Democratic Frontrunners Are Wrong About Aid for Israel
Putting America’s annual $3.8 billion of military assistance to Israel on the chopping block makes for good politics.
But it makes no sense for U.S. national security.
BY JOHN HANNAH
DECEMBER 11, 2019
In a jarring moment during last month’s Democratic primary debate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, asked about Washington’s complicated relationship with Riyadh, lit into the Saudis for the murder of the U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, condemning the kingdom as a brutal, misogynistic dictatorship that “is not a reliable ally.” Then, without skipping a beat, he pivoted to an attack on Israel for its mistreatment of the Palestinians, particularly in Gaza—a tack that won a spontaneous outburst of applause from the attending audience. Seamlessly lumping together the Middle East’s only stable democracy with its most reactionary absolute monarchy, Sanders concluded, “we need to be rethinking who our allies are around the world.”
Of course, harsh criticism of Israel has long been a staple of the Sanders playbook. A tad more disconcerting was the apparent approval it triggered in the crowd. Condemnations by other candidates earlier in the evening of dangerous U.S. adversaries such as China, North Korea, and Russia didn’t seem to elicit nearly the same level of enthusiasm. Also hard not to notice was the fact that none of Sanders’s nine rivals on the stage rose to push back against the suggestion that the long-standing U.S. alliance with Israel should be up for reassessment. This was especially striking because in the days leading up to the debate, the Gaza-based Palestinian terrorist group Islamic Jihad had fired close to 500 rockets at Israeli population centers, sending tens of thousands of civilians into bomb shelters and shutting down schools and businesses in Tel Aviv, the country’s most important commercial hub.
In fairness, it’s possible that the format and rhythm of the debate simply didn’t allow for that type of intervention. On the other hand, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that, when it comes to Israel, a shift is indeed afoot in the Democratic Party—at least among its more progressive and activist base.
That trend was most visible in October, when several Democratic candidates in succession—including leading contenders such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg—joined Sanders in advocating for the position that the United States should consider withholding military aid if Israel pursued policies that undermined a two-state solution. Only one of the top-tier candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden, spoke out forcefully against the idea, calling it “absolutely outrageous” and a “gigantic mistake.”
Biden is right. It may increasingly be the case in today’s Democratic Party that putting America’s annual $3.8 billion of military assistance to Israel on the chopping block in service to the peace process makes for good politics. But it makes no sense as national security policy. The fact is that Israel’s recent emergence as one of the world’s most powerful industrial democracies has never been more important to the United States. And the value to U.S. interests of Israel’s world-class military, intelligence prowess, and cutting-edge science and technology sector is only likely to grow in the future.
In the last three presidential elections, the U.S. public—frustrated and weary from fighting so-called endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—has consistently supported the candidate (Barack Obama twice, Donald Trump once) who exhibited the greatest enthusiasm for reducing the country’s military commitments in the Middle East.Especially as the United States’ own dependence on oil exports from the region continues to decline, the long-term trajectory of U.S. retrenchment seems almost certain to continue. For its part, the U.S. military is also looking to draw back from the Middle East so it can divert more of its capabilities and energies to higher-priority missions, in particular the need to counter increasingly aggressive great-power competitors, China and Russia.
Yet even as it seeks to reduce its burdens, the United States still has important interests in the Middle East that need defending. It wants the region to be more stable. It wants to avoid significant disruptions in oil supplies that could wreak havoc on the economies of key trading partners. It wants to contain Iranian aggression, combat Islamist terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, deter the outbreak of major war, and ensure Israel’s security. Logic dictates that doing all that with less U.S. involvement means someone else will have to step up to help fill the void. That, in turn, puts a premium on reliable local allies that have both the will and the capability not just to defend themselves without the United States riding to the rescue but also to act effectively on their own across the Middle East to help advance major U.S. interests. With all due respect to Washington’s other longtime partners in the region and even Europe, it’s patently obvious that only one country comes close to meeting those criteria today: Israel.
