The Week, mostly on Twitter

From Breitbart:

The House held hearings on reparations the other day. I doubt the Democrats liked what Super Bowl Champion Safety Burgess Owens had to say. But I do and I suspect many of you will as well.

Pretty much a nuclear truth bomb – delivered from orbit.


Senator Tom Cotton is not pleased that so many corporations are explicitly pushing liberal dogma, especially infanticide abortion on their employees and the rest of us. Here’s why: [via Ace].

I’m very rapidly turning into a huge fan of Senator Cotton. I just ordered his book on his tour with the 3d Infantry (the Old Guard) as well.

His points here are welcome ones. Too often we in business forget there are many things more important than the bottom line, especially the quarterly one, which is the one a lot of libertarians and finance types think is the be all and end all.

Floppy Joe Biden inserted his foot in his mouth the other day (yes, I know, a regular occurrence) about getting along with segregationists (not to mention racists) in the old days. Senator Cotton had something to add to that, as well. [via The Right Scoop]

Yes, indeed. It is long past time that we call the Demonrats out every time they try to shift the scumbags off on us. Good on both of you Senator and Mr. Trump.

Speaking of Trump, President Trump in this case, his campaign kickoff the other night was amazingly good.

John Hinderaker at PowerLine calls him a force of nature. I agree, and in so being he makes America one once again. And I note that CNN couldn’t stand the heat and cut off the broadcast as soon as he started talking about them and the rest of the fake news media. Typical. They spent a fair amount of time wingeing, but then they made their bed and they can damned well lie in it. With luck, it will be their deathbed.

And along that line, you’ll know that Iran shot down an American drone the other night. Apparently, the return strike was aborted at about T-30 seconds. Nobody knows why the President so decided, but the Mullahs would be very wise to consider it a final warning.


I hear we are going to start mass deportations of illegal immigrants next week, starting, I trust with lawbreakers and troublemakers. Not everybody is pleased.

So, it’s pretty obvious if Senator Harris thinks that removing these illegal immigrants, who are forbidden to vote in federal elections is changing the electorate, it follows that Senator Harris’ party has been attempting to change the electorate by using illegal immigration and also by committing vote fraud which is a felony.

Probably shouldn’t have said that for the record, Senator, but few have accused you of intelligence, most people who sleep their way to a better job aren’t too bright after all.

Making Sense of American Conservatism

And so, time to start trying to make sense of the world again, I guess, Matthew Continetti has a long piece up at The Washington Free Beacon called Making Sense of the New American Right. It’s a valiant effort at a nearly impossible subject. Let’s look.

The story goes that, for many years, American conservatives adhered to a consensus known as “fusionism.” Economic and social conservatives put aside their differences. Freedom, they decided, was necessary for the exercise of virtue. The struggle against and ultimate defeat of the Soviet Union was more important than domestic politics or intramural disagreements. Conservative intellectuals eager to privilege either freedom or virtue like to attack this consensus, which they often describe as “zombie Reaganism.” The truth is that the strength of fusionism always has been exaggerated. The conservative intellectual movement has been and continues to be fractious, contentious, combustible, and less of a force than most assume.

Episodes of division and strife are far more common than moments of unity and peace. The more you study the history of American conservatism, the less willing you are to describe it in monolithic terms. There isn’t one American right, there are multitudes, every one of them competing for the attention of politicians and policymakers. The most prominent and politically salient varieties, as expressed in William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review, Irving Kristol’s Public Interest, Norman Podhoretz’s Commentary, and William Kristol’s Weekly Standard, have weakened or disappeared altogether. One of the reasons the intra-conservative argument has become so personal and acrimonious is that nothing has replaced them.

Indeed, the situation today is awfully similar to that which confronted conservatives in the 1970s. Then, the Buckley consensus had to find a modus vivendi with neoconservatives as well as with the Catholic integralists around Triumph magazine, against the background of a populist revolt that called out failing elites while relying on racial and ethnic appeals that sometimes crossed the border of decency.

Indeed, that consensus is what many of us to today deride as ‘cocktail party conservatism’. It is one of the things that Donald Trump blew up on his way to the White House, with the willing help of many of us. We also tend to believe these are the people who gave us never-ending wars, mostly to enrich their friends, while denigrating our troops.

The rise of Donald Trump, Brexit, and nation-state populism throughout the world certainly suggest that something has changed in global politics. American conservatism ought to investigate, recognize, and assimilate the empirical reality before it. The trouble is that no one has concluded definitively what that reality is.

Not for lack of trying. Beginning in 2016, intellectuals who favored Trump have been searching for a new touchstone for conservative thought and politics. These writers are often described as populists, but that label is hard to define. Broadly speaking, they have adopted the banner of nationalism. They believe the nation-state is the core unit of geopolitics and that national sovereignty and independence are more important than global flows of capital, labor, and commodities. They are all, in different ways, reacting to perceived failures, whether of Buckley conservatism, George W. Bush’s presidency, or the inability of the conservative movement to stop same-sex marriage and the growth of the administrative state. And they have turned away from libertarian arguments and economistic thinking. Not everything, these thinkers believe, can be reduced to gross domestic product.

And that is an important concept. Too many, whom some call the ‘Chamber of Commerce’ Republicans do believe it is all about the GDP. And what is even worse, they tend to believe the best GDP is taken from the quarterly balance sheet. This very short term thinking has led to the deindustrialization of the US (and Britain and some other nations). There is nothing wrong in profit-seeking, but there is in putting short term profit ahead of the firms long term best interest. And that is what I see all too often.

