The Appeaser-In-Chief

The Appeaser-In-Chief

Posted By Rich Trzupek On June 23, 2010 @ 12:05 am In FrontPage | 14 Comments

The Islamist movement that threatens Judeo-Christian western culture can be viewed in one of two ways: as a fundamentalist, misguidedly pious religious phenomenon that appeals to a wide swath of the Muslim masses, or as a calculated, cynical attempt to grab both the power and wealth that the West holds — orchestrated by an Islamic elite who don’t actually care about the finer points of the Quran or Sharia law, except when either might serve to further their overall purpose. The important difference between the way that George W. Bush approached the problem of radical Islam and the manner in which Barack Obama deals with the issue – or claims to be trying to deal it – involves these two different points of view.

At various instances during his terms in office Bush tried, mostly in vain, to find and deal with moderates among Islamic leadership, hoping to thus isolate extremist leaders and their radical, fundamentalist followers. It was a flawed vision, but an appealing one, for it attacked the problem at a grass roots level. If radical Islam is primarily a political phenomenon then it should be possible to separate radical organizations like the Taliban, al Qaeda and Hamas from ordinary moderate Muslims who reject fundamentalist dogma and instead blend secular values in with their theology in the western style. That’s a tough road to take, especially given the lack of any meaningful educational system in the modern sense in the Muslim world. Yet, in Iraq the majority of a relatively educated populace (by Islamic-state standards anyway) did indeed reject the radicals in their midst once coalition forces provided the kind of security needed to allow the Iraqi people to take charge of their lives in safety.

Barack Obama, on the other hand, has effectively abandoned any hope of cultivating a moderate, secularlist Islam that might counterbalance the fundamentalist, radical variety. Given the ever-increasing power and influence of the extremists, even in a nation like Turkey that we once thought of as the model of a “moderate Muslim” state, the president’s approach is more realistic than Bush’s utopian visions. Moderate Muslims, cowed by the murderous fanatics who infect Islam throughout the globe, were never of much use in the war on terror anyway and aren’t likely to be in the future. In a practical sense, Obama’s policies reflect the reality that Islam cannot be reformed in any meaningful sense. But his reaction to that reality has been to try to appease the extremists rather than rendering them harmless. It’s a strategy that merely emboldens radical Muslims, who are thus convinced more than ever that the West lacks the stomach to see this war through.

Obama’s counter-terrorism czar, John Brennan provided an example of the Obama administration’s approach in a speech he gave a few weeks ago [1]. Utilizing the kind of Orwellian newspeak that has become a hallmark of this administration, Brennan said that “…we need to try to build up the more moderate elements” within Hezbollah. It’s at least the second time that Brennan has referred to “moderate elements” within the radical Shia militia, but Brennan surely knows that there are no moderate elements within Hezbollah, just as though there are no moderates within Hamas, the Taliban or al Qaeda. So, why use such a term? There’s only one rational answer: if this administration is going to negotiate with terrorists – in effect trying to find a way to buy them off – it cannot appear to be doing so. While America remains a house divided when it comes to pressing forward war against the jihadis, the “millions for defense, but not a penny for tribute” spirit still resonates among Americans of every political stripe. Obama would face intense criticism on both sides of the aisle if he announced that he was going to negotiate a settlement with terrorists, but when the administration packages that strategy as an attempt to nurture so-called moderates, it sounds much more palatable, so that’s how his counter-terrorism czar is going to sell it.

This is of course the same John Brennan [2] who said: “Nor do we describe our enemy as ‘jihadists’ or ‘Islamists’ because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one’s community, and there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children.” Unfortunately, to the radicals that this administration is trying to court, it is both legitimate and Islamic to murder innocent men, women and children in the course of this “holy struggle.” Again, Brennan knows that. He was in the CIA [3] long enough to understand the realities of Islam, but his current assignment involves papering-over those inconvenient facts, not confronting the cold truth.

Some commentators have accused Obama of sympathizing with the radicals, or possibly being a “closet Muslim” himself. That kind of reaction is understandable, given the president’s poorly-concealed hostility towards Israel and his attempts to curry favor from Islamic states. Yet, the more likely reason that Obama chooses to trod down this dangerous path is because he’s an academic and, like most academics, believes that the right combination of words and concessions can soothe the most savage beasts. It’s a naïve strategy, of the sort that only a smug intellectual can embrace. Appeasement is also a forlorn hope, one that delays an inevitable conflict rather than preventing it, as western leaders from Jefferson [4] through Chamberlain [5] painfully learned. Barack Obama seems determined to take America down that doomed path once more. The inevitable consequences of the president’s policy are obvious to even casual students of history and Islam: America and Israel will surely pay for Obama’s naiveté in blood. The only real questions are when and how much.

Disgracing America

Disgracing America

June 5th, 2010

by Mona Charen, Townhall

 Obama is a disgrace

President Barack Obama, who got his start in politics in the living room of domestic terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, and spent his first year in office apologizing for American history, has now decisively tipped U.S. foreign policy toward America’s enemies. Events of the past week have left no doubt.

There is a pattern. President “Let No Crisis Be Wasted” Obama twists events to justify his radical agenda. A financial crisis becomes the excuse for a massive health care entitlement. An oil spill is exploited to push an unpopular energy tax. And a jihadist publicity stunt — the Gaza flotilla — becomes the occasion to throw Israel to the wolves.

One mentions Ayers and Dohrn not to dwell on the past but because — hello! — the pair has been involved with the Free Gaza movement, one of the organizers of the so-called “Freedom Flotilla.” Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez has announced that he, too, would like to participate in the next running of the blockade — and why not? Obama has blessed the project with success.

By 1) declaring through Secretary of State Clinton that the blockade of Gaza is “unsustainable and unacceptable”; 2) joining the United Nations Security Council in “condemn(ing) those acts which resulted in the loss of at least 10 civilians and many wounded”; and 3) having a White House official tell the Washington Post that there is now a “general sense in the administration that it’s time to change our Gaza policy,” the Obama administration has handed the terrorists a victory.

To review: In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, forcibly uprooting 8,500 Jewish settlers and evacuating all soldiers. The Palestinians were left free to form their own government and run their own affairs. Much of value was left behind. MSNBC reported at the time that “American Jewish donors … bought more than 3,000 greenhouses from Israeli settlers in Gaza for $14 million last month and transferred them to the Palestinian Authority. Former World Bank President James Wolfensohn, who brokered the deal, put up $500,000 of his own cash.”

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Summing Up Obama (So Far)

Summing Up Obama (So Far)

Posted By David Solway On May 18, 2010 @ 12:04 am In FrontPage | 14 Comments

So much has been said and written about Barack Obama that, barring some shattering revelation, very little remains to be rehearsed. As columnist Barry Rubin bemoaned [1], “I don’t want to keep writing every day about the Obama Administration’s Middle East policy. There are many other topics I’d prefer, but the problem is that they keep doing things.” I could not agree more, and not  concerning the Middle East alone. Yet the issues continuing to swirl about the president need to be revisited, not only because Obama is arguably the most polarizing figure of our times, but because he is also the most potentially catastrophic.

This statement will be regarded by many as rhetorical overkill, but I would contend that the election of Obama to the most powerful office in the world is  quite possibly the most significant political—and dangerous—event of recent times. By being proactive and making informed decisions, he has the ability to create a slightly safer world. By misreading the historical text, making bad  choices, engaging half-heartedly in certain conflicts (Afghanistan, Iraq), coming down on the wrong side of another (Israeli/Palestinian), and flinching before  yet another challenge of far greater urgency (Iran), he invites retribution. This latter direction is plainly the one he has taken. As such I believe that intense concentration on the man and his compliant administration, and its public reiteration, is both warranted and necessary.

Indeed, the presidential dilemma we are facing is complex and far-ranging. Leaving aside the ongoing “birther” controversy focusing on the vexed issue of the president’s legitimacy, the “Obama problem” really has to do with the conundrum of his political identity. Is he a bone-stock socialist or a far-left radical determined to impose a neo-Marxist regime upon republican America,  or merely a “person of advanced views and reactionary feeling,” as Theodore Dalrymple says [2] of Virginia Woolf? Perhaps, as Jonah Goldberg suggests [3], coining a phrase, he is a “neo-socialist” who believes “in the power of government to extend its scope and grasp far deeper into society”? Is Obama a closet Islamist [4], as some have alleged? Is he a media artifact, the digital remastering of an epic hero enacting an ancient fantasy of salvation? Is he a volatile prevaricator, saying one thing, then saying another, making solemn promises and regularly breaking them, whose erratic behavior must leave us bewildered before an ever-widening credibility gap? Or is he a university-educated postmodernist for whom the concept of truth has been relativized beyond recognition? Is he just a political rookie whose lack of executive experience shows up alarmingly in a capricious and anemic foreign policy? An old KGB hand like Vladimir Putin must look at him and think, “What a patsy.” Ditto Hugo Chavez, King Abdullah, Bashir Assad, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Castros and a host of other shrewd manipulators and world-wise autocrats.