Israel has, by an order of magnitude, the most powerful and operationally effective military in the Middle East. Its intelligence services rank among the world’s best, far outpacing any regional rival. It’s a technological superpower with leading research and development capabilities in priority national security areas for the United States, including cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, unmanned systems, missile defense, space, and anti-terrorism. Israel’s assessment of the most serious threats to Middle East security is nearly identical to Washington’s. And its government and population are unwaveringly pro-American, ready and willing to lend Israel’s full support to countering shared threats and securing key U.S. objectives.
With little fanfare, Israel in recent years has taken on sustained military missions that extend well beyond its historical preoccupation with the defense of its immediate borders. As Washington’s stomach for wielding hard power against the Middle East’s most dangerous challenges recedes, the new reality is that Israel has become a major exporter of security and extended deterrence to the broader region. Since at least 2017, it has been the only power in the world conducting regular military operations to push back successfully against Iranian forces and their expansionist designs. A kind of de facto division of labor has emerged whereby the United States restricts itself to punishing Iran and its regional proxies with harsh economic sanctions while Israel does the more difficult and dangerous work of directly confronting and containing Iranian power on the ground.
In Syria, probably the Middle East’s most strategically consequential battlefield of the past decade, Israel has reportedly attacked more than 1,000 targets affiliated with Iran. Almost singlehandedly, in fact, Israel has foiled Iran’s ambition to entrench itself militarily in Syria. Iran’s far-reaching plan to establish a series of land and naval bases, command a force of up to 100,000 pro-Iran fighters, and stockpile and deploy thousands of highly accurate rockets and missiles in Syria has been stillborn. Though garnering little attention, Israel has over the past four years inflicted one of the worst defeats ever suffered by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its imperial project to dominate the Middle East’s northern tier from Tehran to the Mediterranean Sea. The IRGC’s goal of replicating in Syria the same level of military power and threat that it built in Lebanon through Hezbollah has been almost completely thwarted by a sustained campaign of discreet Israeli military attacks and intelligence activities—all without triggering a larger war and conflagration. The United States—not to mention Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and much of the rest of the region threatened by rising Iranian hegemony—has quietly applauded from the sidelines without having to put any of its own forces at risk.
Though on a far lesser scale, Israel has over the last year extended its targeting campaign against Iran to Lebanon and Iraq as well, as the IRGC seeks to adjust for its failure in Syria by further building up its capabilities in those countries, especially by giving precision missiles to Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite militias. In Egypt, an under-the-radar but extensive program of Israeli military and intelligence support has proved essential to preventing extremist groups loyal to the Islamic State from taking over the strategically vital Sinai Peninsula. Israel has long played a similarly critical role in bolstering the security of neighboring Jordan. Meanwhile, in the eastern Mediterranean, as the region’s massive gas reserves become an increasingly important factor in global energy markets, Israeli defense capabilities will play a leading role in securing the area’s critical infrastructure, in cooperation with other stakeholders including Cyprus, Egypt, and Greece.
There’s every reason to believe that the demand for Israeli security assistance will only increase as U.S. disengagement continues apace. Already, it seems a near certainty that Israel is engaged in unprecedented, albeit covert, cooperation with several Gulf states, including the Saudis, to help them counter Iran and other extremist threats. Given the direct impact on its own interests, it’s easy to imagine Israel taking on much greater responsibilities for policing the Red Sea, or ensuring that Houthi rebels in Yemen don’t become the next repository of long-range Iranian missiles and drones capable of accurately striking strategic targets not only in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, but in Tel Aviv and Haifa as well.
In the 1970s, the administration of U.S. President Richard Nixon, preoccupied with the war in Vietnam, developed a “twin pillars” strategy for the Middle East. It relied on two local allies, the shah’s Iran and Saudi Arabia, to help counter Soviet meddling and enforce regional security. The strategy quickly crumbled when the shah was overthrown and the Saudis proved both unwilling and for the most part incapable of fulfilling their assigned role.
