Disloyalty has its Rewards

So, was anybody paying attention surprised when Rex Tillerson got fired? I thought not. And pretty much for the reason, you thought, too. From the Free Beacon, via Ace.

It was Rex Tillerson’s job to go out to the European states and sell them on this.

Instead, of course, he walked back from what Trump was demanding and instead made softer offers he was never authorized to make — to appease Iran.

You know — gross insubordination of the actual chief foreign policy officer of the United States. And also, appeasement of Iran, in a way that the TruCon Crying Eagle Brigade like to pretend they’re opposed to.

The abrupt firing Tuesday of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson follows months of infighting between the State Department and White House over efforts by Tillerson to save the Iran nuclear deal and ignore President Donald Trump’s demands that the agreement be fixed or completely scrapped by the United States, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

In the weeks leading up to Tillerson’s departure, he had been spearheading efforts to convince European allies to agree to a range of fixes to the nuclear deal that would address Iran’s ongoing ballistic missile program and continued nuclear research.

While Trump had prescribed a range of fixes that he viewed as tightening the deal’s flaws, Tillerson recently caved to European pressure to walk back these demands and appease Tehran while preserving the deal, according to these sources. The Free Beacon first disclosed this tension last week in a wide-ranging report.

White House allies warned Tillerson’s senior staff for weeks that efforts to save the nuclear deal and balk on Trump’s key demands regarding the deal could cost Tillerson his job, a warning that became reality Tuesday when Trump fired Tillerson by tweet.

And you know, I’ve been around business all my life, never once have a known a boss who would tolerate one of his chief subordinates working directly opposite from his goal, it never has happened and it’s not going to. It just cannot be tolerated. There is a lot of room for discussion, even argument, about any plans, but once the decision is made, one is expected to get on board or quit, anything else is simply disloyal. Looks like Tillerson thought being loyal to Trump was somehow beneath him, well now he has no reason to be.

This was an interesting pick anyway if I understand correctly, he was recommended by Condi Rice. While I find her impressive in many ways, many of her foreign policy ideas do not jibe with mine, nor do I expect they do with President Trump’s either.

The Free Beacon also says that they reported on the Iran deal last week, and they indeed did. This is part of what they wrote:

Iran is undertaking a massive buildup of its ballistic missile program, sparking fears of a “second Holocaust” amid sensitive international negotiations that could see the Trump administration legitimize Iranian missiles capable of striking Israel, according to multiple sources familiar with ongoing diplomatic talks.

As the Trump administration and European allies continue discussions aimed at fixing a range of flaws in the landmark Iran nuclear deal, sources familiar with the progression of these talks say the United States is caving to European demands limiting restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program.

While the Trump administration went into the negotiations with a hardline stance on cutting off Iran’s ballistic missile program, it appears the United States [that is, Tillerson — ace] is moving closer in line with European positions that would only regulate a portion of the missiles.

Multiple sources with knowledge of the ongoing talks told the Washington Free Beacon U.S. officials [Tillerson] have been backpedaling on key demands originally proposed by President Trump in order to preserve the agreement and appease European allies who are eager to continue doing business with Tehran.

Senior Trump administration officials recently told the Free Beacon the United States is prepared to abandon the nuclear deal if European allies fail to address what it views as a range of flaws in the nuclear deal that have enabled Iran’s missile buildup and allowed it to continue critical nuclear research.

However, it appears the United States is losing ground in the talks, moving closer to the European position, which includes what insiders described as only cosmetic changes to the nuclear deal that fail to adequately address Iran’s massive missile buildup.

Yeah, does anybody really think Trump is going to sign onto a deal that makes Israel more vulnerable? Yeah, me neither. And if this is what our Secstate was agreeing to, and it appears it is, the firing was justified, for sheer disloyalty to his boss. Just plain got too big for his britches, and got swatted down for his trouble. In fact, it was long overdue, this turned out to be one of the worst choices Trump made, and in one of the most important slots.