Who really knows? Perhaps, as Pajamas Media founder Roger Simon proposes, he is frankly deranged, meriting the title of President Weirdo [5]? Children’s author Sarah Durand concurs, diagnosing Obama as suffering from liberalomania [6],  archly defined as a “degenerative form of dementia” evidenced in his highly skilled capacity as a blame gamer, his extreme narcissism and his delusions of grandeur. Or is he merely an updated version of tall-tale artist and windy opportunist Christy Mahon in John Millington Synge’s comic drama The Playboy of the Western World [7], “the laughing joke of every woman [read: person] where four baronies meet”—the man who flies Air Force One to dinner, practices his golf swing while a national crisis is unfolding, and throws Budweiser-like parties in the White house, as if to “keep the good times going”? Or is he none of these but, quite the opposite, the “sort of god [8]” whom Newsweek’s Evan Thomas worships, “The One [9]” venerated by Oprah, Louis Farrakhan’s “Messiah [10]”? Who? What? Searching for Obama is like mining for unobtanium.

Iranian-born journalist Amir Taheri is troubled by Obama’s lack of identifiable character. Commenting on Obama’s casting himself as a bridge between America and the Islamic world (Al- Arabiya TV, January 27, 2009), Taheri notes [11] that “Obama appeared unsure of his own identity and confused about the role that America should play in global politics. And that is bad news for those who believe that the United States should use its moral, economic and political clout in support of democratic forces throughout the world.” Obama himself admitted in The Audacity of Hope [12], “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.” Pretty damaging, this confession. And when it comes to Obama’s famous “hope,” among the most antiquated of imaginable pieties whether audacious or sentimental, American poet C.J. Sage [13] has it about right: “Solve for this: where x is hope/and y is your future, what is surely finite?” Something worth keeping in mind when listening to a political mesmerist.

The question remains open. Who is this guy? And what does so enigmatic a figure augur for the United States and, indeed, for the future of us all? No matter what hypothesis or conviction one espouses concerning his definitive DNA, it seems fair to say that a shadow of the clandestine—or if one prefers, the inscrutable—envelops this president.

Even Obama’s most avid supporters, if they are honest, must allow that, compared to his POTUS predecessors, unambiguously little is known about his antecedents or, for example, the salient facts of his academic career—many of his records are still under seal, his college and university transcripts have not been released and, broadly speaking, his significant documentation is rather flimsy. There is not much of a paper trail here; for that matter, there is scarcely a Hansel-and-Gretel bread crumb trail. How such a man could be elected to the presidency boasting a curriculum vitae with more blank pages in it than a Danielewski novel [14] remains a riddle [15] for the sphinx. Nor should it surprise us that it is precisely a blank page, like the blank screen Obama mentions, that solicits conjecture or projection, much of it skeptical or unfavorable.

In any event, there can be no doubt that the dossier is scanty and that this is a truly amazing deficiency. We simply do not have a clear portrait or a crisply factual biography of the president. But what we do know about his close affiliates—America-and-Jew bashing Reverend Jeremiah Wright, former PLO spokesman Rashid Khalidi, hysterical and racially divisive Cornel West, unrepentant Weatherman terrorist Bill Ayers, unscrupulous entrepreneur Tony Rezko—is profoundly unsettling. To adapt Obama’s ringing slogan [16], borrowed or plagiarized from African-American poet June Jordan [17], are they the ones we’ve been waiting for? But on the whole, the asymmetric relation between what we know and what we don’t know must distress any rational person curious about so influential an actor on the current political scene.

That Louis Farrakhan, like millions of others, feels that Obama was “selected [18]” for our times should give us further pause. On the contrary, it may not be out of place to suggest that we are now afflicted with the worst possible president at the worst possible time, with Iran darting toward the nuclear finish line, the Palestinians as intransigent as ever, the Russians moving back into the Caucasus region, negotiating with Venezuela and solidifying ties with Iran, Syria and Turkey, terrorism (oops—“man-made disasters”) on the rise and U.S. citizens increasingly at the mercy of the jihadists, China holding massive quantities of American Treasury notes, Obama considering ruinous cap-and-trade legislation at a time when the AGW consensus is collapsing, the American debt estimated to hit 100% of GDP [19] in 2011 and its unfunded entitlement liabilities totaling over $US 100 trillion [20], leading to the prospect of monetary collapse. None of these critical issues have been substantially addressed by the president, except insofar as his actions in some cases, lack of action in others, have only exacerbated them. The collateral fact that we really have no valid and comprehensive notion of who exactly is leading us at this crucial historical juncture boggles the mind.

It should be added, however, that we do know something about the ideas which govern his policies: the redistribution of wealth, the expansion of state control at the expense of the private sector, extensive regulation of more and more aspects of quotidian life, bureaucratic bloat, a paternal administration accompanied by the leveling of individual initiative to a lowest common denominator—all very old doctrines gussied up with a defensive terminology like “social justice,” “progressivism,” “equality of outcome,” “only the people will save the people”—which have been tried before and failed spectacularly. The best that can be said of Obama is that, in the realm of political theory, he does not believe in granny dumping, though the dogmas and paradigms he embraces should long ago have been put out of their misery.

We might have twigged by now. Each new measure he introduces or intends to introduce is a camel’s nose presaging future debilities. But the president’s youthful vigor, toggle-switch charm and exotic presence seem to apply a veneer of novelty to ideological obsolescence. He is like the word “proverbial” which we insert into a tired simile in order to avoid the skank of platitude, as in “smart as the proverbial whip” or “dumb as the proverbial ox.” America is saddled with a proverbial president, a man whose principal function is to renovate clichès and make them palatable.

This appears to be as far as we can go for now, with more to come to a political theater near us. One thing, however, seems undeniable: so far, not so good.

Obama’s Big Government Problem

Obama’s Big Government Problem

Posted By Rich Trzupek On May 7, 2010 @ 12:10 am In FrontPage | 1 Comment

Listening to an Obama speech is like chowing down on a box of assorted chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get. The president’s commencement speech at the University of Michigan [1] last Saturday was a classic case in point. To paraphrase an orator whose reputation for greatness did not involve the use of either speechwriters or teleprompters: never in the course of American politics has a president used so many words to say so little. For example, on the one hand, Obama deplores the nature of debate in the nation today:

“You can disagree with a certain policy without demonizing the person who espouses it. You can question someone’s views and their judgment without questioning their motives or their patriotism. Throwing around phrases like “socialist” and “Soviet-style takeover;” “fascist” and “right-wing nut” may grab headlines, but it also has the effect of comparing our government, or our political opponents, to authoritarian, and even murderous regimes.”

On the other hand, there’s really nothing to worry about, for that’s the way it’s always been:

“In fact, this isn’t a new phenomenon. Since the days of our founding, American politics has never been a particularly nice business – and it’s always been a little less gentle during times of great change. A newspaper of the opposing party once editorialized that if Thomas Jefferson were elected, “Murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will be openly taught and practiced.” Not subtle.”

The president is also happy to acknowledge that too much government is obviously a bad thing:

“The democracy designed by Jefferson and the other founders was never intended to solve every problem with a new law or a new program. Having thrown off the tyranny of the British Empire, the first Americans were understandably skeptical of government. Ever since, we have held fast to the belief that government doesn’t have all the answers, and we have cherished and fiercely defended our individual freedom. That is a strand of our nation’s DNA.”

Which, of course, is why we need more government:

“But what troubles me is when I hear people say that all of government is inherently bad. One of my favorite signs from the health care debate was one that read “Keep Government Out Of My Medicare,” which is essentially like saying “Keep Government Out Of My Government-Run Health Care.” For when our government is spoken of as some menacing, threatening foreign entity, it conveniently ignores the fact in our democracy, government is us. We, the people, hold in our hands the power to choose our leaders, change our laws, and shape our own destiny.”

It’s pretty much all like that. It always is when Barack Obama hits the teleprompter. If you only listened to his words, you’d have a hard time figuring out what exactly this president stands for. Fortunately, we have the benefit of observing his actions, so America has a pretty good idea where his real sympathies lie. The mainstream media touted the Michigan commencement speech as a blast back at the “anti-government” crowd [2] and, with a small correction, that’s what it was. Despite the bromides, the president was clearly firing back at what should correctly be called the “small government” sentiment in America that is embodied by the tea-party movement. (“Anti-government” is a phrase that properly describes anarchists, not patriotic Americans protesting more bureaucracy, more spending, more debt and less self-determination).

Nobody outside of crazed militia types says, or thinks, that “government is bad.” Rather, millions of Americans believe that government is inefficient, expensive and stifling and should therefore be used as a means toward accomplishing an end only when absolutely necessary. “Absolutely necessary” can be defined as some of the examples that Obama cited: police officers, highway safety and the laws and regulations designed to prevent workplace injuries and promote environmental responsibility. There’s a role for government in all of these cases that no private entity could fulfill, but it should be self-apparent that we all pay a price when we employ government to do so.

