Allies and Protectorates

Carolyn Glick has an article up on her site, comparing how Netanyahu and Trudeau deal with Trump. It’s, as usual for her, factual and thought-provoking.

She starts by debunking the obviously flawed comparison of Kim Jong-un and Trudeau. One is obviously an enemy and the other an ally, however tense at the moment.

A much more apt, and enlightening, analysis would be to consider Trump’s disparate treatment of two allies — for instance, Trudeau and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Both Trudeau and Netanyahu lead U.S. allies. But whereas Trump and his advisors sharply rebuked Trudeau for his angry assault following the G-7 summit last week, Netanyahu and Trump enjoy close, intense, and mutually supportive ties. Far from attacking one another, Trump and Netanyahu consistently back one another up in their public statements.

What accounts for the disparity? More broadly, what does the disparity in treatment tell us about Trump’s expectations from foreign leaders? What does it teach us about his foreign policy outlook more generally? […]

Rather than side with Israel in its war against the Hamas terror regime, as all of his predecessors had done to varying degrees, Obama sided with Hamas and its state sponsors, Qatar and Turkey, against Israel.

Obama insisted that Netanyahu accept Hamas’s ceasefire conditions and walk away with no guarantee that Hamas would end its rocket and missile offensive against Israel.

Obama’s embrace of Iran and effective alliance with Hamas through Turkey and Qatar were the last straws for Israel.

But Obama’s behavior had not come as a surprise. Sensing, earlier on, where the wind was blowing, Netanyahu had already been working to sidestep Obama by developing an alliance with America’s other spurned Middle Eastern allies: Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia. Like Israel, these three regimes were mortally threatened by Iran. Like Israel —  indeed, to an even greater degree than Israel — these regimes viewed the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies and offshoots, including Hamas, as existential threats.

Like many (most probably) Americans I support Israel, which is no surprise to anyone here, nor will anyone here be surprised that his opposition to Israel had a considerable amount to do with my disgust for Obama. My support for KSA and Egypt is not on that level, but they are much preferable to the Moslem Brotherhood and Iran. Continuing:

As Obama insisted Israel accept the Turkish-Qatari ceasefire offer – that is, Hamas’s ceasefire conditions — Egypt, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia all sided with Israel against Hamas – and Obama. They rejected Hamas’s ceasefire conditions and embraced Israel’s positions entirely. Their stunning public support for Israel compelled Obama to walk back his pressure on Israel.

As for Iran, the Israel-Sunni operational alliance was important for two reasons. First, it empowered Netanyahu to defy openly Obama on the Iran nuclear deal. That defiance was expressed most powerfully when Netanyahu detailed the problems with the nuclear deal in an address to a special joint session of Congress in March 2015. Second, the operational ties between Israel and the Sunni Gulf states facilitated Mossad and other operations against Iranian plans and capabilities.

As Entous notes, in Netanyahu’s first meeting with Trump, which took place in September 2016 at the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, Netanyahu and Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer presented then-candidate Trump with Netanyahu’s vision of a new U.S. regional posture in the Middle East. Such a U.S. posture could be based on the U.S. leading the operational alliance that Netanyahu had developed with the Sunnis.

Entous writes that Trump’s campaign CEO, Steve Bannon, was “blown away” by their presentation. A former Trump advisor told Entous that the two Israelis “had thought this through – this wasn’t half-baked. This was well articulated and it dovetailed exactly with our thinking.”

According to Entous, the “advisor credited Netanyahu and Dermer with inspiring the new administration’s approach to the Middle East.”[…]

Trump’s close relationship with Netanyahu owes, then, to two things. First, by developing Israel’s ties with the Sunni Arab states, Netanyahu demonstrated that he is capable of acting to defend Israel and shared U.S.-Israeli interests, even without U.S. assistance. That showed Trump that Israel is an ally, not a protectorate of the U.S. — and that Netanyahu is a partner, not a burden, for the U.S. in the post-Obama Middle East.

Look what we have here; an American ally, actually several of them, taking the lead on a local problem, committing themselves to a solution, that they think acceptable to America, and asking us to help and perhaps lead while contributing substantially to their solution. And so they present a solution to Trump, which is not free of danger but is clearly thought through, workable, and a reasonable risk for America. That is a good ally.

Then there is Trudeau.

During the 2016 campaign, although Trump made abandoning Obama’s Iran nuclear deal and moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem key foreign policy goals, updating international trade deals was a much more significant campaign issue. And one of Trump’s central pledges to his voters was his vow to improve, or walk away from, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which President Bill Clinton had signed with Canada and Mexico. […]

Instead of seeking compromises that could advance the interests of both countries, or at a minimum limit the damage that new U.S. trade policies would cause the Canadian economy, Trudeau pretended away the issue — hoping, apparently, that Trump would disappear if Trudeau just ignored him.

Consequently, rather than engaging seriously with American negotiators — as the Mexicans are — Trudeau has added insult to injury by slapping progressive social engineering provisions regarding indigenous, gender, and worker rights onto Canada’s trade policies. Trudeau is apparently attempting to use bilateral trade to dictate the Trump administration’s social policy.

In other words, Trudeau has embraced posturing over substantive policymaking. Rather than presenting Trump with a deal that could make sense for the U.S. and Canada, Trudeau has presented himself as a progressive hero, standing up to the Left’s greatest enemy.

Given Trudeau’s behavior, it was just a matter of time before trade talks between Washington and Ottowa blew up. Canada’s leader offered Trump no alternative to confrontation.

The disparity between Trump’s treatment of Israel and Canada tells us two important things.

First, when Trump criticizes American allies for expecting the United States to defend them and pay for the privilege, he isn’t doing it to blow off steam. Trump believes that for alliances to be meaningful, they have to be alliances between independent states that come together to pursue common interests.

Yep, and quite a few American allies, including the UK, would be very wise to take heed of what is said here. This is a good read on Trump’s policy, and it is one backed by just about all of red state America. We are practical down-to-earth people. We have built the world’s most powerful economy backed by the world’s most powerful military in about 200 years, and we are proud of both and are unwilling to see our work undone.

I’d guess that if things do not change soon, America’s emphasis in Europe will change to the Visegrad countries and the Balts, to the detriment of western Europe and possibly NATO itself. Americans don’t really believe in the welfare state, still less do we believe we owe Europe much of anything. If anything, we resent that three times in the last hundred years, we’ve had to help save Europe from enemies of their own creation. “The Long War” some (not inaccurately) call it.

As long as the EU and Germany want to posture like world leaders while antagonizing we who pay the bills that allow them to do so, well, they can expect chilly weather in Washington, just like Trudeau can.

We like allies, we’re not that fond of unruly protectorates.

Carolyn sums up with this:

Trump’s actual doctrine is that the U.S. will help its allies and foes when they pursue goals the U.S. shares. And the U.S. will spurn allies – and enemies — who expect America to do their bidding as they mistake posturing for policymaking, and attitude for work.

Yep.

Do read her article at Unlike Netanyahu, Trudeau expects America to work for him. There is much that I didn’t cover.

 

 

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A Summit and a Communique

So we have a joint communique. It reads well, it says things that need to happen, and probably its covered in fine leather, the best. What does it mean?

Everything or maybe nothing at all. It’s much too early to tell. On July 5, 1776, Tom Jefferson’s Declaration was mostly a list of people George III thought should be hanged. Its high flown and moving words meant very little until made good in Patriot (and British) blood.

It’s a good start, and you can’t reach the finish if you don’t start. It starts from the fact that last year, the whole nuclear thing became real for Kim, and he got scared right out of his mind when he saw a glimpse of the real power of the United States, sword unsheathed, coming at him, with a president who really would let slip the dogs of war. And to fight through to victory, not some measly little-limited war.

Call it a near-death experience, cause that is pretty much what it was, those change people. Maybe it has here too, he’s a young man, long time left to enjoy life.

Melanie Phillips has as good a write up as I’ve seen.

As Trump himself has said, however, this is merely the start of a process. It has been suggested that his strategy is to reel Kim in over time like a big fish on a line, with every step towards denuclearisation being rewarded by another step in relieving sanctions. And that may be so.

Certainly, Trump’s over-the-top gushing over Kim should not be taken at face value. This was just part of the choreography for his grand theatre of negotiation. Nor do I think it credible that either he or his hawkish Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or even more hawkish National Security Adviser John Bolton could have failed to factor in the need for robust verification of the de-nuclearisation process and the difficulties in achieving that.

I was most interested by the body language between the two men, and also by something Kim said. Trump’s bombastic bonhomie seemed to me to signify the biggest beast in the jungle beating his chest to demonstrate his dominance; the more effusive the compliments, the louder the message that Trump could afford to be generous because the other guy had lost. It was not designed to make Kim look his equal. It was designed to humiliate.

That’s true, and I doubt it has much to do with Trump’s feelings (or lack thereof) for Kim. It’s a warning, to the Ayatollahs, to China, to the G7, to Putin, to all and sundry that the sheriff is watching them, and limited nonsense will be tolerated.

The only thing that has reduced American dominance in my lifetime is American non-leadership. America is still the worlds most powerful economy coupled with the worlds most powerful military just as it was in 1944. One is well advised to pay attention when such a one speaks.

And Trump is also right on Europe, there is very little support in America for continuing to support Europe, either militarily or economically. The Europeans have grown too arrogant, too sure of their entitlement, too lazy to defend themselves, and the people of America have noticed. Uncle Sugar is retiring. We’ll defend our friends, mostly the ones we restored from communism, and don’t want to go back, but that is close to the limit, and it just might be as anti-German as anti-Russian.

Melanie ends with this, and I think it a fair assessment.

The American strategy towards North Korea cannot be viewed in isolation from its strategy of isolating, weakening and ultimately destroying the Iranian regime. Tehran will be sweating that the outsourcing to Pyongyang of its nuclear weapons programme is not disrupted by the Trump/Kim negotiating process.

It cannot be sure. Trump’s policy of isolating Iran is already working. From being the unrivalled grandmasters of geopolitical chess, the Iranian regime now finds that the board and its pieces have been thrown up into the air by a vandal against the international order whose behaviour it cannot predict. And both China and Russia have already moved as a result to accommodate him.

Who knows where this will end? We cannot at present tell whether Trump will succeed or fail. But one thing seems indisputable: the assistance previously given by the US to the forces of utmost evil in the world has been stopped in its tracks. And only the most unhinged haters of this most extraordinary US President can deny that achievement.

Through a Glass Darkly

One of the most reliably astute observers of the world is Victor Davis Hanson, one of those rare people known by their initials: VDH, nearly universally. But even he varies some in the quality of his observations, from excellent to outstanding. This may be as good as anything I’ve read from anyone, anywhere.

The Post-War Order Is Over

Empirically speaking, neo-Ottoman Turkey is a NATO ally in name only. By any standard of behavior — Ankara just withdrew its ambassador from the U.S. — Turkey is a de facto enemy of the United States. It supports radical Islamic movements, is increasingly hostile to U.S. allies such as Greece, the Kurds, and Israel, and opposes almost every foreign-policy initiative that Washington has adopted over the last decade. At some point, some child is going to scream that the emperor has no clothes: Just because Turkey says it is a NATO ally does not mean that it is, much less that it will be one in the future.

Instead, Turkey is analogous to Pakistan, a country whose occasional usefulness to the U.S. does not suggest that it is either an ally or even usually friendly.

And, perhaps, as a new sense of realism invades Washington, the actions of the US may begin to match that reality.

There is nothing much left of the old canard that only by appeasing China’s mercantilism can there be a new affluent Chinese middle class that will then inevitably adopt democracy and then will partner with the West and become a model global nation. China is by design a chronic international trade cheater. Trade violations have been its road to affluence. And it seeks to use its cash as leverage to re-create something like the old imperial Japanese Greater East Asia co-prosperity sphere. U.S. trade appeasement of Beijing over the last decades no more brought stability to Asia than did nodding to Tokyo in the 1930s.

There is also nothing sacred about the European Union. It certainly is not the blueprint for any continental-wide democratic civilization — any more than Bonaparte’s rigged “continental system” (to which the EU is on occasion strangely and favorably compared to by its proponents). The often-crude imposition of a democratic socialism, pacifism, and multiculturalism, under the auspices of anti-democratic elites, from the Atlantic to the Russian border, is spreading, not curbing, chaos. The EU utopian mindset has altered European demography, immigration policy, energy production, and defense. The result is that there are already four sorts of antithetical EUs: a renegade and departing United Kingdom, an estranged Eastern European bloc worried over open borders, an insolvent South bitter over front-line illegal immigration and fiscal austerity, and the old core of Western Europe (a euphemism now for German hegemony).

Interesting to watch the EU, isn’t it? The original conception was indeed a United States of Europe, consisting mostly of (The New) Germany and France, with England fully allied to the United States (not a vassal state by any means, a partner). If I understand what I read, that was Churchill’s conception. But!

As for Germany, it is no longer the “new” model West Germany of the post-war order, but a familiar old Germany that now pushes around its neighbors on matters of illegal immigration, financial bailouts, Brexit, Russian energy, and NATO contributions, much as it used to seek to expand Prussia and the Sudetenland. German unification now channels more the spirit of 1871 than of 1989. Call the new German attitude “Prussian postmodernism” — a sort of green and politically correct intimidation. Likewise, in terms of the treatment of German Jews, Germany seems more back in the pre-war than in the post-war world.

As far as the U.S., Germany has redefined its post-war relationship with the America on something like the following three assumptions: 1) Germany’ right to renege on its promise to spend 2 percent of its GDP on defense in order to meet its NATO promises is not negotiable; 2) its annual $65 billion surplus with the U.S. is not negotiable; 3) its world-record-busting account surplus of $280 billion is not negotiable. Corollaries to the above assumptions are Germany’s insistence that NATO in its traditional form is immutable and that the present “free” trade system is inviolable.

Soon, some naïf is going to reexamine German–American relations and exclaim “there is no there.”

I think some naif just did, and in his exclamation was the words, It is unfair for the United States to subsidize the welfare state of these Prussians, and so tariffs to export to the United States will increase until they are equitable.

And that’s important, the Germans need to export that steel, and be defended by the US (and British) Army far more than either country needs to import Mercedes. There is only one outcome for Europe, the only declining market in the world, in a trade war with the United States: They lose, probably badly.

The West Bank’s rich Arab patrons now fear Iran more than they do Israel. The next Middle East war will be between Israel and Iran, not the Palestinians and their Arab sponsors and Tel Aviv — and the Sunni Arab world will be rooting for Israel to defeat Islamic Iran.

And I notice that in the last week, Russia is starting to tell Iran to pull back from the Israeli border, before Russia gets engulfed as well. Iran’s economy is essentially as bad as Venezuela’s, and sanctions haven’t even been reapplied yet. The Iranian truckers, taxi drivers, teachers and probably others are on strikes, the nationwide protest continues, and calls for a revolution have started.

Finally, we’re seeing the end of the old truism that the U.S. was either psychologically or economically so strong that it could easily take on the burdens of global leadership — taking trade hits for newly ascendant capitalist nations that ignored trade rules, subsidizing the Continental defense of an affluent Europe, rubber-stamping international institutions on the premise that they adhered to Western liberalism and tolerance, and opening its borders either to assuage guilt or to recalibrate a supposedly culpable demography.