Calling BS

I told myself that CPAC was over, it was all the GOPe, the never-Trumpers and all that. Probably you did as well, and as always there were some controversies. But there is also some really good stuff there. Yeah, like Dana Loesch, fresh from the fake news town hall, telling the legacy media how it’s going to be. Watch it, you’ll like it, and you’ll like what she says. I think you’ll be heartened by it, I was.


Incidentally, she talks a bit in there about how Social Media networks are having to change their algorithms because we have figured it out, and we are taking over. Well, we’ve had quite a few videos this week (for here, anyway) and not a single one of them could be found by WordPress’s youtube plugin. Might be a coincidence, of course, but I wouldn’t bet the ranch on it.

Along that line, Stacy McCain tells us that his account at Medium.com has been suspended. Why? Well, you get three guesses but the first two don’t count. Let him tell it:

On Feb. 14, I received this email from Medium.com:

We are writing to notify you that your Medium.com account is in violation of our rules, and your profile and posts will no longer be publicly available on Medium.

Medium exists to share and discuss ideas. We don’t tolerate harassment, which includes:

— Bullying, threatening, or shaming someone, or posting things likely to encourage others to do so
— Posting copies of private communications between private individuals without the explicit consent of all parties to the communication
–Doxing, which includes not only private or obscure personal information but also the aggregation of publicly available information to target, shame, blackmail, harass, intimidate, threaten, or endanger
— Using Medium features like responses, private notes, mentions, follows, story requests, or writer requests in a way intended to annoy or harass someone
— Posting intimate or explicit images taken or posted without the subject’s express consent

Related conduct
We do not allow posts or accounts that engage in on-platform, off-platform, or cross-platform campaigns of targeting, harassment, hate speech, violence, or disinformation. We may consider off-platform actions in assessing a Medium account, and restrict access or availability to that account.

Your work will remain accessible to you while signed in, and may be exported at any time by following the instructions here, but will appear as unavailable to others.
Your Medium membership, if you have one, will be cancelled and any remaining funds you may have prepaid will be returned to you.
Medium Trust & Safety

There was nothing in this email to describe how anything I had done had specifically violated these rules. So I sent them an email inquiring what content had caused this suspension, and what I might do to get my account reinstated. No answer. So I emailed again, and again. Nothing.

Anybody surprised? I didn’t think so.

But you know, it’s not too bad here yet, and the battle is truly joined, and as always, the Brits are slowly mobilizing as well, except of course, in Londonistan, which has been lost. But you know, not all that many years ago a great man said, in perfectly serviceable Anglo-Saxon words, “We shall fight on beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender …” And if Europe will survive or even the UK and the US, it will be up to us, the Anglo-Saxons to make it so. What was, is, and will be – we are the guarantors of liberty. Here’s another one of us.

And finally, a heroic Brit you probably won’t hear about on the BBC, but you will from American Conservatives. From Fox News.

An 88-year-old British military veteran tapped into his decades-old training to reportedly save a young woman from five knife-wielding thugs.

John Nixon, who fought in the Korean War, said he stepped in when he noticed five youths grab a woman’s handbag and clothes while walking down Raglan Street, in Kenthish Town, last month.

“My initial thoughts were to divert their attention away from the girl who was screaming. I shouted ‘leave her alone,’” he told the Evening Standard. “But they turned on me, saying ‘We’ll take your money instead,’ and I said, ‘No you don’t.’ Kids this age are full of bravado, you see, they weren’t expecting a surprise.”

Nixon said his military training kicked in and he fought back at one of the suspected thieves, slugging one in the neck.

“I disabled one but another pulled out a knife so I had to try and deal with him too,” he continued. “I tried to disarm him and in the process I got stab wounds here, there and everywhere. There was a lot of blood. He wasn’t trained and it was more of a pocket knife. Luckily my wounds were shallow.”

The robbers fled and Nixon was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Police officers applauded Nixon for the Jan. 27 attack, commending him for his “extraordinary bravery.”

Bravo Zulu, Sir!

The story notes that no arrests have been made, and no description of the perpetrators evident, at least in the story I saw, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as I have drawn mine.