Having police protect us requires a justice system and, the government being what it is, that justice system is necessarily bloated, inefficient and burdened by mountains of contradictory rules. We deal with OSHA and the EPA, because most of us realize that somebody has to do what some private companies won’t: ensure that both employees and the environment are protected. But again, we pay a price. OSHA may help prevent injuries, but it’s also enormously powerful and too often petty. The EPA has done a stellar job of cleaning up America, but the massive bureaucratic structure it created while doing so now intrudes in the operation of private enterprise in stifling ways that have little or nothing to do with environmental protection. It’s always that way. Once the nose of the bureaucratic camel pushes through the tent, you’ve got yet another dromedary for a roommate, and the basic problem is that there’s not much room left in the tent that used to be our private lives for more camels.

The crux of Obama’s defense of big government is that, in a democracy, the “government is us.” No doubt the president really believes that, because his entire working life [3] has been spent working for the government, in academia or as an advocate for people trying to get more out of government. His “real world” experience, as those of us who work in the private sector understand it, is zero. Accordingly it’s no surprise when Obama doesn’t understand that for the majority of us in the private sector – who pay for the ever-expanding public sector, by the by – the government isn’t “us” at all. The government isn’t the people we actually elected, as the president styled it, the government is rather the army of nameless bureaucrats to whom the people we elected have bequeathed, and continue to bequeath, enormous power over our lives.

The liberal myth says that conservatives and libertarians trust the private sector and don’t trust the public sector. That’s not the case. The truth of the matter is that we don’t trust anybody. But, when it comes to excess in the private sector, at least we have a chance of winning. If some company rips off a consumer, the consumer can go to the Better Business Bureau, complain to the Attorney General, call the local media watchdog, or employ a vast number of other means to settle the score. If a consumer thinks that a particular corporation’s product is inferior, there’s a host of other companies willing to fill the need. But, when it comes to government excess, people don’t have any hope of leveling the playing field unless they’re very rich or very lucky. There is no protection from our protectors. Anyone who has been victimized by an over-zealous IRS agent, EPA official, OSHA inspector or any other member of the bloated, blustering bureaucracy that runs more and more of our lives knows exactly how stifling big government is.

So yes Mr. President, we understand that we need some government in our lives. The problem, as we see it, is that we have so much damned government that it’s getting harder and harder to breathe.

Dissecting Obama


Obama clueless

Dissecting Obama

Posted By Victor Davis Hanson On May 7, 2010 @ 12:20 am In FrontPage | 8 Comments

Editors’ note: This is a transcript of a speech delivered by Victor Davis Hanson at the recent David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Santa Barbara Retreat. It was given without a prepared text. To watch the video of the speech, click here [1].

Victor Hanson:  As for that reference in the introduction to being a student of Greek and Latin: I would think about being a classicist a lot when I came home to farm at 26.  I just got my Ph.D., and my father and a brother (who was really a cynic) talked at length. And at one point, I said, “Well, I passed my exam; my thesis is finished.”

And one said, “What can you do with it?”  And I replied, “I think I can translate the San Francisco Chronicle into Greek now.”  And one replied — he was quoting, I think Johnson or someone, “You know, that’s sort of like a dog that can walk on two legs; it’s impressive, but what’s the use?”  So that’s that—I have an ambiguous relationship with classics.

This afternoon, I thought I would just walk through for 25, 30 minutes, very informally, the highlights of the Obama foreign policy— and then open it up for questions.  And one has to be very careful in criticism, because I think with Obama too often critique becomes an emotional response in that we sometimes lose concentration of the nature of the transformation that he’s actually doing.  And I know no one wishes to fall into that fallacy of Pavlovian opposition.   Sometimes it’s health care “reform” or the apology tour can become so aggravating that one doesn’t look at each issue empirically. That is always a danger, because there really is something called Obama derangement syndrome, and I would not wish to suffer from it.  We would not wish want to become the mirror-image of the Bush haters.

Anyway, what is the general philosophy that guides this President abroad?   I think there are four or five elements, and I’d like to just go briefly through them and then apply them to specific policies and countries—and see if we can spot their presence.  One, of course, is that he’s a post-modern President.  That’s a fancy word for saying a culture that arose after the modern period, the so-called the post- modern period.  And within it is a belief system that incorporates things like utopian pacifism.  He seems to believe that as a child of the Enlightenment that if very brilliant, smart, educated, technocratic people get together, they can adjudicate differences rationally and without rancor, and that we can leave our Neanderthal past of emotions behind—especially to the degree that we are led and enthused by people like himself that were properly educated, properly cool, properly charismatic with the less fortunate who sometimes cause trouble and are misunderstood.

Mr. Obama believes in a sort of moral equivalency; that is, morality cynically is to be adjudicated only by those who have power.  And just as there’s sort of a Mason-Dixon Line economically in the United States between those of, say, 200,000 in income and above and those below (and above at that divide, you become “them”), so too that applies to the world at large.  The United States is the $200,000 income winner, and all the other countries are, as is true in the U.S., in need of Obama’s sympathy and redistributive attention.  So we have an obligation to help the other countries because somehow we became wealthy at their expense.

And, of course, he’s a multiculturalist.  All of Europe, we in America, we are all burdened with an imperialistic, colonial past; in contrast, people of color, the downtrodden, the other are in need of special consideration by virtue of their poverty or lack of access to global power.  (Compare our respective attention toward a  Syria and Israel, and one learns that consensual government and freedom does not enter into the equation.) That’s part of his ideological background that he brings into his foreign policy.

Second, Obama does seem to like George Bush.  He believes that most problems abroad did not pre-date George Bush, and they didn’t post- date pre-George Bush—instead, they were exclusive to George Bush.  And that’s an important distinction because Obama will sometimes adopt Bush’s anti-terrorism policies, but he won’t dare say that he’s doing that,  because to do so would, of course, give some credit to George Bush.  That ambiguity makes clear a lot of things that seem contradictory, as we’ll get to in a minute.

Yet a third element in his foreign policy is omnipotent debt.  If you are going to borrow in the first 14 months three trillion dollars, and increase the aggregate US debt burden from 11 to 14 trillion dollars, and if you submit a long-term budget process that’s going to get us to 20 trillion in eight years, then you’re going to have less options abroad, in reference to defense, a sort of the weakening the sinews of war as Cicero talked about in the relationship of Roman preparedness to finance.

We simply are not going to have the capital to fund present defense and aid outlays, and people are already anticipating that overseas.  Obama is going to have to make cuts and we know where he won’t make cuts and where he will—another air squadron, yes to cuts; another health care addendum, no. China pays attention more than we do to that reality.

And then the fourth element in his foreign policy;  it’s sort of made up as he goes along, because, after all, if we had this present discussion in 2002, nobody in this room would know who Barack Obama is.  So he’s a late arriving phenomenon without a lot of foreign policy experience.  Indeed, we almost know nothing about his past.  We know nothing about his education at Columbia.  We don’t really know what he did at Harvard.  We don’t know much about him at all in the Senate. Much of what he promised in the campaign simply did not happen. In reference to his past intimacy with a Bill Ayers or Rev. Wright, he simply was not wholly truthful.

Well, let’s look at how these principles are presently guiding the U.S.  We had a very stimulating talk last night by Senator Kyl concerning Obama’s ideas about nuclear weapons.  None of us—in regard to Obama’s non-proliferation summit—none of us lose any sleep tonight that France or England is a nuclear power.  We understand that it’s not nuclear weapons, per se, but who owns them that is the problem.

Nobody loses sleep that Israel is going to preempt and nuke Pakistan. To the degree that a country is invested in the world, even an autocratic China (they don’t necessarily have to be consensual), is not an imminent nuclear threat.

There were two nuclear threats in the world when that summit took place, and they were North Korea and soon to be Iraq—and they were not there.  It reminds me of the old adage about bureaucrats; they always go after the misdemeanor of the law-abiding citizen, and neglect the felonies of the criminal, because the latter takes moral courage and effort, and the former is easy and trivial. So you bring all these leaders together to D.C. that aren’t threats, and you ignore for the most part the two things that would make you either not liked in the world or require a bad/worse choice scenario; that is, confronting Iran or North Korea.

The second thing to remember about nuclear weapons is that it’s always nice to say that we should have a world without nuclear weapons.  Yet more people have been killed by machetes since Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  We lost a million people in Rwanda.  Did we want to outlaw machetes?  If people wish to kill on a mass scale, there is always a mechanism to do it.  Nuclear weapons are one, one especially scary tool, but not the only one So how have we dealt with dangerous, brave new weapons in the history of civilization? The Greeks were horrified by missile weapons.  Strabo records an inscription to the effect, “Thou shalt not use missile weapons.”  Spartans were horrified by artillery.  Agisilaos, the King of Sparta, wept when he saw artillery.  He said in effect, “Manhood is gone.”

