his attempt to question whether Senator John McCain is a war hero continues. The kerfuffle over Trump’s branding of most illegal immigrants from Mexico as rapists and drug dealers only endeared him further to a sizeable portion of potential Republican primary voters. They shared his anger about a porous border and instinctively distrusted the herd mentality of media and business figures that rushed to label him a political untouchable. But the real estate mogul turned reality star and his backers should not labor under the delusion that he will get a similar pass for his egregious comment about McCain even if he is getting some support from the likes of Rush Limbaugh, whose antipathy for the conventional wisdom of the day appears to be overwhelming his normally sound political instincts and judgement. If his bid is, as our Pete Wehner wrote on Sunday, “toast,” then the moral of the story isn’t so much about the sheer nastiness and lack of character that Trump demonstrated when he made that remark and then doubled down on it, as it is the way the democratic process has of sorting out the political wheat from the chaff. While many observers on both the left and the right, often speak as if the voters are fools that are easily manipulated by media puppet-masters, Donald Trump’s inevitable collapse will illustrate the ability of the American public to sort out the presidential race.

Let’s concede that the popularity of Trump is based on more than the name recognition that comes with both wealth and a popular television show. His good poll numbers are the product of his willingness to say outrageous things and to position himself as outside the regular political process. While his isn’t the only candidacy rooted in the idea that the voters are hungering for a non-politician, Trump’s notoriety, instinctive populism, and impulsive willingness to say whatever is on his mind makes him a magnet for the disaffected and disillusioned regardless of the merit or the consistency of any of his positions. Saying aloud whatever such voters are thinking at any given moment is neither a sign of wisdom or statesmanship but it would be obtuse to deny Trump’s raw political talent.

But no one should think Trump’s likely decline in the coming weeks will be an accident of fate. It was inevitable that Trump would eventually say something that even most conservatives would abhor. But it was also inevitable that once his comments and his record started getting the sort of scrutiny that goes with a presidential race, even some of that rationalized his illegal immigration remarks would abandon him.

That isn’t because the establishment is working its way with the press or that he is being taken out of context or unfairly criticized. Rather, it is merely the normal function of American democracy in which thoughtless extremism and gutter character assassination is always going to be seen as not keeping with the sort of behavior we expect in presidents.

Many conservatives rightly lament the way the same liberal media failed in 2008 to hound Barack Obama over some outrageous statements he made and his radical associations the way they would a conservative with similar liabilities. But the reason Obama won had less to do with media bias than his ability to act like a president in the midst of a tough race against a Clinton machine that was willing to fight dirty. His presidential temperament was not a substitute for an ability to govern but, along with the good feelings generated by the historic nature of his candidacy, it distracted most voters from his extreme agenda that was only revealed in office. Yet both our political process and the basically moderate nature of both most voters inevitably gives a boost to those candidates who understand that the exercise of great power requires more than sound bytes. They must act as if they understand the gravity of the responsibilities to which they aspire whether they actually do so or not.

As Obama’s victories demonstrated, that doesn’t ensure that we won’t elect bad presidents. But the genius of American democracy is such that candidates that are obviously unqualified to even pretend to the presidency are usually discarded long before even the nomination races heat up. If you don’t believe me about that, then ask President Michele Bachmann who seemed to be riding a wave of populist enthusiasm exactly four years ago before crashing and burning as voters — and journalists — learned more about her and heard more of her foolish statements that marked her as someone who had no business being considered for the post of leader of the free world.

Conservatives often lament with good reason the bias of a mainstream media that seeks to take out their candidates with hit pieces and prejudiced coverage. But no matter how much the process of scrutinizing candidates may be distorted by the prejudices of many in the press, not even their skewed reporting can deceive American voters for long about the essential nature of those in the race.

While he retains the capacity to harm the Republican Party’s more viable presidential candidates by focusing all attention on his gaffes and may yet do even more damage as a potential third party candidate, Trump could not hide in plain sight for long. Say what you will about the influence of money or a biased press. Denounce a nomination process that has turned into a four-year marathon if you like. But what we are witnessing is something that is natural to American politics and highly commendable. Long before the parties choose their nominees, candidates like Trump will be found out and discarded by the overwhelming majority of voters. Even if the polls are still looking positive for Trump before they take into account the McCain comments, those inclined to doubt the future of American democracy should have more faith in the American people.