A Turkey of a Mess

Jed Babbin over at The American Spectator has written about Turkey, and how it is increasingly becoming a bad fit with the US, especially when contrasted with the Kurds, who with our help have taken the lead in destroying ISIS.

[L]ast week, President Trump had what must have been a tense telephone conversation with Turkish President Erdogan. Erdogan’s forces are attacking Kurdish forces allied with America in the Afrin region of Syria. Erdogan has said his forces would pursue the Kurdish militias into Manbij, where U.S. forces are operating with the Kurds against the remnants of ISIS and Syrian forces.

That conversation led nowhere. Neither is Erdogan stopping the attacks against our Kurdish allies nor is Trump declaring them off-limits and promising to defend them. The fact that Trump isn’t ordering our forces to defend the Kurds is a confession of failure. It’s the result of thinking stalemated by the fact that one of our so-called allies — Turkey — has chosen to be at war with a real ally, the Kurds.

The Kurds are one of the many ancient peoples indigenous to the Middle East. About thirty million of them are spread over parts of northern Iraq, southern Turkey, Syria, Armenia, and Iran. A Kurdish autonomous zone of Iraq is rich with oil. But there is no nation of Kurdistan.

When Woodrow Wilson and the other victorious leaders of the allies that won World War One sat in Paris in 1919, carving up old empires and creating new nations, their announced goal was to create nations around self-governing peoples. One treaty created a Kurdish state and another signed shortly afterward dissolved it.

Since then U.S. relations with the Kurds have been an on again, off again affair. We supported Kurdish attempts to overthrow the Baathist regime of Iraq in the 1970s, withdrew support for most of the 1980s, but brokered a peace agreement between Kurdish factions in 1998.

The Kurds have suffered before and since. Typical was the March 1988 attack on the Kurdish city of Halabja by Saddam Hussein’s forces, using artillery and chemical weapons, that killed at least five thousand. We imposed a no-fly zone over Iraqi Kurdistan in 1991, enforced by U.S. and British aircraft.

When Turkey denied passage for U.S. troops entering Iraq in 2003, the Kurds tried to help. They have been an ally ever since.

Kurdish forces — usually characterized as militias but with far more skill, organization, and effectiveness — have been at the forefront of our fight against ISIS for over ten years.

Turkey has always feared and resented the Kurdish population on its southern border. It fears their drive for independence which, if effective, could carve out a large portion of southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq to create an independent Kurdistan.

None of what he wrote is, as far as I can see either untrue or unfair. It may be incomplete though. There is no rule that the US has to decide everything overtly, or that it should. Caroline Glick at Warsclerotic takes the same facts, and get to a somewhat different destination.

Last Saturday, Erdogan sent his forces over Turkey’s southern border to invade the Afrin region of Syria. The U.S.-allied Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) have controlled the area, northwest of Aleppo, since 2012.

There are no U.S. forces in Afrin. But the area is predominantly populated by non-Arab minorities, including Yazidis, Armenians, and Kurds — all of whom are pro-American.

The Turks say their objective in “Operation Olive Branch” is to seize a 20-mile wide buffer zone on the Syrian side of their border. That includes the town of Manbij, located 60 miles east of Afrin, also controlled by the YPG.

Unlike Afrin, there are many U.S. forces in that city. A contingent of U.S. Special Forces charged with training YPG forces are stationed there. On Tuesday, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu threatened those forces. “Terrorists in Manbij are constantly firing provocation shots,” he said, according to Reuters. “If the United States doesn’t stop this, we will stop this.”

Cavusoglu added, “The future of our relations depends on the steps the United States will take next.”

The Turks’ pretext for the Afrin operation is as anti-American as it is anti-Kurdish.

On January 14, Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the U.S.-led military coalition in Baghdad said that the U.S. is training a Kurdish border patrol force in Syria that will eventually number some 30,000 troops. On January 17, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. has no timetable for removing its forces from Syria.

In response, Erdogan vowed to “drown” the border protection force “before it is even born.”

Erdogan then threatened the U.S.