By contrast, Israel today is the real deal, a stable democracy and longtime ally that has consistently demonstrated the will, power, and operational effectiveness to do more to secure the Middle East from common threats, so the United States can do less. From countering Iranian imperialism and Islamist terrorism to protecting energy resources and vulnerable regional allies, Israel’s role in the region has become critically important for the United States. At a time when war fatigue and other global priorities are driving Washington to reduce its involvement in the Middle East, it’s increasingly apparent that Israeli power will be indispensable if the United States hopes to maintain a regional order that favors its interests.
In other words, Israel is America’s new pillar in the Middle East. Truth be told, it’s the only pillar. To jeopardize such a strategic asset on the altar of a Palestinian conflict that has dragged on chronically for decades, with no resolution in sight and the issue’s relative geopolitical significance in steep decline, would be a huge unforced error. Many of Washington’s most important Arab partners are now moving systematically to deepen their security cooperation with Israel, refusing to allow their national interests to be subjugated to one of the world’s most intractable disputes any longer. It would be an odd time for the United States to start moving in the opposite direction, as several of the Democratic candidates suggest, and throw into question its own tremendously beneficial defense relationship with Israel. That’s precisely the kind of strategic indulgence that a superpower bent on retrenchment can ill afford.
John Hannah is a senior counselor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, focusing on U.S. strategy. During the presidency of George W. Bush, he served for eight years on the staff of Vice President Cheney, including as the vice president’s national security advisor.
The story of an American who overcame should be told around the world
Clarence Thomas illustration by Linas Garsys more >
A black man, born into a dirt-poor family in a dirt-poor town in the deep and segregated south beats the odds, the obstacles and the bigots to become one of America’s most consequential legal thinkers, and an authority on the Founders’ vision. You might expect such a story to be told in every grade school and college in the country.
You’d be wrong. I’d wager that most young people, black or white, know little or nothing about the man to whom I’m referring. Of those who do, most probably don’t admire him. Many would revile him.
Their minds might be changed were they to watch the soon-to-be-released documentary:“Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words.”
At the preview I attended last week, the audience was moved to tears, laughter and a standing ovation. Yes, it was a conservative audience. But “We Shall Overcome,” was the anthem of the American Civil Rights Movement. And Clarence Thomas overcame. Big time. Americans, wherever they stand politically, should be inspired by that.
In this simple and elegant film, Justice Thomas looks into the camera and talks, responding to questions – prompts, really — from director Michael Pack. Mr. Thomas’ wife, Ginni, also provides recollections. Helping to tell the tale are news clips, archival materials, and marvelous photography of the Georgia low country.
Clarence Thomas was born in 1948, in Pin Point, an isolated settlement southeast of Savannah founded by freed slaves after the Civil War. Few in the community could read and write. Most spoke only Gullah, a creole of English and West African languages. Gullah was Mr. Thomas’ first language.
When Clarence was just two, his father abandoned the family. He, his brother and their mother lived in a rundown shack with no plumbing. After that burned down, the children went to live with their maternal grandfather who was tough, ornery and disciplined, and earned a living delivering oil and coal.
He sent Clarence to a segregated Catholic school. The nuns were caring and strict. He went on to enroll in a seminary but was disappointed by the church’s stance on civil rights, and the racism of some of his fellow seminarians. One reacted to the shooting of Martin Luther King Jr. by saying: “That’s good. I hope the son of a bitch dies.”
Clarence dropped out, much to the chagrin of his grandfather for whom quitting was a sin. In 1968, however, he won a scholarship to the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts. There, he joined the Black Power Movement and became a man of the radical left. But he did well academically and was accepted at Yale Law School.