That is rather the foundation of what we are going to be talking about, there is a lot out there, both in the linked article and some others. So much that there is at least one but probably two (maybe more) articles in it to talk about, since I write articles and not books here. So let’s discuss this much and we’ll continue, hopefully, tomorrow, if the creek doesn’t rise too much.

A vision from the Founders

The Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, received the Claremont Institute’s Statesmanship Award recently. Obviously, it called for dinner and a speech. And that happened. here it is.

There’s not all that much to add. Scott Johnson wrote about it for PowerLine. Scott pulls a very good quote from it. Human Events also wrote about it, with Raheem Kassam pulling this quote…

“The Founders were keen students of human nature and history,” he said. “They saw that conflict is the normative experience for nations. Hamilton put this Federalist 34. He said, ‘To judge from the history of mankind, we shall be compelled to conclude that the fiery and destructive passions of war reign in the human breast with much more powerful sway than the mild and [beneficial] sentiments of peace’.

“I’ll simplify,” Pompeo continued: “The Founders knew peace wasn’t the norm. And in response to this reality, the Founders knew the first duty of the federal government was to provide for the safety of its citizens. Madison said, ‘[Security] is an avowed and essential object of the American Union.’ You all know that.

“How about restraint? The Founders sought to protect our interests but avoid adventurism. The Barbary War, fought so soon after independence, was an effort of last resort to protect our vital commercial interests. The Monroe Doctrine – relevant even today – was a message of deterrence, not a license to grab land. ‘Peace and friendship,’ said Jefferson, ‘with all mankind is our wisest policy, and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it. But the temper and folly of our enemies may not leave this in our choice.’

“And finally, respect,” Pompeo mused. “The Founders had recently cast off the tyranny of an empire. They were not eager to subjugate others. In 1821, John Quincy Adams wrote that America ‘goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.’ But indeed, quite the opposite: ‘She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all’.”

An excellent statement of traditional and current US foreign policy. Like all such thing, perhaps easier to promulgate than to follow in all cases, but an excellent guide. Something we have needed in the last thirty or so years.

The Ottoman Legacy

Ottoman_Empire_Coat_of_Arms_by_TurkForce

As Bookworm said the other day, the news, while there is a fair amount of it, just kind of feels stale. Maybe a bit of ennui has set in, we’ll cover most of it soon, but it’ll probably keep till the first of the week.

This is the second in the series of articles from 2013 that I promised you, giving some background on the Ottoman Empire mostly and why you should care. 

Once again, this was published by Jessica, but as she acknowledged it is the work of her co-author Chalcedon451, who is a professional historian. So enjoy, it’s not often we get this good an insight on much of anything.

Bosnia, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Kuwait, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, the Gulf region and Saudi Arabia, the trouble spots of the last half century or so, and what do they have in common? They all used to be part of the Ottoman Empire which existed from the 1200s until its demise in the aftermath of what we call World War I, but which was, for the Turks, a war which began in 1911 and did not end until 1923. Oh, yes, and they are all, also, Muslim in religion.

The Ottomans ruled over one of the world’s great empires, and they did so by following a simple model: they conquered a place and then they identified a section of the former rulers who could be trusted to run the place for them at a price; if that tended to produce a policy of divide and rule, so much the better, after all if the head of one clan proved to be unreliable, you could transfer your support to his rival, and as long as, in the final analysis, your army was the best in the region, you won. It led to a lot of local graft, of course, but as long as the Ottomans collected enough money, like in most protection rackets, the locals were left alone once they paid up. Now and then a ruler would get greedy, but if he caused unrest locally, that often provided an excuse to cut him down to size.

The Ottomans lacked much of an interest in ruling. They were warriors and they liked the things warriors liked. They were Muslims, but they did not go overboard; Christians, Jews, and others were all tolerable provided they paid up and kept their noses clean; indeed many of the Grand Viziers of the Ottoman Empire were of Greek race who, once they had turned Muslim, were allowed a pretty free reign. Non-Turks were segregated according to ‘Millets’ – so there would be an Orthodox Christian one, a Maronite Christian one, a Catholic Christians one, and so on and so forth. Underneath the Muslim banner others were welcome to co-exist – as long as they knew their place. Such was the violence of the Ottoman reaction to disobedience, people seldom needed telling twice; indeed few of them lived long enough for that to be able to happen.

This method served the Ottomans well, but it left behind it much flammable material, and what we have tended to see in the aftermath of the Ottomans is the same pattern. Unrest followed by the imposition of a strong man. We saw it in the former Yugoslavia with Tito; we saw it in Syria with the Assads; we saw it in Iraq with the Hamehsemites and then Saddam; we saw it in Libya with Gaddafi, and we have seen it in Egypt with Nasser and Musbarak; we see it in Saudi Arabia with the House of Saud.  Remove the strong men – the successor of the Ottoman viceroy if you like – and the ethnic and religious hatreds break out and chaos ensues.

Our strange belief that in these parts of the world, with their type of history, we can somehow build democratic states is a product of such ignorance it is hard to credit it exists; but it does.

[This post is by my editor, Chalcedon 451, and originally appeared on All along the Watchtower.

 

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.

 

 

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.

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