“This is what we have to say to all our allies: Don’t get in between us and terrorist organizations, or we will not be responsible for the unwanted consequences.”

The Trump administration’s immediate response to Turkey’s aggression against its Kurdish allies was deferential, to say the least.

Tillerson disavowed Dillon’s statement, saying the plan to train a border force was never approved.

“That entire situation has been misportrayed, misdescribed. Some people misspoke. We are not creating a border security force at all,” he said

A senior White House official told the New York Times that senior White House and National Security Council officials had never seriously considered the 30,000-man border force.

These statements are consistent with the U.S.’s general practice for the past 15 years, as Erdogan has gradually transformed Turkey from a Westernized democracy and a core member of NATO into an Islamist tyranny whose values and goals have brought it into alliance with U.S. foes Iran and Russia and into cahoots with Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and ISIS. The U.S. has met ever more extreme behavior from Ankara with a combination of denial and obsequiousness.

For example, the U.S. never sanctioned Turkey for its support for Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The U.S. didn’t penalize Turkey for its effective sponsorship of ISIS. For years, the Turks permitted ISIS to use their territory as its logistical base. ISIS’s foreign recruits entered Syria through Turkey. Its terrorists received medical care in Turkey. Turkey was the main purchaser of oil from ISIS- controlled territory and there were repeated allegations that ISIS was receiving arms from Turkey.

And the U.S. turned a blind eye.

True, and nobody likes to admit that an ally no longer is, let alone that it may have become an enemy. Sometimes it’s not worth the embarrassment to say anything.

But the read-out of their conversation also reflected the distinct possibility that the Trump administration is implementing a sophisticated strategy for contending with Erdogan’s Turkey and its open and growing hostility to the US and its allies.

{I would bet on that possibility. – LS}

To understand that strategy it is first imperative to understand the present state of Turkey’s military.

While it is true that Turkey’s military is second only to the U.S. in size among NATO allies, the state of the Turkish military is atrocious. As former Pentagon official Michael Rubin from the American Enterprise Institute wrote this week in the Washington Examiner, Erdogan has gutted his armed forces in the wake of the failed military coup against his regime in July 2016.

Forty percent of Turkey’s senior officer corps has been purged. A quarter of Turkish pilots are in prison. Turkey has twice as many F-16s as trained pilots.

Turkey’s performance in combat in Syria has been abysmal, from the very earliest stages of the war. Rubin noted that in 2012 Syrian forces downed a Turkish F-4, and Kurds have downed Turkish helicopters.

Syria has been a prime killing ground for Turkish tanks. Kurds, ISIS and Syrian regime forces have all destroyed Turkish tanks. The Kurds have nabbed Turkish intelligence officers. Turkey’s power projection capabilities are weak.

None of this has escaped the Pentagon’s notice.

Last summer, as the U.S. launched its campaign to oust ISIS from its self-declared capital in Raqqa, Erdogan told the Americans that he would deploy his forces to fight alongside U.S. forces in Raqqa if the U.S. agreed to ditch the Kurdish YPG. The U.S. refused. Washington opted to side with the Kurds.

According to a report in the Washington Examiner, the Pentagon has a low opinion of Turkish capabilities. Turkish troops lack “the training, logistics and weaponry to successfully launch the siege of a fortified and well-defended city.”

On the other hand, the Pentagon assessed that the YPG were up to the task of assaulting and destroying ISIS forces in Raqqa. And as the battle of Raqqa demonstrated, they were right.

Rubin wrote that the Kurds in Afrin may well defeat the Turks.

So far, the Turks initial push has been unsuccessful.

While the U.S. has consistently treated Erdogan with respect, it has also sought to diminish U.S. dependence on Turkey.

Consider the issue of the NATO airbase at Incirlik, Turkey.

The Turks view Incirlik as their insurance policy. NATO air operations in Syria are coordinated from Incirlik. Most of the anti-ISIS coalition warplanes are based there. So long as NATO is dependent on Incirlik, so the thinking goes, Turkey can behave as abominably as it wishes.