His politics evolved. Among the reasons: He came to see “affirmative action” more as a stigma than a benefit, a reason for his achievements to be discounted. He regarded the battles that began in 1974 over busing as senseless because Boston’s public schools – white-only and black-only – were low-quality, a problem the political elites chose to ignore.
After earning his law degree he was hired by John Danforth, then the attorney general of Missouri, later a U.S. Senator. That led to positions in the Reagan administration, and then a judgeship on the U.S. Court of Appeals. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated Judge Thomas to the Supreme Court.
Four years earlier, leftist activists and their congressional allies had blocked Robert H. Bork’s appointment through an orchestrated campaign of vilification. Among the patently false accusations: that Judge Bork supported “segregated lunch counters.” (You’ll now find the verb “to bork” in the Oxford English Dictionary.)
The nomination of a black conservative was even more intolerable to those activists than Judge Bork’s had been. At first, Judge Thomas was attacked for his commitment to natural law, judicial restraint and originalism. The underlying objection: that he might not uphold Roe v. Wade.
When this approach didn’t produce the desired results, Anita Hill, a law professor who had once been his deputy, came forward to charge that he had “used work situations to discuss sex.”
In televised hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which included Joseph Biden and Edward Kennedy, Mr. Thomas furiously denied the charge, and accused his accusers of organizing “a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas.”
Polls showed the public believing Mr. Thomas over Ms. Hill 2-to-1. The Senate went on to confirm him 52 to 48.
At this point, you may be thinking: “Hey, Cliff! You write about foreign affairs! How is this relevant?” My answer: The United States is not exactly excelling in public diplomacy these days. (Note: I’m not weighing in on who’s to blame). So my counsel to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is to instruct every ambassador around the world to screen this film for local audiences.
He also should commission Mr. Pack to make a second documentary, one in which Justice Thomas speaks at greater length about his jurisprudence and his commitment to the Founders’ principles, making clear why George Will recently called Justice Thomas “America’s indispensable constitutionalist.” Such a film should be shown in universities abroad, especially in what we hopefully call the developing world.
“Created Equal” is the story of one exceptional American, but it’s also a story about America, a still-exceptional nation, one that, for all its many faults, provides unparalleled opportunity for those willing to work hard to overcome whatever and whomever they find in their way. Americans, wherever they stand politically, should be proud of that.
Clifford D. May is founder and president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and a columnist for the Washington Times.
Why Do They Hate Him So?
Democrats, NeverTrump Republicans, left-liberal celebrities, journalists, and academics all revile Donald Trump because he is trying and often succeeding to restore a conservative America at a time when his opponents thought that the mere idea was not just impossible but unhinged.
BY Victor Davis Hanson
October 20th, 2019
Joe Biden claims he wants to take Trump behind the gym and beat him up.
Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) jokes that she would like to go into an elevator with him and see Trump never come out alive. Robert De Niro has exhausted the ways in which he dreams of punching Trump out and the intonations in which he yells to audiences, “F—k Trump!”
The humanists and social justice warriors of Hollywood, from Madonna to Johnny Depp, cannot agree whether their elected president should be beheaded, blown up, stabbed, shot, or incinerated.
All the Democratic would-be presidential nominees agree that Trump is the worst something-or-other in history—from human being to mere president.
Former subordinates like Anthony Scaramucci, Omarosa, and Michael Cohen insist that he is a racist, a sexist, a crook, a bully, or mentally deranged—and they all support their firsthand appraisals on the basis they eagerly worked for him and were unceremoniously fired by him.
The so-called deep state detests him. An anonymous op-ed writer in the September 5, 2018 New York Times bragged about the bureaucracy’s successful efforts to ignore Trump’s legal mandates—a sort of more methodical version of the comical Rosenstein-McCabe attempt to stage a palace coup and remove Trump, or the Democrats efforts to invoke the 25th Amendment and declare Trump crazy, bolstered by an array of Ivy League psychiatrists who had neither met nor examined him.