 

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Anti-Israelism and Anti-Semitism in South Africa

The student anti-Israel movement in South Africa is more extreme than most. In February, the student government at the Durban University of Technology called for the expulsion of Jewish students, particularly supporters of Israel. In March, the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) responded to a protest in which the lives of Jews were threatened by denouncing the presence of the Community Security Organization, whose purpose is to protect Jews and who were cooperating with local police. The COSAS called the South African Board of Jewish Deputies, an organization that represents South Africa’s Jews, “the Jewish ISIS” that “threatens our sovereignty through, illegal [sic], mercenaries, militia and invasion.” They hastened to add that they had nothing against Jews, but only against those who have long represented them in South Africa, and concluded with this flourish: “Away racist Jewish deputies away!” Read More

The student anti-Israel movement in South Africa is more extreme than most. In February, the student government at the Durban University of Technology called for the expulsion of Jewish students, particularly supporters of Israel. In March, the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) responded to a protest in which the lives of Jews were threatened by denouncing the presence of the Community Security Organization, whose purpose is to protect Jews and who were cooperating with local police. The COSAS called the South African Board of Jewish Deputies, an organization that represents South Africa’s Jews, “the Jewish ISIS” that “threatens our sovereignty through, illegal [sic], mercenaries, militia and invasion.” They hastened to add that they had nothing against Jews, but only against those who have long represented them in South Africa, and concluded with this flourish: “Away racist Jewish deputies away!”

It is, therefore, no surprise that the South African Students Congress (SASCO) has gotten into the act by suspending three student members for visiting Israel on a trip sponsored by the South Africa Israel forum. “We view an act by some of our members to visit Israel as crossing the picket line.” This move is more surprising than it seems. As offensive as boycotts like the one adopted by the American Studies Association are, no one there has proposed to discipline members who buck it. SASCO on the other hand, wishes “to state categorically that SASCO is a voluntary organization where members join and subordinate themselves to its constitution, its policies, and its resolutions. Therefore [they] urge all [their] members to respect, defend and advance all decisions of the organization without exception.” SASCO may be an extreme organization, officially aiming to “ensure the destruction of capitalist relations of production and the ushering of a socialist society.” But it is by no means marginal; Haaretz calls it the “biggest South African student organization.”

There is no adult in the room here. Obed Bapela, a deputy minister for Performance, Monitoring, and Evaluation in the President’s office, has said that the ruling African National Congress will investigate the students for bringing the ANC into “disrepute” Bapela, by the way was present at the February protest I mentioned, in which the crowd chanted, among other things, “You Jews do not belong here in South Africa.”  Bapela apparently had no problem with that, but did find time to complain of the “foreign force” brought in by the South African Board of Jewish Deputies, reminding the crowd that “South Africa is our country.”

Not all critics of Israel, even harsh critics, are anti-Semitic, but there can be no question about the running together of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiment in South Africa, a nation in which, according to the Anti-Defamation League, 50 percent of respondents to its survey on attitudes toward Jews agreed that “People hate Jews because of the way Jews behave.” Let’s try to remember that the next time South Africa’s leaders try to school us on solidarity.

 

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Israeli Arms Bribe Doesn’t Answer Iran Concerns

Seeking to undermine claims that it is harming Israel’s security with a weak Iran nuclear deal, the Obama administration is preparing to offer the Jewish state an unprecedented “military compensation” package. According to Israel’s Channel 2, the effort is intended to redress any damage the Iran pact will have on Israel’s qualitative military edge over its foes and was broached in a phone conversation between National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Israeli President Shimon Peres. But the dialogue about what is, in effect, an effort to bribe Israel with weapons, speaks volumes about the way the White House is seeking to execute an end run around both Congress and the Israeli government in its effort to get the Iran pact ratified. The conversation was an attempt to bypass Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who had a point yesterday when he asked a pertinent question about the report. If the deal makes Israel safer, as President Obama claims, why would it require military compensation to deal with its aftermath?