So it was that following the failed coup in July 2016, Erdogan shut down Incirlik and paralyzed the coalition campaign against ISIS.

Erdogan failed to realize that his actions forced NATO allies to reconsider Turkey’s role in the alliance.

The U.S. responded to Erdogan’s move against Incirlik by expanding its air operations in Romania. And last summer, Germany’s Die Welt reported that the German military had identified eight alternatives to Incirlik, including three sites each in Kuwait and Jordan and two in Cyprus.

So while the stated policy of the U.S. towards Turkey is to continue to treat Turkey as an ally, the unstated U.S. policy is to bypass Turkey and render it irrelevant militarily while diminishing its capacity to harm either the U.S. or its allies.

I think that is a reasonable read of the situation, and if it is deliberate policy, well, good on the administration. We’ve enough open enemies to not need to make more, even ineffectual ones, and so merely sidelining one of them strikes me as good thing.

Freedom, Bought and Sold

It always interests me to see what our readers are reading here. Yesterday, close to 20% of you were reading a fairly old article of Jessica’s, entitled The Exhausted West?.  In it, she spoke about Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s 1978 Harvard Commencement address. It is, I think quite appropriate to today’s subject, especially one of the paragraphs she quoted from the speech.

Destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society appears to have little defense against the abyss of human decadence, such as, for example, the misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, motion pictures full of pornography, crime, and horror. It is considered to be part of freedom and theoretically counterbalanced by the young people’s right not to look or not to accept. Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil. 

Indeed, we have lost here, and even more in Europe, the key fact that freedom imposes responsibility, and that there is much more to life than material possessions.

Today, we are going to speak of the late/current demonstrations in Iran, and even more the reaction to them in the west. The source of today’s is Douglass Murray in The Spectator (UK) article entitled The Iranian revolution the world wants to ignore.

If there is one lesson the world should have learned from Iran’s ‘Green Revolution’ of 2009 and the so-called Arab Spring that followed, it is this: the worst regimes stay. Rulers who are only averagely appalling (Tunisia’s Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak) can be toppled by uprisings. Those who are willing to kill every one of their countrymen stay. So it is that after almost half a million dead we enter 2018 with Bashar al-Assad still President of Syria and with Iran’s mullahs approaching the 40th anniversary of their seizure of power in 1979. […]

Yep, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and quite a few more died peacefully in bed, few of their opponents did.

Yet anyone who expects these demonstrations to lead to swift change in the nature of the Iranian government remembers no history. Shortly after the latest protests began, the country’s security forces, including the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, were seen photographing the events. In Iran, a regime camera is as deadly as a sniper’s sights. Only more delayed. As in 2009, the photographs will be used by the police to arrest demonstrators and also family members unconnected with the protests. This will be followed by the torture and rape of men and women in prison by the theocratic regime’s frontmen. As after the Green Revolution, there will in due course be show trials, forced recantations and executions. This is how a police state with four decades of experience goes about its business. In 1979, the behaviour of the Shah’s dreaded Savak secret police was one of the spurs for revolution. The Ayatollahs have superseded the Savak, fine-tuned their brutality and learned from their mistakes.

Anyone in doubt about the capacity of the Supreme Leader to hang on to power need only watch the footage of crowds in the city of Rasht advancing down the street on one of the first nights of protest. You can see the exact moment when the regime’s Revolutionary Guard starts attacking the protesters. The crowd that is marching one way down the street suddenly finds an organised army running towards them. These are trained killers being unleashed on angry but peaceful civilians. Six hundred people have already been arrested and dozens already killed. The civilians don’t stand a chance. […]

None whatsoever, the Supreme Leaders people are not fully trained troops, probably, although they are inured to killing, which is all it really takes, plus a modicum of organization to easily defeat a mob in the street. Not much different than murder on an industrial scale, but it is effective.