Historic forces have made post-war thinking obsolete and thereby left many reactionary “experts” wedded to the past and in denial about the often-dangerous reality before their eyes. Worse is the autopilot railing for the nth time that Donald Trump threatens the post-war order, undermines NATO, is clueless about the EU, or ignores the sophisticated institutions that hold the world together.

About the only metaphor that works is that Trump threw a pebble at a global glass house. But that is not a morality tale about the power of pebbles, but rather about the easy shattering of cracked glass.

There’s quite a lot more at the link above, you should read it.

That is pretty much what I see as well. All is in flux as it hasn’t been since 1940, where it ends is hard to see, maybe impossible. But you know, I’m inclined to think that the American people, in electing Trump, have found the leader who sees a way to lead his people into the next epoch, whatever it brings, successfully.

If I’m right, it’s a good time to be a friend of America, if I’m wrong, there is likely a new dark age approaching. Yeah, its a time for Churchillian terms.

The Round up

Lots going on, let’s just look around today.

Bruce Bawer has written an excellent column on the Tommy Robinson fiasco for Gatestone.

  • The swiftness with which injustice was meted out to Tommy Robinson is stunning. No, more than that: it is terrifying.

  • Without having access to his own lawyer, Robinson was summarily tried and sentenced to 13 months behind bars. He was then transported to Hull Prison.
  • Meanwhile, the judge who sentenced Robinson also ordered British media not to report on his case. Newspapers that had already posted reports of his arrest quickly took them down. All this happened on the same day.
  • In Britain, rapists enjoy the right to a full and fair trial, the right to the legal representation of their choice, the right to have sufficient time to prepare their cases, and the right to go home on bail between sessions of their trial. No such rights were offered, however, to Tommy Robinson.

The ban on talking about Tommy’s case has been lifted, which is too little too late. The damage has been done to Britain’s reputation as a member of the free world. #FreeTommy.

Warsclerotic has a pretty good write up (I think) on the somewhat clarifying mess in Syria. Well worth reading.

Russia, too, is dealing with a public relations problem. It is trying to link a withdrawal of Iranian forces from the Syrian border with a withdrawal of US forces around al-Tanf–this was the location where Russian mercenaries got the snot beat out of them by US forces back in February. Without some sort of face-saving deal, Russian prestige will suffer and the Iranians will start thinking the Russians are looking for an exit. And they are.

What had started out as a venture to procure a Mediterranean port and supporting logistics facilities and airbases to project Russian naval power into the Eastern Med has become an oozing ulcer, costing Russia cash and lives.

None of this just happened. Leon Hadar has an interesting article in The National Interest called Trump’s Strategy for the Middle East Is Working. In it he juxtaposes the way Middle East crises used to work and the deft change of calculus made by Trump (I’m using Trump as a metaphor for his administration because guys like Mattis and Bolton and Pompeo have watched the Middle East for a while).

Ireland voted last week to allow pretty much-unrestricted abortions in the first trimester. As we know, from both the US and the UK, intentionally violating the right to life echoes around a countries morality and damages it in manifold ways. Too bad that Ireland decided to join the cesspit of Europe on this one.

In the US (which never voted for abortion), on the other hand, for the first time, it looks like there may be a real chance to overturn Roe v. Wade, the monstrosity that made abortion legal nationwide. That’s still a long shot, but more and more states are restricting abortion, often to where the heartbeat is detectable, my understanding is that is about 6 weeks. Not enough, but trending the right way. More here.

And we’re number 1 again. So says Bloomberg and the Switzerland-based IMD World Competitiveness Center. The Runners-up are Hong Kong, Singapore, Netherlands, and Switzerland.

Also: The US economy will remain strong for the next three years, 71% of global CFOs believe.

And: The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta is forecasting economic growth will exceed 4% for the current 2nd quarter of 2018.

A NorK terrorist general is in New York talking to the State Department about the upcoming (maybe) summit.