I could say something of the same thing about arquebuses, fiery weapons, poison gas—all of them.  Each time we have a frightening new weapon, there has been a righteous international effort to outlaw them.  Even poison gas was not outlawed in World War II, contrary to what we think; it lack of use on the battlefield was due only to deterrence.  In other words, all global prohibitions have all failed— not surprising without a global enforcer of utopian edicts.

Well then, what stops a dangerous new weapon from killing large numbers of people?  Two things: one is deterrence: one side usually— hopefully, a constitutional state or consensual society—has a greater stock of dangerous weapons and tells a would-be adventurous bad actor, “don’t do it or else!”  That’s worked pretty well in the post- Hiroshima age.  Or they’ve counted on technology for a defensive response—bigger walls, thicker armor, anti-missiles defense.  There’s no reason—given that human nature is constant throughout the ages— that won’t be true with nuclear weapons. We have both deterred their use and are working on counter-weapons, antiballistic missile systems to encounter a bad actor’s arsenal who might use them.

Obama seems rather clueless to that, especially the truism that countries that wouldn’t use a bomb would probably abide by an agreement and countries who would use it, would not.

If we look at terrorism, or I should say the War on Terrorism, it’s very interesting Obama is mimicking George Bush.  If we went back to Obama-2002 as a legislator, as a senator in 2006 and from 2007 onward, as a candidate, I could give you the locale and the date in which he serially did the following:  he criticized the Patriotic Act; he criticized tribunals; he criticized renditions; he criticized predator drone attacks; he criticized Iraq; he criticized the war in Afghanistan; he criticized Guantanamo Bay, and on and on.

But that outrage was all predicated on just two considerations — excuse me, I think three truths.  One, by 2006, these critiques resonated with the American people, and they were very, very important to waging a winning campaign, and, therefore, Obama would wholeheartedly embrace them.  Two, Obama sensed that the Bush protocols were of some utility to keep us safe (we hadn’t been attacked since 2001).  And, three he was utterly cynical in that he knew that both he and others on the Left had no real intrinsic objections about any of these protocols— other than the fact that they were connected with George Bush.

If you doubt such cynicism on my part, look what happened after January 20th, 2009.  Obama embraced almost every single protocol.  The Bush-Petraeus Plan now is in operation in Iraq.  He escalated in Afghanistan.  He has allowed as many renditions as Bush did.  He’s accepted the principle of tribunals.  Guantanamo is “virtually” closed.  In other words, it’s not closed, it’s just “virtually” closed.  There have been more predator assassinations in Afghanistan in one year than Bush approved in eight.  Think of that strange logic.  We’re going to beat our breast over three detained terrorists— mass murderers—because they were waterboarded; but we’re going to blow up a suspected terrorist, his wife, children, grandparents, and everybody around him as collateral damage—and that is defensible.

In other words, Barack Obama knew, A, that when he became President, these were necessary protocols that had kept us safe, and, B, that as soon as he became the author and his signature was upon them, Cindy Sheehan would be a distant memory, Michael Moore would be quite forgotten.  There would be no more Hollywood movies like Rendition.  There would be no films like Redacted.  There would be no more Toronto

Film Festival award-winning docu-dramas about killing a President.  Alfred Knopf would not publish a novel about how to kill the President.  All that would vanish.  And that’s pretty much where we are on the War on Terror.  It was quite brilliant in some sense, this cynical appraisal that the outraged Left was merely partisan not principled.

If we were to look at Iran, there was always only really one nonviolent way to stop Iran from becoming nuclear.  The only real way to do it without great tumult was to encourage the grassroots demonstrations of last spring and summer that might have led to some type of real rebellion against the Republican Guard.  Obama did not do that; he voted “present”.  Why?  Because such an idea of supporting grassroots, egalitarian, consensual reform perhaps is connected in his mind with an imposition of democracy in the Middle East, the so-called despised neo-con view: who are we, after all, as good multiculturalists, good moral equivalency proponents, to suggest that we know that our democracy, that Greek-based, Western word, would be any better or any worse than any other indigenous form of governance?  So suddenly when the president sees people embracing Western democracy in an almost pro-American fashion, it causes Obama to pause.

Any country that was suspicious of America, and did not like the United States during the era of Bush, was apparently right, and anyone that did, was suspect.  So Colombia, Israel, Britain—something’s wrong with those nations. Unlike Obama himself, they liked the United States under George Bush.   Iranians demonstrating are somewhat suspicious.

So we voted “present” on the demonstrations, as Obama is well equipped to deal with an anti-American strongman, but not so with pro-American, pro-Democratic reformers.

Remember in the Al Arabiya interview, the first one he gave, Obama said in effect that a charismatic person of nontraditional ancestry like himself—and he mentioned his middle name, Hussein—something had been absolutely taboo during the campaign—would resonate with people in the Middle East.  In his way of thinking, only a non-traditional, charismatic, rhetorician of African-American ancestry could deal with a revolutionary figure like an Ahmadinejad .So there was no utility, no singularity in supporting pro-American reformers; anyone could do that. But a Chavez? An Assad? Only an Obama is up to the task.

And again, Obama didn’t understand the danger of Iran.  (When you see administration flaks writing articles suggesting that we can deter Iran, you know that it’s pretty much a done deal that Iran is going to become nuclear.)  Yet the problem isn’t whether we can deter them or not (you can argue about whether the theocrats really want to find the missing imam and have paradise and thus are not subject to the laws of deterrence.)

No, the problem is that if they are nuclear, they will cause a collective, continual, non-stop sense of dread in Israel.  People will never know whether they can be deterred or not.  They’ll never know from one day to another what a theocrat will say. All that will have a cumulative effect, as we heard last night, quite presciently by the Senator—that more people will want to emigrate out of Israel, that more people live tense and unhappy lives.  It’s sort of putting a gun to somebody’s head, and saying, “I’m going to turn the six-bullet chamber and see whether the one bullet fires—maybe or maybe not.  It’s a form of nuclear Russian roulette, and it will have an emotional toll on Israel.  Obama doesn’t seem to get that.

Secondly, he doesn’t understand the historical role of the United States toward Israel.  The rules of the game were pretty much the same for the last 40 to 50 years, at least since the 1967 war.  The Arab world had oil.  The Arab world embraced terrorism.  The Arab world had numbers.  Therefore, most countries abroad made the necessary calculations and favored Israel’s opponents.  That included everybody from France to Germany to Turkey to the entire Middle East to the Russians.

The United States alone—being an exceptionally moral place— felt, given the Holocaust and given the propensities of some nations in the world, and given the ethnic cleansing of the Jewish community after the 1967 war from the major Arab capitals, that there was no one else to protect this tiny, quite special country.    Therefore, we, alone, will do something that, in terms of realpolik may or may not be in our national interests, but it surely reflects our values.  And, therefore, we won’t nominate partisans like Charles Freeman or Samantha Power to posts of key importance in the Middle East.  We don’t quibble over settlements in Jerusalem, since we know that in any two-state solution, that Arabs will be free to live in Israel while any Israeli who wants to become a citizen of Palestine and reside in the West Bank’s may have to have his head examined, because he’ll reside in mortal danger.

In short, an asymmetrical situation—we of good sense and good will, we all knew that.  Mr. Obama either does not know that or does not care, or believes there is a moral equivalence between a PA or Hamas strongman and an elected Israeli government.

So we witness the first time, I think since Harry Truman’s initial support, that we have an Administration that not only doesn’t appreciate the role of Israel, but pretty much has leaned toward its opponents.  And so far this is all academic.  We can quibble about settlements, or, who was snubbed today or that Biden blew his temper. All that is trivial and doesn’t matter, because none of these fissures will become apparent until the next war takes place.

But, but, when the next war takes place, watch out—and there will be another war. There’s always a war more likely when the United States distances itself a bit from Israel because it gives the green light to bad actors, whether they’re in Lebanon or Syria or on the West Bank or in the Arab world in general.  So, there will be another war, and then we will see Obama’s true attitude when questions come up like, “Are you going to immediately supply F16 replacement parts or delay a bit?”  “Are you going to give bunker busters now or next year?”  Are you going to supply patriot missile battery replacements or hold out for a concession?”  And that will be the make-or-break moment.  There will be 1973 hysterics over whether we should/should not supply quickly/slowly/not at all key points to an Israel at war.

Let us turn to the larger powers of the world, especially three—India, China, and Russia.  These same four or five principles in his foreign policy stand out once again.  Take India, for example. It saw over 60 percent of Indians express a positive view of the United States during the Bush Administration, which, after all, was supportive of free trade; India expanded its exports.  It did have a colonial past, but it’s a confident nation that wishes to take on anyone in a global free market.  It’s an English-speaking, pro-American ally—and therefore, it’s sort of now suspect, especially due to its rivalry with Islamic Pakistan.  So if you look at Indian-U.S. relations, they’re not as good as they were, as if we are troubled that Bush was once popular there.

In opposition to that, look at Russia.  Anybody in this room senses that it still has a 19th-Century sense of self, albeit empowered by oil. If it is not to recapture, at least it seeks to reestablish, a sphere of influence in the former Soviet Republics and perhaps even in Eastern Europe.