Unless, that is, the outside world takes any interest in their plight. In the early hours of the demonstrations, the US President took to Twitter to warn the Iranian authorities that ‘The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!’ But such is the obsession with Donald Trump and the parochialism of all our politics that Trump’s critics immediately took to the media to condemn his condemnation of human rights abuses. Again on Twitter, the most powerful man on the planet — determined not to replay the actions of his predecessor in office, who was highly reluctant to speak out during the crushing of the Green Revolution — warned that ‘The world is watching.’ He may be right. But the world may watch in silence.

This is one of those occasions where, whatever you think of Donald Trump, he is correct, the west invented human rights, and are the only guarantor. And yet, many, maybe most around the world for whatever reason decided to side with the Ayatollah against the west, personified by Donald Trump. Speaking for myself, I found it sickening.

Some international caution is justified. People have their reasons. Our own Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, has expressed ‘concern’ over events, but has been careful not to go further. Fresh back from a visit to Tehran, the Foreign Secretary has been working to obtain the release of the British–Iranian dual citizen, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been imprisoned in Iran for the last 18 months. Thanks to a campaign by Labour MPs, the issue of Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release has been turned into an issue of the Foreign Secretary’s personal competence (at times as though it is Boris Johnson, and not the mullahs, who imprisoned the woman). Johnson’s Iranian counterparts know that he has a lot riding on his efforts to release her and have used this advantage well. So a campaign for one woman’s freedom has hindered a Foreign Secretary from campaigning for a nation’s freedom.

Other silences have been less defensible. The leader of the opposition is not normally silent when there is an opportunity to talk about unfairness or injustice. Yet after days of protests in Iran, Jeremy Corbyn said nothing.

One reason may be that the leader of Her Majesty’s opposition was until recently in the pay of the Iranian regime. For presenting programmes on its propaganda wing, Press TV (before becoming Labour party leader), Corbyn received up to £20,000. Damningly — or it would be damning if more people cared — he appeared on Press TV even after the channel lost its broadcasting licence. It lost that licence not because of its always clear political support for a sectarian, gay-hanging, women-oppressing dictatorship. It lost it because during the channel’s campaign to delegitimise the 2009 protests, Press TV broadcast a forced confession from a journalist who had been abducted by the regime and was being held in prison. Ofcom thought this crossed a line. Jeremy Corbyn did not and was happy to continue to take his apple-juice money from Tehran.

Elsewhere the silence indicates the dream-puncturing of an entire political class. In 2015 the UN security council agreed a deal with Iran to limit elements of its nuclear programme for a period. Iran’s incentives included a freeing up of trade and a delivery of billions of dollars in cash. For their part, companies and governments across Europe hoped to get their own cash bonanzas in the wake of that deal. Such deals always compromise the people who make them. One of the chief defenders of the 2015 deal, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, has spent recent days being studiously silent on the uprisings in Iran. When President Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital she couldn’t tweet enough condemnations of his action. Yet five days into the protests in Iran, she hadn’t even said that she is watching events closely. Europe’s leading foreign affairs ideologue needs Iran’s governing status quo to stay in place so that nothing about her own deal, future cash prize or putative Nobel award is in any way disturbed.

We’ve said speaking of the election that Donald Trump has F**k you money. He has enough that he can do what he thinks is right without regard to his next paycheck. It’s a major advantage. It applies here, as well. The US, seemingly alone in the west has F**k you money, too. Not that we do, but we have a historical record of trying to do the harder right instead of the easier wrong. Do we always succeed? Of course not. But maybe that is the reason why we, of all the nations of the west, still will go out into the world to fight evil.

But I suspect the day is coming when we will come to the conclusion that if the people of Europe amongst others value money above all things, especially above their own freedom, well, why should we care. That will be the day that Europe falls. Of its own volition, bribed by its own money. It will be a sad day, but it begins to appear inevitable.


What Matters in the United States

This, from David Limbaugh.

It is disheartening to see the ongoing rift between those conservatives supporting President Donald Trump and those opposing him — a rift that began before Trump and may survive his presidency.

Many conservatives opposed Trump’s nomination because they believed he was not a true conservative — not even really a bona fide Republican — but rather a narcissistic opportunist who wanted to take his game show hosting and self-promotional platform to a grander stage.