So, overall, the British Isles are sinking into the quagmire, but the eagle continues to climb.

Yeah, OK, #MAGA

Video Wednesday

These have been accumulating so lets watch them together, and clean out the files a bit.

Via The Conservative Woman, Thanks, Laura

Choosing Freedom or Terrorism

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R), France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (L), Germany Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (C), EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Britain’s Foreign Secretary arrive for a meeting of EU/E3 with Iran at the EU headquarters in Brussels on May 15, 2018. – Iran’s foreign minister said on May 15 that efforts to save the nuclear deal after the abrupt US withdrawal were “on the right track” as he began talks with European powers in Brussels. (Photo by Olivier Matthys / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read OLIVIER MATTHYS/AFP/Getty Images)

From the Free Beacon, in the biting off more than you can chew department.

European countries are currently examining a range of options to counter the reimposition of harsh U.S. sanctions on Iran in a bid to continue doing business with the Islamic Republic, a move that is being met with chilly reception on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are already putting in place measures to ensure that any European nation caught skirting U.S. sanctions faces harsh repercussions, according to a new policy paper being examined by lawmakers and viewed by the Washington Free Beacon.

European Union members are seeking to reimplement an old law known as the blocking statute, which orders European companies to ignore U.S. sanctions on Iran.

The move sets up a showdown between the United States and Europe over the future of business dealings with Iran in the wake of President Donald Trump’s decision to walk away from the landmark nuclear deal and reimpose wide-ranging and severe sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Iran opponents on Capitol Hill are already moving to respond, according to multiple sources who shared with the Free Beacon a newly developed policy memo that maps a plan for the United States to potentially sanction the European Investment Bank, or EIB, and cut its access to the U.S. financial system. The policy paper was written by Richard Goldberg, a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

“There is no statute that can save a European company from losing its access to the U.S. financial system,” the policy memo states. “European companies will not be willing to violate U.S. sanctions even with the revival of the blocking statute.”

European companies will be forced to make a choice between doing business with Iran and retaining access to the U.S. financial system.

“French President Emmanuel Macron Thursday conceded that European companies should be allowed to decide for themselves what to do without an EU order,” the memo notes. This suggests that whatever blocking statute is announced Friday will be largely symbolic.

Well, they can do what they want, I suppose, but it looks from here like a foolish move to anger the United States rather seriously in order to trade with the failed state of Iran.

But look, there’s more!

The Trump administration could invoke the 2013 Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act, a wide-ranging law that could be interpreted in such a manner that would sanction European companies for providing material support to the globe’s foremost state sponsor of terror.

The law “requires the president to block the assets of any person who knowingly provides financial or material support to any activity related to Iran’s port operators, its energy, shipping, and shipbuilding sectors, and any Iranian company or official listed on Treasury’s Specially Designated Nationals list,” according to the policy memo, which is being examined by multiple offices on Capitol Hill. “The Trump administration could interpret this section to apply to any EIB director who votes to provide such support—and to any member of the Management Committee who implements it.”

Administration insiders familiar with the United States’ efforts to ensure European nations cut ties with Iran told the Free Beacon the EU is fighting a losing battle to counter new U.S. sanctions.

“The Europeans are acting more like a Heaven’s Gate cult, locking arms and willing to eat the apple sauce rather than break off business with the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism,” said one source familiar with the strategy. “Treasury this week designated the governor of Iran’s central bank—does any European country think Treasury can’t designate their own central bank governor too?”

The real point here is that Israel is facing an existential threat, and Israel is very nearly as close an ally as Great Britain. If Germany and France want to anger the US real quick, well they found their issue. And it’s not Donald Trump, or at least not only Donald Trump, it is also the Congress, and yes, the people.

I said last week in a comment on a British blog, the Iran deal has the potential of being an issue where Europeans will have to decide between Iran and the United States permanently. One hopes they decide wisely, but one would be wise to not bet on it. Their delusions of importance seem to not only continue but to grow.

 

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