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Seeking to undermine claims that it is harming Israel’s security with a weak Iran nuclear deal, the Obama administration is preparing to offer the Jewish state an unprecedented “military compensation” package. According to Israel’s Channel 2, the effort is intended to redress any damage the Iran pact will have on Israel’s qualitative military edge over its foes and was broached in a phone conversation between National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Israeli President Shimon Peres. But the dialogue about what is, in effect, an effort to bribe Israel with weapons, speaks volumes about the way the White House is seeking to execute an end run around both Congress and the Israeli government in its effort to get the Iran pact ratified. The conversation was an attempt to bypass Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who had a point yesterday when he asked a pertinent question about the report. If the deal makes Israel safer, as President Obama claims, why would it require military compensation to deal with its aftermath?

Savvy observers know the answer to his rhetorical question. The president knows that no amount of arms transfers to Israel can possibly make up for the enormous boost that the nuclear deal gives Iran. The lifting of sanctions will enrich Tehran to the point that it will not only enhance Iran’s conventional arms but, more importantly, will increase its ability to foment and aid terror against Israel by its Hezbollah auxiliaries and Hamas ally. Indeed, Wendy Sherman, the lead U.S. negotiator with Iran, confirmed that the Israeli government has rebuffed American efforts to start talks about an arms deal specifically because they know that such an effort is a ploy aimed at silencing criticism of the pact with Tehran.

While Israel has very specific military needs for which it must look to the United States for help, the entire point of any such arms sale or aid package is not aimed at enhancing the alliance between the countries and everything to do with making it easier for Democrats to vote with the president on Iran.

Let’s be frank. If the U.S. military package were to include Massive Ordinance Penetrator (or MOP) bombs, then perhaps the administration could claim that Israel was being provided with the means to defend itself against the Iranian threat. The 15-ton bombs that can reportedly penetrate through 200 feet of earth and 60 feet of concrete were presented as the Pentagon’s “Plan B” that gave credibility to the notion that the U.S. was prepared to use force should the nuclear talks fail. But, as the course of the negotiations proved, President Obama was never prepared to threaten Iran and would instead make concession after concession on vital issues to Tehran in order to get a deal at any price.

However, the odds are, the MOP will not be part of any package of arms offered Israel. Even if it were, the nature of the nuclear deal is such that the U.S. has offered Iran a virtual guarantee against any foreign interference with its nuclear infrastructure, making any Israeli attack on the Islamist regime’s facilities virtually impossible.

As former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren noted in his recent book Ally, the administration has often used aid to the Jewish state as a political weapon intended to tie its government’s hands. Assisting the development and funding of purely defensive systems aimed at stopping rocket attacks on Israeli cities is vital to the country’s security even if the White House also thought of it as a way of deterring Israeli counter-offensives against Hamas rocket launchers. But there is no package of weapons or amount of aid that can possibly offset the edge that Iran is getting from a deal that boosts its economy as well as giving it an eventual path to a bomb once the restrictions expire.

Nor is there much sense in the arguments being made that the nuclear deal actually boosts Israel’s security because of the ten or 15-year waiting delay until an Iranian bomb is better than any pause that would result from a military attack. As even a proponent of this flimsy point of view like Chuck Freilich, who wrote yesterday in the New York Times on the subject, concedes the agreement doesn’t address Iran’s support for terror, provides little in the way of actual transparency via inspections and makes the re-imposition of sanctions highly unlikely under virtually any circumstances. Rather than a knockout of the nuclear threat, all the U.S. and Israel have gotten is a “punt” with Iran clearly determined to get a weapon at some point in the not-too-distant future.

The administration has set up a circular argument that claims there is no alternative to the deal because the sanctions regime will collapse if Congress rejects the deal. But the only reason that is true is because Obama has signaled the world that he will not provide the U.S. leadership against the Iranian threat that is necessary for success in any effort to prevent a regime bent on regional hegemony from achieving its goals. The alternative is a tough policy that could stop rather than enable Iran’s nuclear project.