Many also thought that a Trump presidency, even if it would somewhat forestall the Obama-Clinton agenda, would not be worth the long-term damage it would do to the conservative movement. They believed a Trump victory would embolden the so-called alt-right movement, which they saw as Trump’s main base. They saw a mob-like mentality among many of his supporters, saying they were fueled by rage and would rubber-stamp every crazy idea Trump might pursue and also push him to pursue even nuttier ideas.

Admittedly, in the red-hot contentiousness of the primary campaigns, some of the alt-right types did surface as among the most vocal of Trump supporters. Trump supporters seemed to defend anything Trump said or did, even if indefensible.

That was my concern, as well. I was wrong, it seems. But the Republican convention was a time of self reflection for me, and many others, when Trump won, honestly and fairly. One could go daft, as so many did, with what’s his name, which was bound to be every bit as effective as staying home hiding in your bed. One could stay home hiding in your bed. One could support Hillary and the final unraveling of our America, or one could support Donald Trump, and hope to keep him from major excess. It wasn’t a hard choice for me, or other millions of Americans. Our decision was final and unambiguous. It canned be summed up thusly:

Hillary will never be president.

That is a victory, for America, for freedom, and for what used to be common honesty.

This same obliviousness to the urgency of our situation also led to GOP establishment inertia regarding the Obama agenda. The establishment’s insufficient energy and willingness to oppose him sowed the seeds of Trump’s rise to power. How ironic that the people who remain most opposed to Trump today are to some extent responsible for the emergence of such an unorthodox character to fill the void they helped to create.

That’s a key point. I don’t think the GOP elite is evil as such. They live in the belly of the beast, and they have become timid, and far too used to losing. And so they have become losers, and when shown a way to win, it is difficult for them to believe that someone else, especially a loud, uncouth man from the outer boroughs, might win, even without their timid advice, which always resulted in losing, but got them nice invitations. These are the people that renewed their membership in America First, on December 8, 1941. Burke had it right, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. “

The second thing is that I came to realize that I had misunderstood much of Trump’s grass-roots support. Yes, grass-roots voters were convinced that there was no difference between the two parties and that only an outsider like Trump could break the mold and inaugurate a new paradigm in Washington. But they were not a mob, and they saw something that others may not have seen. […]

The Trump opponents have a variety of excuses to deny Trump credit for advancing this agenda and discredit those who foresaw the landscape better than they. They can’t stand his tone, his manners or his tweets. They view him as temperamentally and mentally unfit for office. Even when he achieves policy success after policy success, they childishly huff that it is only because other people besides Trump are running the White House — that he has delegated foreign policy matters and “outsourced” his legislative agenda. Come on, people.

Well, I don’t know whether Trump has morphed into a full-blown ideological conservative, but I do know that he’s largely governing as one — and an effective one at that, accomplishing some bold things that few other conservative presidents would have even tried.

Why are some never-Trumpers obsessively bogged down in evaluating Trump’s character and competence and preoccupied with sanctimoniously judging Trump’s supporters instead of admitting that Trump’s supporters are just rooting for America and that Trump’s policies are — to this point — moving us back toward the direction of the American dream?

This shouldn’t be a contest over who’s more conservative; it should be about what’s best for the United States. I’m pleased with how things are going. If the conservative movement doesn’t come together in the future, I don’t think it will be primarily the fault of the Trump supporters.

That is what matters, who gets invited to what cocktail party doesn’t, who guesses right about anything doesn’t, even who is president doesn’t. What is right for the United States, that matters. Some people need to put their ego in their pocket and get on with the job.

Saudi Reformation?


Have you ever wondered what it was like to live in Martin Luther’s Germany, Henry VIII’s England, or revolutionary America? I sure have. And now we can watch what it is like. That is essentially what is happening in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Myron Magnet wrote about it in City Journal yesterday.