Decorated retired U.S. Navy Admiral William McRaven wrote another New York Times op-ed blasting Trump and fretting that it is time for a new person in the Oval Office—Republican, Democrat or independent—“the sooner, the better.”
One wonders what McRaven meant with the adverb “sooner,” given that an election is scheduled in about a year and even retired officers are subject to the code of military justice not to attack, despite perceived taunts, their current commander-in-chief, much less wink and nod about his apparent removal (in what way?) from office. Do we really want a county in which retired admirals and intelligence officials publicly damn the current commander in chief over policy differences and advocate his removal, “the sooner the better”?
The House Democrats simply want him impeached first, and later will fill in the blanks with the necessary high crimes and misdemeanors.
Most of the prominent New York-Washington, D.C. insider Republican pundits abhor him. The creed of a NeverTrumper is that it is well worth the effort to see the current Republican president removed, and his administration imploded—even if that means four or eight years of an Elizabeth Warren, a Bernie Sanders, or a Joe Biden agenda as voiced in the debates. That would likely mean Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, slavery reparations, permissible infanticide in the case of late-term abortions, a wealth tax, and a generally socialist platform, from renouncing student debts to veritable open borders.
Only amid the ashes of Trump’s destruction do sober and judicious conservative intellectuals, writers, pundits, think-tankers, and establishment Republican grandees believe they can step in to rebirth the Republican Phoenix, nurturing the rising new party with its once hallowed traditions as exemplified by George H.W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney.
The Conservative Record
But what drives this unprecedented furor, given the economy has reached near-record low peacetime unemployment at 3.5 percent, resulting in millions of inner-city youth and poor being sought after by labor-needy employers? What is so evil about attracting the lower-middle classes to the Republican Party, and shedding its stereotype as a party of the golf links and corporate retreats?
Workers’ pay has risen to a net per capita gain of $5,000 since Trump took office. The U.S. energy industry is booming as the world’s largest producer of gas and oil, a fact that has likely saved more lives by rendering the death trap of the oil-rich Middle East increasingly irrelevant to American strategic interests.
By 2020, Trump will have remade the federal judiciary—when at an earlier moment in 2016, it looked as if an Obama-Clinton 16-year regnum would soon ensure a half-century dominance of left-wing activist judges.
Trump entered office with North Korean nuclear rockets allegedly pointed at the West Coast, and with China heralded as the inevitable new global hegemon. A petulant NATO insidiously refused to meet its promised contributions. ISIS ran amuck.
The border was wide open, and that had resulted in 20 million illegal aliens residing in the United States with de facto exemption from most consequences of violating U.S. laws. Trump at the outset has at least sought to address all those problems that sandbagged the prior administration.
So Why the Hatred?
Again, why the unadulterated hatred? For the small number of NeverTrumpers, of course, Trump’s crudity in speech and crassness in manner nullify his accomplishments: the unattractive messenger has fouled an otherwise tolerable message.
While they recognize in the abstract that the randy JFK, the repugnant LBJ, and the horny Bill Clinton during their White House tenures were far grosser in conduct than has been Donald Trump, they either assume presidential ethics should have evolved or they were not always around to know of past bad behavior first hand, or believe Trump’s crude language is worse than prior presidents’ crude behavior in office.
Trump is systematically undoing what Barack Obama wrought, in the manner Obama sought to undo with his eight years the prior eight years of George W. Bush.
But the NeverTrumpers are and remain a tiny segment of the electorate who have had zero effect in swaying Republicans and only marginal influence in persuading swing voters, in their new roles as occasionally useful naïfs of the hard Left.
Far more importantly, why do the media, academia, the entertainment and professional sports industries, the progressive Left, the administrative state, and most Democratic officeholders despise him so?
His brashness bothers them of course. His quirky tweets and name-calling certainly. His loud rallies, his public put-downs, and his feuding are certainly not matched by those of past presidents.
A Toxic Agenda
But the real source of their antipathy is his agenda.