Freilich says that as the “junior partner” in the alliance, Israel must simply say “enough” even if it knows that Obama’s deal undermines the very foundation of its security. Israel is certainly the junior partner and there is some sense to knowing how far to push a friend. But what he misses is that the Iran deal isn’t merely about a pause before an Iranian nuke. It is, as even America’s Arab allies like Saudi Arabia now understand to their sorrow, the lynchpin to a fundamental re-ordering of U.S. policy in the Middle East that strengthens new “friend” Iran at the expense of America’s friends, most specifically Israel. The new Iran-centric Obama foreign policy legacy is a crucial tipping point in a struggle to undermine the U.S.-Israel alliance. That is why Israelis and Israel’s friends in the United States in both the Republican and Democratic parties must not be deceived by any arms offers to Israel.

 

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The United States of Self-Doubt

America failed Robert Zubrin. The aerospace engineer and co-developer of the unrealized Mars Direct proposal to send Americans to the red planet within a reasonable timeframe and NASA’s existing budget was quite nearly radicalized by the paralytic introspection of the agency he loved. Zubrin evolved from advocate for Mars exploration to evangelist in favor of NASA’s reform following his confrontation with the soul-crushing bureaucracies that administer manned spaceflight in the United States. America never went to Mars. Today, on the 46th anniversary of Apollo 11’s triumph, its celebration feels hollow. America no longer leads the way into space. She doesn’t even have a vehicle to get astronauts into orbit. Americans no longer seem intrigued by what might be possible. Instead, they fear it. The unknown that was once so inviting is now forbidding. In the mistaken pursuit of a paradise on Earth, America has ceded the heavens. Read More

America failed Robert Zubrin. The aerospace engineer and co-developer of the unrealized Mars Direct proposal to send Americans to the red planet within a reasonable timeframe and NASA’s existing budget was quite nearly radicalized by the paralytic introspection of the agency he loved. Zubrin evolved from advocate for Mars exploration to evangelist in favor of NASA’s reform following his confrontation with the soul-crushing bureaucracies that administer manned spaceflight in the United States. America never went to Mars. Today, on the 46th anniversary of Apollo 11’s triumph, its celebration feels hollow. America no longer leads the way into space. She doesn’t even have a vehicle to get astronauts into orbit. Americans no longer seem intrigued by what might be possible. Instead, they fear it. The unknown that was once so inviting is now forbidding. In the mistaken pursuit of a paradise on Earth, America has ceded the heavens.

For a brief moment, Americans were treated to a bit of that pioneering spirit that propelled a handful of men into unexplored space in the 1960s last week when the New Horizons probe successfully charted the Pluto system. A probe launched in 2006 encountered its destination on the edge of our solar system nearly 10 years later within 90 seconds of its predicted arrival. The data it returned has proven invaluable: Vast, featureless plains indicative of potential volcanic activity beneath the surface; great mountains composed primarily of water ice; a polar cap packed with methane and nitrogen. It was a monumental but also a melancholy moment. As New Horizon drifted on into deep space, it began to dawn on observers that the probe’s incredible success – building on that of other explorer probes like Cassini and Galileo – heralds the dawn of the robots.

In 2018, the European Space Agency will send a new rover to Mars to examine its soil. NASA hopes to follow that up with an automated spacecraft that will maneuver an asteroid into orbit around the moon. The ESA will launch a probe in 2022 that will travel to the Jovian system and focus extensively on charting Jupiter’s moons – the most exciting of which is Europa, which is believed to hold a vast ocean of liquid water just below its icy surface. 2018 will see the launch of a new solar obiter and a new orbital telescope, too. At some point in the mid 2030’s, NASA hopes to press the Orion spacecraft vehicle into service after a series of manned test flights that are slated to begin in 2021.

But Zubrin knows all too well the political perils of planning missions into space on a generational timescale. In 2004, George W. Bush pledged in his State of the Union address to back and fund a new series of manned missions to the moon that would, by 2020, yield the first extraterrestrial human colony. That lunar base would then be used as a staging point to get mankind to Mars. But the project was never fully funded by Congress. The project was all but dead when Barack Obama submitted a budget proposal in 2010 that delivered the coup de grâce.

What does that say for future manned exploration of our solar system? Do Americans no longer have the stomach for expeditions to new worlds? Perhaps. What killed Mars Direct was, according to Zubrin, the fact that his proposal utilized so few of NASA’s pet projects. He points to a boondoggle NASA report called the “90-Day Study” as evidence to support his contention: The sprawling 1989 plan for human exploration of the moon and Mars was designed to satisfy every department head, ever project manager. The price tag, $450 billion over 20 years, was a nonstarter. NASA executives contend that Zubrin’s proposal glossed over and underestimated the challenges of a Mars mission, and that is quite possibly true. But Zubrin’s critique of NASA’s culture rings true. Experts claim that we might yet see a manned mission to the fourth planet in our solar system by the mid-2030s, wrote Science.com’s Miriam Kramer, but only “if the space agency’s budget is restored to pre-sequestration levels.”

“To be able to make it feasible and affordable, you need a sustainable budget,” said Explore Mars Inc.’s Chris Carberry. “You need a budget that is consistent, that you can predict from year to year and that doesn’t get canceled in the next administration.” But that’s politically infeasible. Budgets are not carved into stone, and one Congress or president is not beholden to the priorities of the last. Budgetary outlays for multi-year projects, much less those that sprawl over decades, are the ripest of targets for politicians with more contemporaneous concerns. If it is to be done, the Mars mission must be made a mandate that is realizable within a decade.

The risk aversion that disguises itself as prudence that forces America’s astronauts to hitch rides to the international space station aboard Russian rockets is not unique to one political party. Both Democrats and Republicans struggle to justify the peril and expense of sending Americans to other worlds or even back to the moon. But the benefits of exploring another planet on the ground extend well beyond the tangible discoveries that could be made there, which are not limited to determining once and for all if a second genesis occurred in our solar system. Zubrin contends that a new era of manned exploration of space would provide America with a new generation of scientists.

“Learn your science and you can pioneer a new world. Develop your mind and you can be a hero for humanity,” he claimed, “doing something that has never been done before, seeing things that no one has seen before, building where no one has built before.” A new space program of the kind Kennedy envisioned would recruit students to focus on STEM-related studies like nothing else.

Nearly a half-century after Americans first went to the moon; the country is once again shackled to Earth’s bonds. There is no grand vision that compels mankind to look to the stars. Instead, we are told that there are problems at home that are more deserving of our focus. Conservatives would contend that private firms are better suited to pick up where NASA has left off. Democrats might claim that space exploration and its associated technological benefits is a great project worthy of a great nation, but so, too, are universal health care or federally-funded pre-kindergarten education programs. Both attitudes would indefinitely consign mankind to its rocky cradle.

There is still a place for NASA. There is still something in the human spirit, and the American spirit in particular, that longs to forge new paths into uncharted territory. The hidebound scolds who, either in service to prudence or self-doubt, would force Americans to watch a China-led moon mission from the comfort and safety of their homes would condemn them to a life in a gilded cage. We celebrate the success of the men who traveled to the moon in 1969 today, but the revelry is muted. Quietly and only to ourselves, we wonder if such glories are no longer meant for us. But they are. Human beings, Americans, aspire to more; all they lack is a visionary with a plan.

 

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Iran and the Hubris of Appeasement

Following through on its strategy of trying to make Congressional approval of the Iran nuclear deal irrelevant, the Obama administration pushed through a resolution implementing the agreement today at the United Nations Security Council. Both Congressional Republicans and Democrats attacked that move, but that did not deter the president and his foreign policy team from following through on their plan to make an end run around Congress. This arrogant slight to the legislative branch will add fuel to the fire of critics of the Iran pact as they push to shame Democrats into making good on their past promises to insist on an agreement that would, at the very least, live up to the administration’s past promises about inspections and transparency. Yet even in the face of this presidential chutzpah and staggering betrayal of principle, the odds still heavily favor his effort to get the necessary votes from his party to sustain this strategy. Thus, while those Democrats who view their campaign pledges about both the Iranian threat and the security of Israel as still binding should be focusing on the gaping holes in the agreement, they should also ponder the presidential hubris that is at the core of this effort to marginalize their Constitutional obligation to weigh in on the most important foreign treaty signed by the United States. Read More

Following through on its strategy of trying to make Congressional approval of the Iran nuclear deal irrelevant, the Obama administration pushed through a resolution implementing the agreement today at the United Nations Security Council. Both Congressional Republicans and Democrats attacked that move, but that did not deter the president and his foreign policy team from following through on their plan to make an end run around Congress. This arrogant slight to the legislative branch will add fuel to the fire of critics of the Iran pact as they push to shame Democrats into making good on their past promises to insist on an agreement that would, at the very least, live up to the administration’s past promises about inspections and transparency. Yet even in the face of this presidential chutzpah and staggering betrayal of principle, the odds still heavily favor his effort to get the necessary votes from his party to sustain this strategy. Thus, while those Democrats who view their campaign pledges about both the Iranian threat and the security of Israel as still binding should be focusing on the gaping holes in the agreement, they should also ponder the presidential hubris that is at the core of this effort to marginalize their Constitutional obligation to weigh in on the most important foreign treaty signed by the United States.

That arrogance was on display yesterday as Secretary of State John Kerry and Energy Secretary made the rounds of the Sunday morning talk shows. Their blithe assurances about the deal make the U.S. safer could be dismissed as mere hyperbole but their insistence that there is “no such thing in arms control as anytime, anywhere,” inspections of nuclear sites is not only a lie. It is also a direct contradiction of their past pledges on the issue. Indeed, Moniz specifically said, “We expect to have anywhere, anytime access” to Iranian military sites in April during an interview with Bloomberg. Kerry has been navigating a similar zigzag course on a host of other issues regarding the deal including that about Tehran coming clean on past military nuclear research.

We can and should continue to focus on these specifics during the course of the debate about the Iran deal. But the main point to be understood here is that no evidence about the weakness of the deal, its failure not only to stop Iran’s nuclear program but the ways in which it makes it stronger and more likely to eventually build a weapon will ever be sufficient to answer the administration. That’s because the motivation of Obama and Kerry and their minions are not merely wrongheaded notions about non-proliferation or misplaced faith in Iran’s intentions but rather a hubristic belief in their ability to change history.

Obama and Kerry can mislead the nation about the sunset provision in the agreement that will make it possible for Iran to proceed to a weapon with little interference after it expires because they think with this stroke they have transcended the petty details that encumber those who deal with real world facts about despotic religious states like Iran. Iran’s ability to either easily evade the deal’s restrictions or to patiently wait for them to end doesn’t give the president or the secretary pause because their object in these negotiations wasn’t merely a nuclear deal but an attempt to restructure American foreign policy in a way that would end decades of enmity with the Islamist state and give birth to a new détente with Iran.

That’s why at every point during two and a half years of negotiations with Iran the administration steadily gave ground. The point of the talks wasn’t merely bridging gaps between the two sides but an obvious belief that the details weren’t as important as the mere act of negotiation and agreement. The president came into office pledging amity for the Iranian regime and never truly deviated from it even as both Iran’s obstinacy and Congress forced him to accept sanctions that the White House never wanted. Iran’s refusal to give ground on each issue was rationalized not because it made sense to do so but because it was required if Obama was going to have his entente with Tehran.

Analogies to past efforts at appeasing dictators inevitably fall afoul of the problem of comparing any country — no matter how awful — with the Nazis and the Holocaust. But the point of comparison is not so much any supposed similarities between the two regimes as it is to the way in which those who sought to appease them consciously denied facts and arrogantly believed that their good intentions, desire for peace and vision for a world that would eschew conflict transcended what they saw as the small-minded and war-mongering attitudes of their critics. Tough-minded diplomacy — the real alternative to Obama and Kerry’s appeasement rather than war — would not have been as satisfying to these men.

It is that belief in his own righteousness that sustains President Obama as he lies to the American people about inspections, snap-back sanctions, the way the deal expires, and his belief that Iran will become “less aggressive, less hostile more cooperative” and “to operate the way we expect nations in the international community to behave” even after he will have given international approval to its nuclear program, enriched it, given it access to arms, and treated its support for terrorism and building of ballistic missiles as unimportant details. This foolishness is not merely a matter of bad judgment. This sort of epic folly is only the product of a hubris that sees such minor matters as insignificant when compared to the chance to make history.

Given the pull of partisan loyalties and the still potent hold of President Obama over many members of his party the chances of Congress stopping him are slim. But as those Democrats with troubled consciences over the choice facing them think about their votes, they would do well to understand that the root cause of this disaster isn’t merely a policy dispute but the conviction on the part of the president and his chief diplomat that the rules of history don’t apply to them. As it always does, the world may pay a terrible price in blood and treasure for appeasement on this scale.

 

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The Left’s Nuclear Fairy Tales

Before the stresses and strains associated with sitting behind the Resolute Desk had turned President Barack Obama’s hair grey, the president still paid homage to the childlike liberal fantasies with which he was preoccupied as a Chicago-based activist. When he still believed that his own force of personality could command the tides to recede, and while he maintained the adoration of a world happy to see anyone other than George W. Bush in the Oval Office, the president lent his support to that most prototypical of “progressive” goals: the rolling of the clock back to a time before mankind split the atom. The fantasy of “global nuclear zero” is a disquieting example of the left’s preference for comforting fictions. The nuclear accord this administration recently reached with the Islamic Republic of Iran has exposed the left’s steadfast refusal to appreciate the forces that govern nuclear deterrence and nonproliferation.  Read More

Before the stresses and strains associated with sitting behind the Resolute Desk had turned President Barack Obama’s hair grey, the president still paid homage to the childlike liberal fantasies with which he was preoccupied as a Chicago-based activist. When he still believed that his own force of personality could command the tides to recede, and while he maintained the adoration of a world happy to see anyone other than George W. Bush in the Oval Office, the president lent his support to that most prototypical of “progressive” goals: the rolling of the clock back to a time before mankind split the atom. The fantasy of “global nuclear zero” is a disquieting example of the left’s preference for comforting fictions. The nuclear accord this administration recently reached with the Islamic Republic of Iran has exposed the left’s steadfast refusal to appreciate the forces that govern nuclear deterrence and nonproliferation. 

In light of the ballyhooed Iran deal, President Barack Obama’s supporters should review a speech he delivered in Prague in April of 2009. It is a testament to this administration’s commitment to transforming soothing bromides into actionable policy.

“Some argue that the spread of these weapons cannot be stopped, cannot be checked – that we are destined to live in a world where more nations and more people possess the ultimate tools of destruction,” the president insisted, adopting his favored tactic of rejecting a “false choice” that the more seasoned among us would call opportunity costs. “Such fatalism is a deadly adversary.”

“If we believe that the spread of nuclear weapons is inevitable, then in some way we are admitting to ourselves that the use of nuclear weapons is inevitable,” Obama fretted. After issuing this bizarre pronouncement, Obama went on to declare that the United States would serve as an example of a nuclear state leading the way by unilaterally dismantling and failing to modernize its nuclear arsenal. As for present and aspiring nuclear states around the world, he advocated the strengthening of the international non-proliferation regime. “Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something,” he added. They’re laughing in Tehran.

Six months later, Obama would cancel a Bush-era deal with Poland and the Czech Republic to station radar and interceptor missiles there, angering the uniquely pro-American governments in those former Warsaw Pact states. Though he assured the Czechs in that fantastical speech that the United States nuclear umbrella would continue to keep them safe, the president has only allowed America’s nuclear deterrent to atrophy. Russia, China, India, and Pakistan are all engaged in the modernization and development of their strategic and tactical, low yield arsenals. In Moscow, financial constraints have compelled the Kremlin to rely heavily on these weapons as a crucial element of the Russian Federation’s defense doctrine.

Meanwhile, in America, nuclear scientists are departing for the private sector. Research into the development and effects of nuclear weapons is, as former Defense Nuclear Agency chief Robert Monroe wrote, “virtually nonexistent.” And programs aimed at developing next-generation delivery systems have stalled.

For the left, these are all welcome developments. A fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of mutual deterrence has led liberals to view the West’s defensive nuclear doctrine as needlessly provocative. Similarly, progressives are often at sea when confronted with the failure of toothless nuclear nonproliferation regimes. Obama insisted that the enforcement of nonproliferation demands that “words must mean something,” but talk is cheap. Only the cold calculus imposed on nation states by particular and existential national security threats, or the absence thereof, governs the spread of nuclear weapons technology.

Among the many concerns critics of the Iran deal have voiced is the likelihood that it leaves Iran a nuclear threshold state when it expires, presuming Iran does not violate the terms of the deal and race for nuclear breakout while the paralyzed international community looks on in horror. According to the deal’s liberal defenders, however, that’s not much of a concern. In fact, nuclear proliferation is no real threat at all. “Nuclear proliferation is a myth,” wrote Arash Heydarian Pashakhanlou in a piece republished in The New Republic. They’re laughing in Pyongyang.

“Proliferation, after all, means rapid spread. And whereas nuclear weapons have proliferated ‘vertically’, with existing nuclear states adding to their existing nuclear arsenals, there has not been a ‘horizontal’ nuclear weapons proliferation – that is, a fast spread of these weapons to new nations,” Pashakhanlou wrote. “On the contrary, nuclear weapons have spread slowly across the world.” He noted that 31 predominantly Western nations have the capability to develop a weapons program, but haven’t. What’s more, he noted that many other nations with similar capabilities have shelved or renounced nuclear weapons altogether. Bizarrely, he acts as though this was a natural phenomenon attributable to the laws of physics rather than the robust efforts of the American diplomatic and military sectors.

South Africa, Belarus, and Ukraine surrendered their nuclear stockpiles when and only when the perilous threat environment in their immediate neighborhood abated. Apartheid South Africa, fearing both its anti-Apartheid neighbor states and a Cuban-fueled communist insurgency sheltered in Angola, gave up its weapons program as the Soviet Union began to dissolve in 1991. Pretoria acceded to a comprehensive verification regime when it rejoined the African community following Mandela’s election. Ukraine and Belarus, founding members of the Commonwealth of Independent States treaty with Russia, surrendered their weapons in exchange for international security guarantees. Brazil and Argentina gave up their weapons programs only when the two nations put aside their historic animosities: a diplomatic coup culminating in the Treaty of Tlatelolco. But when the wave of democratization that crested in the mid-1990s began to recede, so did the progress toward reducing the number of nuclear states. The nuclearization of the Asian Subcontinent in the late 1990s is a testament to the forces that induce nations to go nuclear. When the perceived benefits outweigh the considerable costs, particularly when those benefits include self-preservation, no amount of gauzy appeals to common humanity will dissuade nations from developing a nuclear deterrent.

This measurable dynamic is why analysis that predicts a forthcoming era of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East is sound. Already, the signs they are right are apparent. In October, Egypt revealed plans to construct a 1,000-megawatt light-water reactor, sparking fears that Cairo’s 60-year-old nuclear weapons program (shelved temporarily following rapprochement with the West and Israel) could be revisited. Turkey, too, has begun constructing nuclear reactors with the assistance of a French-Japanese consortium. And officials in Saudi Arabia, an oil-rich state that has nevertheless contacted with South Korea to build indigenous nuclear reactors, have intimated that they may soon have a nuclear weapon program. That is, if Riyadh does not simply purchase off-the-shelf fissionable devices from Pakistan.

The left’s capacity for self-delusion, particularly where nuclear weapons are concerned, is limitless. The terms of the accord with Iran make that fact plain. But their faith in their own sophistry is incredibly dangerous, and it is making the world a more threatening place at a terrifying pace.

 

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