How extraordinary to see a world-historical revolution unfolding before one’s eyes and not know how it will turn out: that’s what’s happening right now in Saudi Arabia. Mohammad bin Salman, a 32-year-old too young to be a partner in most law or finance firms, has managed, by intrigue not yet fully disclosed, to supplant his cousin Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef as heir to the throne and to carry out a purge of the royal family breathtaking in its sweep. Imagine: not only did bin Salman order the arrest of at least ten other princes and a score of former government ministers, now held in luxurious restraint in Riyadh’s Ritz Carlton; he also supposedly had Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, one of the world’s richest men and a major shareholder of 21st Century Fox, Citigroup, Apple, Twitter, and a host of other giant Western corporations, hanged upside down and beaten in an “anti-corruption” investigation.

No matter that “wasta”—corruption, kickbacks, and cronyism—has long governed Saudi Arabian business dealings. Now, the kingdom’s economic crown jewel—Aramco, the Saudi state oil company—is headed for sale on the public stock markets, and the financial future of the kingdom and its oligarchs is on the line. Sadly for the Saudis, Aramco is no longer as valuable, economically and geopolitically, as it once was. Natural gas from fracking has displaced oil as the fuel of the Western economy, with the result that OPEC (and, less critically, Russian oil) can no longer hold anybody’s economy hostage. […]

I’m not completely certain that the Russia part of the story is less critical, but the Saudi story is certainly more gripping at the moment.

Economic modernization and diversification, the prince saw, were essential, and they required social liberalization as the first order of business, beginning with allowing women to drive cars, the royal road to women’s liberation. Already, Saudi women are casting off the hijab and seizing modern social pleasures. The important point is that half the kingdom’s potential workforce will become free to produce, with hugely positive consequences for the economy.

But that’s only part of the social revolution that the prince’s economic transformation entails. Crucially, the royal family will find it harder to fund the radical Wahhabi Islam that OPEC has let grow like mushrooms. It’s hard to imagine that this well-established, well-fed worldwide network of terrorist-supporting fanatics, in their opulent mosques and madrassas—and especially in the more Spartan ones in Pakistan—will go quietly; little wonder that the prince has surrounded himself with a repressive security apparatus reminiscent of the Shah of Iran’s. He appears to be a quiet but inexorable foe of Muslim extremism, and consequently it is uncertain that he will emerge from his heroic and visionary remaking of the Saudi order with his head intact on his shoulders. Many a social liberalization has spun out of control and produced anarchy or fascist counterrevolution. But well-wishers have long hoped that some Muslim Martin Luther would purge Islam of its quotient of bloodlust and allow the self-perfecting, ethical version of its peaceful adherents to prevail in a secular society, where separation of mosque and state makes religion a private matter. In a medieval region like Arabia, it turns out, a king might do the job equally well—if he can survive to inherit the throne and rule from it. And then the question will be whether his revolution can last, as the Pahlavis’ and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s did not.

I tend to wonder whether Henry VIII is a closer parallel than Martin Luther, a top-down imposed reformation rather than Luther’s more or less bottom-up one, but then I’m an Anglophile, and its a pretty small point, overall.

But the ramifications are breathtaking. While we American worry more about the Iranians (not to mention their manifold connections with North Korea) Britain, who have more problems with homegrown terrorists than we do, worries quite a lot more about KSA and Wahhabism. Different experiences, different outcomes.

The US, for all our conventional power, often focusses on strategic weapons (read nuclear missiles). That’s important, and I think the Brits (and others) should pay more attention, that Nork launch last week means that all of the northern hemisphere is a target, in fact, London is closer than Los Angeles.

But that doesn’t make the British focus on KSA wrong. The Saudis have financed a lot of bad actors, especially in Pakistan, where a lot of the British problem originates. Remember Pakistan was, like India, part of the Raj, the British Empire in South Asia. It complicates a lot of things for them, and this is one of them.

What will happen? I simply have no idea, I don’t know enough. But it has many good possibilities, just as that document signed on 2 July 1776 did. But like that document, it may well have to be made good in blood, and even if it is, it may be worth it. I guess we’ll see if we live long enough.

Good luck to the Crown Prince though, I think he is on the right track.


%d bloggers like this: