A Good Speech, Then a Bad News Cycle

Commentary podcast: The controversies involving the Yemen raid and Jeff Sessions swamp Trump's joint session address.

audio: https://soundcloud.com/commentarymagazine/commentary-podcast-a-good-speech-then-a-bad-news-cycle

On this week’s final podcast, we (meaning Noah Rothman, Abe Greenwald, and I) discuss how the positive reception of the president’s big speech was not undermined by him (for once) but rather by a series of leak-riddled articles trashing the Yemen raid, trashing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and suggesting Obamans scattered bits of intelligence trouble through the executive branch to leave a breadcrumb trail like Hansel and Gretel. Give a listen.

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A Good Speech, Then a Bad News Cycle

Must-Reads from Magazine

Sabotage

The nationalist wing in the White House has led the president astray.

Donald Trump’s most avid supporters are truly concerned. The president and his administration, they frequently contend, are being sabotaged.

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Turkey: Neither Enemy Nor Ally

Trump must set some boundaries for Turkey's president.

Two of America’s illiberal allies in the Muslim world have just received expressions of support from President Trump. He rolled out the red carpet at the White House for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt, and he rewarded President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey with a congratulatory phone call after Erdogan “won” an apparently rigged referendum enhancing his already vast power. But while both Sisi and Erdogan appear to be in Trump’s good graces, they have reacted in very different ways to the American support they are receiving.

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White House Daze and Campus Contempt

Commentary Podcast: The Trump administration on autopilot, and Berkeley under threat.

In the second of this week’s COMMENTARY podcasts, we ask whether the president might be relaxing into his job—and whether this means he knows now that he doesn’t have to fulfill every agenda item at once but can take them on over the course of the next four years. And then we delve into the horror on college campuses and the grudging acknowledgment by the mainstream media that things are bad for free speech there—which, of course, they blame in part on bad conservatives. Give a listen.

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Israel’s Wrongheaded Retreat on BDS

Anti-BDS efforts are essential, so they must be engaged seriously.

Regardless of whether you support or oppose a new law allowing Israel to bar entry to prominent supporters of anti-Israeli boycotts, one outcome was eminently predictable: Israel would lack the guts to enforce it even when doing so was most justified. That was amply proven by Wednesday’s decision to grant a one-year work visa to Human Rights Watch researcher Omar Shakir. By this decision, Israel eviscerated the one crucial point the law got right, despite the many it got wrong: You cannot wage an effective war on the BDS movement while giving the people behind it a pass. As the old truism goes, people are policy.

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Civilian Casualties in Airstrikes

How do you prevent civilian casualties when terrorists prefer them?

The Los Angeles Times has a major report on the number of civilians killed in airstrikes, both by the United States and its coalition partners in Mosul. Molly Hennessy-Fiske and W.J. Hennigan write:

A recent airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is believed to have caused more than 270 civilian deaths, a tragedy that provoked an international outpouring of grief and outrage. But the uproar over the March 17 deaths in the Jadidah neighborhood of Mosul masks a grim reality: Hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of other civilians have died in hundreds of airstrikes in Iraq and Syria during the war against Islamic State, and it appears likely that the vast majority of those deaths were never investigated by the U.S. military or its coalition partners. It also appears that the number of civilian casualties has risen in recent months as combat has shifted to densely populated west Mosul and the coalition has undertaken the heaviest bombing since the war began almost three years ago.

It is true that civilian deaths have increased, but the complaint that the United States must do more to investigate such deaths is misplaced for two reasons:

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