Had Donald Trump in his first month as president declared that he was a centrist Republican —as many suspicious Never Trumpers predicted that he would, true to past form—and promoted cap-and-trade and solar and wind federal subsidies, tabled pipeline construction and abated federal leasing for gas and oil production, stayed in the Iran nuclear deal and Paris Climate Accord, appointed judges in the tradition of John Paul Stevens and David Souter, praised the “responsible” Palestinian leaders, pursued “comprehensive immigration reform” as a euphemism for blanket amnesties, then Trump would be treated largely as a George H.W. Bush or George W. Bush: hated, of course, but not obsessively so.
More importantly, had Trump just collapsed or stagnated the economy, as predicted by the likes of Paul Krugman and Larry Summers, he would now be roundly denounced, but again not so vilified, given his political utility for the Left in 2020 as a perceived Herbert Hoover-esque scapegoat.
Had Trump kept within the media and cultural sidelines by giving interviews to “60 Minutes,” speaking at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, bringing in a few old Republican hands to run the staff or handle media relations like a David Gergen or Andrew Card, Trump would have been written off as a nice enough dunce.
But Trump did none of that. So, the hatred of the media, the Left, the swamp, and the celebrity industry is predicated more on the successful Trump agenda. He is systematically undoing what Barack Obama wrought, in the manner Obama sought to undo with his eight years the prior eight years of George W. Bush.
But whereas the Obama economy stagnated and his foreign policy was seen by adversaries and rivals as a rare occasion to recalibrate the world order at American’s expense, Trump mostly did not fail—at least not yet. We are currently in an economic boom while most of the world economy abroad is inert. Had the economy just crashed as predicted, the Trump agenda would have been discredited and he would be written off a pitiful fool rather than an existential monster.
Again, hatred arises at what Trump did even more than what he says or how he says it.
But there is a final asterisk.
What made Obama unpopular with the public—until his last year when he ceded the spotlight to Clinton and Trump and then was liked in absentia the more he was neither seen nor heard—was his wide social, cultural, economic, and political assault on conservatism.
Obama ridiculed the tea-party movement with the obscene “tea-bagger” put-down. He told Latinos to “punish their enemies,” by whom he meant Republicans. His attorney general, Eric Holder, referred to blacks as “my people.” The EPA began making rather than enforcing laws.
Obama sought to promote Iran as a foil to the Gulf monarchies and Israel, an effort that explains much of the otherwise inexplicable Iran deal and Iran’s current adventurism. Rappers visited the White House, some with long histories of obscenity and anti-police rhetoric.
From “Cash-for-Clunkers” to Benghazi, the left-wing effort was 360 degrees, all-encompassing. Conservatives feared Obama was not so much changing politics as “fundamentally transforming America” as he had promised. Obama supporters bragged of a much-hailed new demography that had created a vast new constituency of the lockstep non-white voters supposedly now united not by class, or politics or culture, but by the mere fact of their appearance.
Trump has pushed a far more ambitious agenda, and one that is as conservative as Obama’s was progressive. He apparently had every intention of using the pen-and-phone model bequeathed by Obama to do it any way possible.
But more importantly, Trump’s lidless eyes never sleep. He is a 24/7 force of nature. No controversy is too trivial, too silly, too irrelevant to escape his Twitter commentary. Or rather Trump believes he is an existential war with the media, celebrities, elites of all sorts and the general status quo, or what we might call the American progressive project and its elite coastal architects.
Trump senses that the more he offends them, and the more so they pronounce him a dunce, a nut, a boor, a criminal, an ogre, then all the more they reveal what many had suspected about them but had no hard evidence to substantiate those suspicions. Trump believes his checkered social life is now transparent and serves as a sort of armor when he jousts with the sober and judicious whose pretense of civility is ripped away leaving them hypocritical when they foam, swear, and damn the current president.