Again, Obama’s way of thinking seems to be that since Russia was recently anti-American, and anti-Bush, therefore, it’s somebody to reach out to, given their shared, mutual suspicion of the last eight Bush years. So we’re reaching out; that means that if you were in the Ukraine or if you’re in Georgia or if you’re in Poland or Czechoslovakia, you are a de facto neutral now.  We’re not interested in you as much as we are with the Russians. Please do not find yourself in a crisis, because we will not adjudicate it on the basis of shared democratic values, but rather realpolitik reach-out to Russia.

And then there is China, and here’s where we grasp the importance of the spiraling debt.  We don’t really know what Obama feels about pressuring China on Tibet or human rights.  On the one hand, they pose still a supposedly revolutionary regime.  Anita Dunn, after all, said a hero of hers was Mao.

But the Dali Lama, human rights, Tibet—all these questions play second fiddle to the one sword over our heads, and that’s U.S. debt.  When China holds over a trillion dollars of US bank notes, and, more importantly, anticipates very quickly to own another trillion, then America really has lost a lot of leverage or foreign policy options with China. I think it’s very telling that this administration is essentially saying to the Chinese, “I know that 400 million Chinese, of a billion person population, have no access at all to health care, and have never gone to a Westernized doctor, but we would still like to borrow another trillion dollars from you so we can have a socialized medical system for our own.”  That’s an untenable foreign policy—asking a rival to finance what we demand for ourselves, and what they would not consider for their own.

Among the first things the Chinese inquired about on their recent visit to Washington was about healthcare, because they’re starting to see that their citizens are supposed to work 12 hours a day and accumulate cash to lend us at low interest and to expand the entitlements that they themselves don’t have and have no plan on extending for their own population.  Again, I cannot stress enough that’s untenable.

If we look at Europe, it’s very fascinating what’s happened—summed up by “Be careful what you wish for.”  We all know that the Europeans, especially the proverbial European Street, are still in love with Obama, especially his efforts to adopt a European paradigm.  At least, they felt that he is now a partner in statism, and they the model.  He has become a Christian Democrat or a socialist Democrat, so all is wonderful.

Not quite. Note that the European leadership itself is very skeptical.  Karen mentioned that we went on a trip two years ago, and had a reception at a garden residence  in Versailles. It was there a French officer said to me, “Hey, everybody loves Obama, no problem.  But remember, we’re the Obama; there’s not room for two of us!”  And what he meant by that was that European leaders had understood the rules of the game, and they were essentially and cynically that the United States runs a raucous, wide-open, free-spending, capitalist, free-trading economy and that sucks in European goods, is very innovative, remains the fountainhead for western technology and innovation, western finance, and is also the key to the trans-Atlantic alliance. It’s really an American-dominated alliance, and we subsidize the defense of Europe.  And then in exchange for that somewhat embarrassing situation, out of envy the Europeans ankle-bite us in Der Spiegel or in Le Monde.

So this same French general went on to the effect, “Don’t you guys understand the relationship?  You’re supposed to take care of Iran, and we’re supposed to make fun of you the next day in Le Monde, and everybody’s happy.  And then we don’t get nuked.  That’s the story.  Does this Obama understand that?”  And this was before Obama was elected.

What we see now is that Obama didn’t understand that relationship, and the Europeans are getting their worst nightmarish dream come true. In other words, we’re going to have more of a static, controlled-economy that will not buy as much European goods; it will start to entertain something like the  state-aided Toyota, Citroen, or Mercedes-like auto industries—part government/part state—that will try to demonize companies like a rival Toyota.  We in America at last will start acting like European and Japanese state-subsidized partnerships between government and industry, and that’s not in the European’s interest.

We will also start, as these deficits start to climb, we will also start to question, why in the world, as true-blue statists and socialists, do we embrace so much military expenditure protecting Europe. That inevitably will come up.  As a corollary there is no more special trans-Atlantic relationship in general as it pertains to Britain.  A member of the Obama team put it something like this, “We don’t think there’s anything special in it.”  And that can be seen from the trivial—to the snubbing of Mr. Brown or sending back the bust of Churchill—to the profound.

But the Europeans really did get what they wanted, and they’ve now got somebody who does not believe that the Western tradition, in general, and the European role in it, in particular, are anything exceptional, other than we both have a questionable past plagued by racism and colonialism.  And so I think that we are going to have real divides between Europe and ourselves.

We could go on and on and on like this in tracing how the assumptions of the last thirty years in the academia and on the left have now been reified in the foreign policy of President Obama.  But let me just finish by suggesting that we’ve been here before.  I’ve been reading a great deal again about the administration of Jimmy Carter.  And what I was struck was this: while everybody tends to make fun of Jimmy Carter’s outreach and therapeutic foreign policy, that was not so, at least in the beginning. Go back and read what people were saying, not in 1979, but during 1977 and ’78.  Many were infatuated with Jimmy Carter.  His polls on foreign policy were running 55 to 60 in the positive percentiles.  He gave a heralded Notre Dame speech about the no “inordinate fear” of Communism.  He had warned the Argentines about human rights.  He had shown distance from the Shah.  I think it was UN Ambassador Andrew Young had said flattering things about Khomeini.  After Nixon, all that meant we were to be liked again abroad.

Indeed, everybody, except our enemies,  thought that the world was coming together and that there was no downside from all this ecumenicalism.   There wasn’t—at least for a while.

But what we didn’t realize in 1977 and 1978, was that the bad actors in the world were watching very carefully, and in effect saying, “Who is going to test this utopian fool first?”  Then suddenly, 1979 came along, and the Chinese decided they were just going to invade Vietnam and punish them as they saw fit.  And then we saw that the Russians had no fear of backing insurrections throughout Central America.  And then we saw how brashly they invaded Afghanistan.  And then we saw there was something called Radical Islam.  And then we saw that there was going to be hostages taken in Teheran, and we couldn’t really do something about this terrible year 1979— other than ration gasoline and boycott the Olympics.  And within about six to seven months, the entire world became chaotic.

I think that’s what the lesson is.  Most adventurers in the world today are in a holding pattern.  They’re watching very carefully the US policy on nuclear weapons, disarmament, our attitudes toward traditional alliances like NATO, our attitude toward Venezuela vs. Colombia, our attitudes toward domestic terrorist attempts by radical Islamists.  What will we do about the South Koreans’ worries? The changing scenarios that we see with Japan? And they’re coming to the conclusion that if one were a North Korea or a  China, vis-à-vis, Taiwan, or a Russia, vis-à-vis, the Ukraine, or you’re Mr. Chavez, vis-à-vis, Colombia, or you’re Turkey, vis-a-via, Greece and Cypress—in any of these traditional hotspots—gone now is the old fear that George Bush or his predecessors might be a little crazy and you never knew what they were going to do—except that aggression might earn you a firm and potentially catastrophic response.

And so we’re in a waiting game, for we have sowed a very dangerous crop, and now we’re waiting for a bitter harvest, in a fashion like the year 1979. I fear it is going to just take one gambler to call Mr. Obama’s bluff and in essence, call our hand, and say what you’re going to do about it?  And that choice will determine whether that’s the end of such a dangerous gambit or an invitation to many, many more.

Thank you very much.  I think if anybody has a question or two, I’ll be happy to answer them.

Audience Member: We have an alliance with non-Communist China. We are supposed to go to war with them and defend them if mainland China attacks them.  What do you think Obama will do in the case there is an attack by China?  Do you think we should get out of that alliance we have with Taiwan?  What is your advice on that?

Victor Hanson:  I think Obama would say to China, “this doesn’t make sense.”  Taiwan is heavily invested in China.  It’s counterproductive in theory.  And that argument is absolutely sound; it would make no sense, such aggression.  But it would be the same argument once made to Hitler of “you shouldn’t go into Poland.  There’s no need to go into Poland.  You have plenty of lebensraum.”  Look at, today— Germany’s got a larger population, and smaller territory.  They didn’t need then—and they do not need now, living room—as if reason had anything to do with September 1939.

But in Obama’s way of thinking, states go to war for logical purposes, they don’t go to war for the irrational, for age-old honor and fear and sense of stature and pride. Yet so often that’s what they actually do go to war for.  So in his rational world view, there’s no mechanism to account for the irrational other than the appeal to soaring rhetoric and legal logic.  So I think he would say to China, “This absolutely doesn’t make sense.”  And they would say, “Maybe it doesn’t, but we’re going to do it anyway for the pleasure of it, if we please.”

And I don’t think we have prepared the American people to say, “Are you willing to lose an  American life to protect Taiwan,” because, to do that, Obama would have to make this argument: if you do not support Taiwan, then you probably won’t support the Philippines, and you probably won’t support South Korea, and you probably won’t support Japan.  And what’s going to happen is that you’re going to turn a Democratic and capitalist sphere of prosperity and freedom into a Communist China sphere of influence.  And that is just one scenario.

The other is that Japan— which, if we don’t ensure deterrence, I predict could make 4,000 nukes tomorrow and they would work like Hondas, they would not work like North Korea’s. So you would have a nuclear Japan, a nuclear Taiwan, and a nuclear South Korea.  That could be good or bad, but that’s what you would have—a far more volatile region.

So every one of those places has enormous symbolic importance.  I think what Bush did was let people know not to do rash things, because we’re unpredictable and we might do something harsh if you try something stupid.  Obama in essence signals in advance, “The world is a logical place, we’re rational fellows, I’m going to talk to you the way I did my Harvard Law dean.”  And, unfortunately, so many people in the world that cause trouble simply think with their reptilian brains.  They don’t have a therapeutic view of the world or Obama’s refined sense of self.

Manny Klausner: When you cataloged a lot of the things that Obama has done since he came in and when you focused on his antipathy to Bush, but his pursuit of Bush policies. . . .

Victor Hanson:  Yes.

Manny Klausner: I’d like to ask if you could amplify a little bit your thoughts as to whether Obama is cynical, rather he’s ruthlessly devious and manipulative, how much does he exemplify of the Salinski approach to using the words of the other side that you don’t believe in, but you just try to seduce people or mislead them, and you lie through your teeth because the end justifies the means?

Victor Hanson:  I think he’s mostly cynical in terms of the War Against Terror.  I think he understood once he was President, at least, or maybe even in the campaign when he was briefed, that the reasons that we had not been attacked from September 11th onward, were  due to things like tribunals and renditions and predators and  elements of the Patriot Act. We inflicted a crushing defeat on Al Qaeda in Anbar Province.  We killed, off the record the military will tell you, we killed thousands of people in Iraq who had bad intent, not just in Iraq, but elsewhere.

So this policy of anti-terrorism, however it was character by the left, was actually working as we see.  So Obama came into office and informed people came to him and said, “You know what?  These predators are killing a lot of suspects who need to be killed.  And, you know what?  I don’t know what to do with Guantanamo.  Where are we going to put these guys?  All the people overseas who want it closed don’t want to take their own citizens.  They’re telling us off the record they don’t want them.  And you know what?  We’re doing renditions all over the world.  And you know what?  This Petraeus-Bush Plan in Iraq seems to be working.  There was almost nobody killed in December.  Can you imagine that?  There was lots of Americans killed in Chicago, but almost no Americans in Iraq.”

And so they came to him, and Obama said, no problem, that he would adjust the narrative.  I’m not saying he said this.  But he was thinking, no problem, I didn’t really mean all this stump shrillness anyway.  All I have to do is just adopt these protocols—never give anybody credit who created them, and then in some cases “virtually” close things.  I’ll virtually close Guantanamo.  I’ll virtually try KSM in New York.  And I will change the relevant names to overseas contingency operations against man-made disasters, and I’ll outlaw the term Islamic extremism.  And, he thought, the left is so bankrupt that they won’t say a thing.  And Hollywood will never make another Rendition or Redacted or Rendition. And Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan will be ancient history. And they will not dare criticize me for doing what Bush did because they don’t want to lose universal healthcare, amnesty, or cap and trade or question my godhead. So he sized up the left perfectly.  He absolutely did.  I think that’s cynical.  Yet in some sense I’m glad he did.

And by the way, there’s a corollary for Republicans and conservatives— they’re bewildered.  They don’t know on the one hand, whether to get angry at him because he tarred and feathered George Bush on really key issues of national security.  We had over 200,000 people fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, while that opportunist ran around the country declaring the surge was lost.  He droned on before Petraeus in the hearings.  He in essence made fun of all these things.  But on the other hand, he now as president has kept them and they’re working. That’s amazing.

So conservatives are really in a quandary.  I think that was cynical.

Audience Member: Do you foresee any consequences to Obama announcing that he will not use nuclear weapons even if we’re attacked with chemical and biological weapons?

Victor Hanson:  Yes, I think it’s unfortunate. And what I mean by that is, if I could reduce or distill the logic to, say an Iran, it seems to be something like: ‘there’s no need to get a nuclear weapon.  Even if you let some anthrax off or use nerve gas agents in an attack, we’re still not going to nuke you.  So why would you want a nuclear weapon?’

I think the problem with that logic is that if you start saying all that in advance when Iran does not have a nuclear weapon, Iran, rather than thinking, “Wow, these are really magnanimous people that are trying to reach out to us”, their attitude instead will probably be, “If he’s going to reach out and give us all this assurance before we have a nuclear weapon, just think what he’ll do after we have one.”

And that’s the danger.

So some of this is symbolic, rather than changing radically US policy.  But symbolic gestures are what can cause war so often.  Any other questions?

Audience Member: Towards the end of your talk, you were mentioning how we’d been here before and you were talking about Jimmy Carter.  And I was just wondering, do you think it’s the same?  Because it seems to me it’s much worse this time, you know.

Victor Hanson:  The same what?

Audience Member:  Well, do you think we’re facing the same level of danger or chaos in the world?  It seems like it’s much worse this time than what happened when Jimmy Carter let everything fall apart.

Victor Hanson:  Well, for all the talk about the end of the Cold War, what was dangerous about Jimmy Carter was he failed to grasp the rise of Radical Islam.  And you can talk about Lebanon.  You can talk about the East Africa bombings.  You can talk about the USS Cole, the first World Trade Center.  But all of those incidents in a strange sense go back to one incident.  Radical Islam came on the scene with the storming of the US Embassy and the rise of Khomeinism.

Had Jimmy Carter said privately to the Khomeini regime, “You’re going to release the hostages, and if you don’t do it, you’re not going to have a military, an Air Force, a Navy, or the Republican Guard in the next 15 days,” then I think the regime would have balked. We could have taken out their entire air force in a matter of hours in 1979.

But even if such defiance did not save the hostages (and I think it would have earned their release), it would have saved more lives than were lost in the subsequent three decades.  So most of our problems with Radical Islam came from the bad example of the Iranian hostage crisis—as the hostage-taker Mr. Ahmadinejad knew from the start.

There were other things that were stupid, the Iran Contra and all that.  But, nevertheless, that was a key moment.

And if you look Russia—Russia’s not supposedly Soviet-like in intent anymore—but if you look again, it still has nuclear weapons, it still has territorial ambitions, it still frightens Eastern Europe.  And you add China into the equation with all its capital and financial clout, and I think the world is just as dangerous as it was in 1979, if not more so, given U.S debt and tentativeness.

And there’s one other thing—I am not a big fan of Jimmy Carter, in fact, I think he perhaps proved to be one of the worst of American Presidents that we’ve ever had.  But, compared to Barack Obama, he came into office with executive experience.  He was in the Navy.  He was a one-term governor of Georgia.  Mr. Obama has no similar executive experience whatsoever.  We knew a little bit about Carter. We know in comparison nothing about Barack Obama.  It’s one of the most stealthy Presidencies I’ve ever seen.

If we asked John McCain, during the campaign, for information, he released his entire US Naval Academy transcript.  He released thousands of pages of his medical records, and on and on.  We got one paragraph of summation of the Obama medical records.  We got no transcript from Occidental, none from Columbia.  We don’t know anything about his undergraduate record.  He could be much smarter or much slower than we suspect, but we wouldn’t know and we’re not going to know.  We’re never going to know.  We do know that with Mr. Ayers and Rev. Wright what we don’t know was far greater than what we did know. Yes?

Audience Member:  Victor, I’m ashamed to say this.  But you write a lot faster than I read, and I haven’t, most especially, read the piece that Karen mentioned that might touch on this.  But one of the things you didn’t address, and I would really invite you to explore with us is one aspect of the threats that you have very well described otherwise that is, I think unique in history, though you would be able to better judge than I, is the internal threat in this country arising from the so-called stealth Jihad or civilization Jihad Dawal.

And to the extent that what we’re seeing in terms of the suppression of our understanding or even our ability to discuss this enemy of, I call it Sharia I think the best term, is, in part, at least, a function of the agenda of those promoting this kind of program.  Have we seen something like this before in history?

Victor Hanson: I don’t think so.

Audience Member:  And what do you think we should best be doing about it?

Victor Hanson:  No, I don’t think so.  In   2009, as you know, there were more terrorist attempts, plots uncovered, in any year since 9/11.  So we do know that all of the Al Arabiya interview, the myth making in Cairo in June where an Islamic pedigree was adduced for everything from the Enlightenment to the Renaissance, a General Casey saying that his big fear was that diversity would be a casualty of the Major Hasan assault—all of that stuff, the report from the former Secretary of the Army that Islamic terrorism was equivalent to other sorts of extremism.  All of that proved of no utility because we still had a plot uncovered to blow up a subway, the so-called panty bomber Christmas Day, the Ft. Hood killing, and more still to come.

Raymond Ibrahim was here yesterday, and if you look at his Al Qaeda Reader, what’s fascinating about Bin Laden and Dr. Zawahiri is that they list all the reasons that caused 9/11.  I counted them.  There were 19.  Yet they include things like the lack of campaign finance reform and the failure to sign Kyoto Treaty.  (Laughter)

So what I’m saying is that these people really do monitor what they think our response will be.  And whether it’s fair or not, a lot of them think that Obama is more than usual sympathetic to front-line states against Israel, that he bought into the argument that Israel weakens American security elsewhere.  That he bought into the idea that Islam was a catalyst for western achievement.  He bought into the idea that he wants to close Guantanamo. All that is very dangerous because it suggests to the unhinged that if you do something, you may not face the same kind of consequences that you otherwise would.  The  fact that you probably will, doesn’t matter; it’s the perception. That’s what scares me.

Audience Member:  Dr. Hanson, I think on a practical level, the issue I’d be most curious to hear you synthesize is your observation that Obama’s sort of multicultural narcissism rejection of Europe as an Anglo-Colonial type of system, how you reconcile that with his seeming infatuation with Europe economically, the growing welfare state collectivist continent.  How those things fit together.

Victor Hanson:  Well, it actually is not a dichotomy, or a polarity as we might think, and here’s why.  He does not embrace Europe, Churchill, the Anglo-American alliance that saved civilization in World War II, the uniquely European Enlightenment, the Renaissance,  all the things that made Europe so singular today and in the past.

What he instead embraces is a generation of 1968 in Europe, who  themselves have rejected their own past; the Schroder-type statists, the Green Party Movement in Germany, the hard left in Britain, the anti-American French elite. What he sees is that there is a western elite that has rejected the western tradition.  And, therefore, he can be like them.  He can be a state-socialist like them.  He can be an anti-American like them, and he doesn’t have to like them.

So yes, there is a contradiction, he’s pro-new Europe as anti-old Europe, and yet he rejects Europe as a historical force, he rejects the old Europe and he likes the socialist, anti-Europe new Europe.  Odder still, he flies around in this jet and he promises a hundred billion here and a hundred billion there. and he talks about this summit and everybody’s coming to him for advice, in all of that, he never makes the obvious connection: Why is it that I, Barack Obama, have the most influence in the world?  Why is it that I get to make the decisions?  Why is it that I have the most sophisticated military?  Why is it that my economy is what everybody’s looking to?

He never succeeds to make the connection that the reason is that we have a singular, exceptional Constitution.  The capitalist system produces goods and services like none other.  We have a civil society.  We solved the multiracial problem.  This is the most amazing contribution.  And all that has translated into all these prerogatives— wealth, leisure, opportunities—that Obama enjoys, both before and as President.  And, therefore, every time we go by a grave, we want to thank God for those people who died in Okinawa or thank God at for those who fell Shiloh.  And he doesn’t get that—that he is a beneficiary of a most generous successful tradition whose logic result is his own privilege.

So all that he does comes on the fumes of all these generations who did this. And our president of all people doesn’t have enough character or insight to at least acknowledge that he is a beneficiary of all this.  And I think that’s the most shameless thing about it, a sense of indifference to the very protocols and traditions that allow a U.S. president to have power and influence unrivaled in the word—all impossible if much of Mr. Obama own agenda had been enacted in the past. Thank you.



Posted 05/05/2010 ET


The controversies over the Arizona immigration plan and the Obama Administration’s response to the oil spill in the Gulf may not seem related, but they have a key common characteristic: both originate in the failure of Washington.

In both cases, President Obama faces a real danger of a political backlash from which he will be unable to recover.

More importantly, they are both part of a rapidly evolving pattern of big government failure that will be a fundamental challenge to our country over the next quarter century.

Federal Failure on Immigration and Border Control

Before anyone criticizes the citizens of Arizona who are worried about their lives and their safety, they should focus on the abject failure of the federal government to control the border and enforce our immigration laws. 

Consider the facts on the ground:

• 15% of Arizona’s state prisoners are illegal immigrants;
• The number of kidnappings in Phoenix, Ariz., has exploded as the Mexican drug cartels have brought their violence North of the border;
• Two Phoenix police officers have been killed in recent years by illegal immigrants;
• A cattle rancher near the Mexican border was recently killed by a drug smuggler;
• Just last week a deputy sheriff was wounded in a gun battle with men suspected of being drug smugglers from Mexico.

In response to the dangers they perceived from Washington’s failure, 64% of Arizonans overwhelmingly support their new immigration law.

Nationally, 51% of Americans who have heard of the law support it, with 39% opposed

This is despite the frequent distortions and flat-out lies about the facts of the bill being reiterated in the mainstream media (Byron York and Andy McCarthy have been especially good at setting the record straight.)

The Obama Administration will alienate the vast majority of Americans if it insists on attacking the Arizona law instead of solving the problems of an uncontrolled border and a failed immigration system.

The right answer for Washington is to meet its responsibilities: 1) Control the border; 2) Pass common sense immigration reform, including a guest worker program and intense enforcement aimed at illegal employers (without whom there would be no magnet to draw in people outside the law); and 3) Ensure that all Americans can live in safety in a law abiding country.

At that point the Arizona law would become moot and unneeded.  Let’s solve the problem, not the symptom.

Federal Failure in Louisiana…Round 2

President Obama faces another challenge in the controversy surrounding the federal government’s response to the oil spill in the Gulf.

Of course, this controversy has echoes of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, which was enabled by government, both in the failure to maintain the levee and pumping system and in taking too long to respond. 

The Bush Administration’s inability to recognize these failures and fix them was a major factor in its loss of public support (which never recovered to pre-Katrina levels).

Today, it is not yet clear what degree of responsibility the federal government has for the oil spill disaster.  But every day we get new pieces of information that suggest this spill could have been contained if the federal government had acted swiftly and competently.

We know that Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes said the Deepwater Horizon was inspected less than two weeks before the explosion.  However, without knowing the cause of the accident, it is impossible to know if something was missed that would have prevented the explosion or failure of the “blowout preventer” that should have shut off the oil flow.

We also know that it took over eight days for federal government to deem the spill a disaster of “national significance” and fully devote federal resources to the problem.  In fact, on April 23, the Coast Guard was still claiming there was no leak.

Last week, Louisiana lawmakers including Gov. Bobby Jindal pointedly criticized the federal government’s slowness in committing quantifiable resources to containing the spill. 

Furthermore, Ron Gouget, who formerly managed the oil spill recovery department of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has made the point that there has been an oil spill clean-up plan on the books since 1994, but federal officials took a full week before attempting to execute that plan.  This is partly because, despite this standing plan, the federal government did not have a single fire boom on hand to execute it.

Even the liberal New York Times has called the timetable of the government’s response “damning”.  

The Obama Administration now faces dual challenges in the Gulf and in Arizona. If it misunderstands and fails to respond effectively to these challenges, it could suffer an equally serious loss of public support.
The Future of Offshore Development

This analysis does not in any way exclude British Petroleum (BP) from responsibility.

Even though the rig was owned and operated by a private contractor and the cause of the explosion and equipment failure is not yet known, BP has rightly pledged to pay for the Gulf spill’s cleanup. 

The spill will cause enormous environmental and economic damage to the Gulf region.  Worst case estimates suggest that the spill could reach the East Coast.  Millions of Americans who make their living from the ocean will be affected. 

However, despite this disaster, it is clear that offshore development must continue. 

In fact, it must expand.

The spill, while tragic, does not change any of the underlying facts about America’s current or future energy and national security needs:

• Offshore drilling is still a viable source of new jobs for a struggling economy.  One study shows that expanded offshore drilling could create as much as a million new jobs a year over the next three decades
• Offshore drilling is still a key source of potential revenue for states struggling to balance their budgets.  In 2009, offshore drilling generated more than $2.7 million for Gulf states, as well as nearly $1 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund;
• Offshore drilling is still an essential component of a strategy to supplant the 11 million barrels of oil per day ($935 million) we import from other countries, including dangerous dictatorships that fund terrorism.

This is why the cynical attempts from the left to use this disaster as an excuse to stop all development in the Gulf and elsewhere are so misguided.

There are over 3,500 oil platforms in the gulf producing 1.2 million barrels a day.  They support tens of thousands of jobs, with about 35,000 workers engaged in Gulf offshore activities at any one time.  At the current price of $85 a barrel, shutting down all offshore drilling in the Gulf would force us to send an additional $102 million every day to foreign countries.  That number will only increase as the summer approaches.

Those analysts who note this was the first American offshore well disaster since 1969 indirectly make the case for continued development. A once in 41-year event is something to be prepared for, not something that should be allowed to increase our dependence on foreign dictatorships for energy.

Similarly, those who point to the Exxon Valdez spill often fail to note that shipping oil is more likely to lead to a spill than drilling.

Investigate. Fix.  Move Forward.

Ultimately, this is a question about the character of America.

Will our response to this disaster be to stop, litigate, and lose our nerve?

Or will it be the historic American response to challenges such as these: investigate, fix, and move forward with a safer system than before? 

When two airliners collided over the Grand Canyon in 1956 with disastrous fatalities, followed by two similar accidents in 1958, the answer was not shutting down the commercial airline industry.  The answer was developing the air traffic control system which has made commercial air travel much, much safer than driving a car.

After the 1979 incident at Three Mile Island nuclear plant, an independent commission was appointed to investigate exhaustively the cause of that event.  The response was not to abandon nuclear power, which produces 20% of electricity in the United States.
After the levees failed in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, an independent investigation determined that new levees should have specific engineering upgrades, more erosion protection, and that there should be better communication between the federal and local governments. The response was not to force residents to abandon New Orleans forever.

Similarly, we should take the BP disaster very seriously.  Yesterday, American Solutions called for an independent commission to investigate the spill, paralleling the commissions that investigated Three Mile Island and the Challenger explosion.

Those who favor offshore development must respond with greater intensity than those who oppose development and have the luxury of unthinking opposition with no thought to the economic and national security consequences.

We should support a vigorous investigation that determines what investments could have avoided it and what the most effective cleanup system would have been.  And then we should support a lean, effective government to implement those findings.

Effective Government, not Big Government

The Founding Fathers were for limited but effective government.

Peter Drucker, the great information age management expert, warned again and again that big government was inevitably bureaucratic and ineffective.

Alvin and Heidi Toffler have repeatedly warned that government is getting slower while the modern world is getting faster.

I have written and spoken before about how government has become the fourth recent bubble (after IT, housing, and the derivatives market — it is overleveraged, underperforming, and fundamentally dishonest about its underlying stability. The collapse of the government bubble will be even more disruptive than the previous three.

More and more, we are seeing that ever growing government is no longer just a threat to our wallet; it is a threat to our personal safety. Both in Arizona and the Gulf, we are being reminded that a massive federal government has been massively ineffective.

A limited federal government can better focus attention and resources on its core responsibilities, which absolutely include controlling the border and large scale disaster recovery.

It is time to reform Washington by returning power and responsibility back to the state and local governments. 

Your friend,


The Case of the Mysterious Disappearing Religion

The Case of the Mysterious Disappearing Religion

by Monica CrowleyIslam? Islam? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? Anyone?

We awake to news that after extraordinary police work, investigators have made an arrest in the attempted car bombing of Times Square in New York.  Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani native-turned-naturalized-U.S.-citizen, was taken into custody late last night. He was naturalized last year, and shortly thereafter, made a trip to Peshawar, Pakistan–a hotbed of Islamic terrorist activity and recruitment.

I have read countless reports about the arrest, in newspapers and websites big and small.  So far, I have not seen a single mention of his faith.  Not a single reference to his being Muslim.  We’re left to deduce that by his Pakistani ethnicity and name.

Political correctness has stripped us of our ability to be brutally honest about the nature of the threat we face.  It’s not from a bunch of maniacal Catholics or Jews or Hindus or Buddhists.  The lethal threat is coming from radical Muslims.  Even after September 11, even after repeated terror attacks and attempts here and abroad, we still cannot be truthful and outspoken about it?  Pathetic.

This suicidal inability to call the enemy what it is comes straight from the top:  the President will not go anywhere near the words “Islam” and “terror” together.  His administration has contorted itself into all kinds of politically correct gymnastics to avoid making the connection, going so far as to term acts of terror as “manmade disasters” and the fight against it as “overseas contingency operations.”

He refused to speak the truth about the motivation of Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who killed 13 fellow Americans in the name of Islam, and would not make the connection with the Christmas Day bomber, Abdulmutallab.  He refused to “jump to conclusions” about what propelled them to try to kill Americans (although he had no problem “jumping to conclusions” about Sgt. Crowley of the Cambridge Police and the Arizona immigration law.)

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a ridiculous statement before the arrest, suggesting it could be “someone…that doesn’t like the health care bill.”

Bloomberg’s comment was idiotic, but he’s not the Commander-in-Chief.  Obama was notified of the arrest five minutes after midnight.  We’ve gotten a statement from his Attorney General, but as of 8:30am ET, still no statement from the Commander-in-Chief.

Unless and until we can call the enemy and what drives him to kill us what they are -­ Muslims propelled by their religious belief -­ we cannot and will not win this war.

Obama’s stealth attack on our legal foundations

Obama’s stealth attack on our legal foundations

Walt Elgin

Bowing to foreign power was not just a matter of misplaced etiquette. As its creeping socialism morphs into a quirky gallop, Obama’s State Department is supporting an International Criminal Court (ICC) with jurisdiction over what has always been sovereign U.S. powers:

…”Pragmatic cooperation” with the ICC-for example, helping it with investigations and sitting in on court bodies, [proponents argue] would give the U.S. a voice on decisions that affect its interests, such as helping the ICC define the “crime of aggression.” U.S. officials were stunned that a recent draft defining aggression was so wide-reaching that NATO would have been criminally liable in the 1999 Kosovo war…

…The ICC’s indictments have so far targeted nasty characters in Africa, but the court has always resisted outside oversight, especially from the U.S. What’s more, no amount of reform of the founding treaty will change the ICC’s inherent flaw. The ICC is a child of the doctrine of “universal jurisdiction,” which holds that courts can adjudicate crimes [by their definition] committed anywhere in the world.

And other Obama acolytes support a constitutional overhaul to allow more direct control to those in power, without the messiness of congressional action – as originally stipulated in the Constitution. Stephen Markman, Michigan Supreme Court Justice, has warned about Obama’s “living constitution” views :

…the important decisions would increasingly be undertaken by courts, especially by federal courts. It will be the California referendum process writ national, a process by which the decisions of millions of voters on matters such as racial quotas, social services funding, and immigration policy have been routinely overturned by single judges acting in the name of the Constitution – not the Framers’ Constitution, but a “constitution for our times,” a “living constitution,” resembling, sadly, the constitutions of failed and despotic nations across the globe…

As various advocates of a 21st century constitution have urged, [the constitution should] be interpreted to allow the invention of a host of new “rights,” and thus be construed to guarantee social or economic equality. However pleasing this might sound to some people, there should be no mistake: adopting this interpretation will supplant representative decision-making with the decision-making of unelected, unaccountable, and life-tenured judges.


Sarah Palin: The Businessman vs. the Bureaucrat

Sarah Palin: The Businessman vs. the Bureaucrat

The Businessman vs. the Bureaucrat
 Yesterday at 11:37am
In a year when Americans are desperate for job growth and frustrated with the reckless spending in Washington, the candidates running in the special election in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District epitomize the problem and the solution. It’s a race between a career Washington bureaucrat and a small business entrepreneur.

Born and raised in Pennsylvania’s beautiful 12th district, Tim Burns’ story is like that of millions of successful small business owners across the country. He started a pharmaceutical technology company out of the basement of his house and grew it to over 400 employees. He worked hard and gave back generously to his community, in part by starting a charity to help children with special needs. In his spare time, he’s a “hockey dad” coaching his sons’ team. Last year, he attended a local tea party and spoke passionately about the danger that the policies coming out of Washington pose for small business owners like him. Reflecting on that day, Tim said, “I had not considered running until after the tea parties, but I decided that I owed it to my two children, who are 14 and 12, to do something. We’re in a fight for the very life of our country.”

Tim spent his professional life building a business from scratch that employed Pennsylvanians, and now he would like to bring his common sense pro-free market message to Washington. I’m proud to offer my support to Tim Burns in his campaign to bring real job creation to Pennsylvania’s 12th district. Please join me in supporting his campaign. Visit Tim’s website here, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

It’s been said many times this year that America is at a crossroads, and the decision we make in November will decide the course of our children’s future. The choice in Pennsylvania’s 12th district couldn’t be more obvious. Let’s send the job-creator to Washington to get this economy moving again.

– Sarah Palin

They’re laughing at Obama overseas

They’re laughing at Obama overseas

Cliff Thier

If — according to very, very liberal NYT columnist Nicholas Kristoff –they’re laughing at Obama in Sudan, they’re certainly laughing at our President in Tehran. Kristoff writes:

Until he reached the White House, Barack Obama repeatedly insisted that the United States apply more pressure on Sudan so as to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe in Darfur and elsewhere.
Yet, as president, Mr. Obama and his aides have caved, leaving Sudan gloating at American weakness. Western monitors, Sudanese journalists and local civil society groups have all found this month’s Sudanese elections to be deeply flawed – yet Mr. Obama’s special envoy for Sudan, Maj. Gen. Scott Gration, pre-emptively defended the elections, saying they would be “as free and as fair as possible.” The White House showed only a hint more backbone with a hurried reference this week to “an essential step” with “serious irregularities.”
President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan – the man wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity in Darfur – has been celebrating. His regime calls itself the National Congress Party, or N.C.P., and he was quoted in Sudan as telling a rally in the Blue Nile region: “Even America is becoming an N.C.P. member. No one is against our will.”
Memo to Mr. Obama: When a man who has been charged with crimes against humanity tells the world that America is in his pocket, it’s time to review your policy.
In Iran, the stakes are a thousand times higher than in Sudan. Our national security is at stake, and that’s no laughing matter.