The hatred for Trump manifests itself in 90 percent negative coverage, according to reputable media watchdogs.
Trump’s war with the Colin Kaepernick take-a-knee fad and the NBA-China nexus reminds us that hypocritical multimillionaires who grow rich throwing, catching, and bouncing balls are not by that fact to be looked up to as either moral or wise, but mostly remain clueless and hypocritical.
The bipartisan Washington establishment?
If an outsider Manhattan wheeler-dealer without military or political experience can at last call an appeased China to account, can avoid a Libyan fiasco, can acknowledge that America is tired of a 18-year slog in Afghanistan when others would not, or believes ISIS thrived as a result of prior arcane restrictive U.S. rules of engagement—and he is proven largely right—then what does that say about the credentialed experts who dreamed up the bipartisan conventional wisdom that with a few more concessions China would eventually become Palo Alto or that Libya would bloom at the heart of the Arab Spring?
The Left detests Trump for a lot of reasons besides winning the 2016 election and aborting the progressive project. But mostly they hate his guts because he is trying and often succeeding to restore a conservative America at a time when his opponents thought that the mere idea was not just impossible but unhinged.
And that is absolutely unforgivable.
Real Clear Defense:
Prepare for the Worst
By William R. Graham, R. James Woolsey & Peter Vincent Pry
October 21, 2019
Among the most important findings of the 2004, 2008, and 2017 reports by the congressionally mandated Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack is that millions of Americans could die and the loss of our electronic civilization to manmade or natural EMP catastrophe would be a national doomsday. Therefore, EMP is one of a very small number of existential threats that demands immediate high-priority attention from the U.S. Government.1
1.All of the EMP Commission unclassified reports are at www.firstempcommission.org
President Trump deserves the gratitude of every American for heeding EMP Commission warnings and issuing his “Executive Order on Coordinating National Resilience to Electromagnetic Pulses” on March 26, 2019.(2)
However, the President’s executive order to protect the national electric grid and other life-sustaining critical infrastructures is in danger of being undermined by a small number of highly influential non-expert career bureaucrats in the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy. This cabal of about five members of the permanent federal bureaucracy were obstacles to national EMP preparedness during the Obama Administration— and today are entrusted by DHS and DOE with implementing President Trump’s EMP Executive Order.
Moreover, with the resignation of several key people at the top of the National Security Council staff, it is at best uncertain that the replacements will have the knowledge, experience, and drive to see that the President’s Executive Order is implemented, particularly in the face of resistance from career bureaucrats in league with domestic and foreign electric power monopolies.
Not having deep expertise in EMP themselves, and perhaps being part of “the resistance” to Trump Administration policies, these DHS and DOE actors are promoting EMP “junk science” by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), a lobby for the electric power industry. EPRI alleges that even a worst-case nuclear EMP attack or solar superstorm is not an existential threat to electric power grids and U.S. society, would have merely localized effects, and be quickly recoverable.(3)
If EPRI’s fantasy is accepted that a nuclear EMP attack or solar superstorm would have societal consequences no worse than a hurricane, then DHS, DOE, and the electric power industry can “implement” President Trump’s EMP Executive Order by doing little or nothing.
It appears to matter little to these DHS and DOE bureaucrats that EPRI’s EMP threat assessment has been debunked by the Defense Nuclear Agency, the EMP Commission and the U.S. Air Force Electromagnetic Defense Task Force.(4)
Shocking that DHS and DOE would even trust EPRI, that has no expertise on EMP, serves not science but the financial and political interests of electric utilities, receives 25% of research monies from foreign sources, and includes China and Russia as members.(5)
2. President Donald J. Trump Executive Order on Coordinating National Resilience to Electromagnetic Pulses (The White House: March 26, 2019).
3. EPRI, High-Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse and the Bulk Power System” (April 30, 2019).
4. USAF EDTF, Electromagnetic Pulse Threats to America’s Electric Grid: Counterpoints to Electric Power Research Institute (OTH: August 27, 2019) https://othjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/EMP-Threats-to-Americas-Electric-Grid.pdf. EMP Commission, Recommended E3 HEMP Heave Electric Field Waveform for the Critical Infrastructures (Washington, DC: July 2017). EMP Commission, Examination of NERC GMD Standards and Validation of Ground Models and Geo-Electric Fields (Washington, DC: July 2017).
5.EPRI, “EPRI’s R&D Program—Frequently Asked Questions” mydocs.epri.com/docs/CorporateDocuments/Newsroom/FAQs-EPRIprogram.pdf. Michael Mabee, “FOIA with DHS Reveals Congressional Frustration on EMP/GMD” Homeland Security (July 9, 2019). According to EPRI “international funding of EPRI nuclear research [increased] to 45 percent from 20 percent five years ago” and
At this crucial juncture in the implementation of President Trump’s EMP Executive Order, where DHS and DOE are re-assessing the EMP threat, they apparently need to be reminded that the EMP Commission threat assessment is not merely another opinion. Commissions established by the President or the Congress engage the best experts and are given extraordinary resources and powers to provide the best scientific and strategic threat assessment and recommendations, that are supposed to be definitive for purposes of public policy.
There are good reasons USAF EDTF endorses the EMP Commission: “EDTF…recommends that the Congressional EMP Commission Reports, supported by real-world data, be used by government and industry as the most accurate assessment of the high-altitude EMP threat. EDTF recommends that the Congressional EMP Commission’s recommendations be implemented.”
The EMP Commission had at its service the Free World’s foremost EMP experts, men who laid the foundations of EMP science, beginning with data from the last U.S. exo-atmospheric nuclear tests in 1962, and wrote the Department of Defense (DOD) EMP Military Standards; proved the vulnerability and guided protection of U.S. critical national infrastructures by the most comprehensive testing of modern electronics; testing performed on DOD and U.S. Government EMP simulators by the best DOD and USG technical personnel; and concluded with a process of evaluation, threat assessment, and policy recommendations performed more or less continuously over a period of 17 years—unlike EPRI.
Not only has the EMP Commission faced a long uphill battle advancing national EMP preparedness against a resistant federal bureaucracy, but against an irresponsible press that often misinforms the public with absurd claims—such as the preposterous falsehood the EMP Commission’s warning about an existential threat is derived from the novel One Second After.
Now, with the fate of President Trump’s EMP Executive Order hanging in the balance, and is at risk of being rendered meaningless, it may be helpful to remember what is at stake by revisiting EMP Commission warnings that America faces an existential threat, and why.
Existential Threat: EMP Commission 2004 and 2008 Reports
EMP manmade or natural is analogous to the Cold War nuclear threat that, although considered highly unlikely by most experts, nonetheless demanded and deserved highest priority and vast resources to deter and prevent a nuclear World War III, since the survival of Western Civilization was at stake. Yet a potentially worldwide natural EMP event from a solar superstorm is inevitable, sure to happen someday, the best estimate being a 12% chance every
includes working with China in EPRI news release “EPRI’s Chief Nuclear Officer…Receives Energy Leadership Award” (May 21, 2010) https://www.globalnewswire.com/news-release/2015/05/21/738226/10135597/en/EPRI
6. Ibid, p. 4.
7. For example Kyle Mizukami “No, North Korea Can’t Kill 90 Percent of Americans” Popular Mechanics (March 31, 2017). Popular Mechanics refused to retract Mizukami’s false claim, which went viral, even after One Second After author William Forstchen appealed to the editor, noting his novel was published in 2009, after the 2004 and 2008 EMP Commission reports already declared EMP an existential threat.
decade of a solar EMP catastrophe—a far more likely threat than was Cold War nuclear Armageddon. (8)
The biggest loss of life from natural or manmade EMP would be from starvation, disease, and societal collapse. EMP damage to the electric grid may not be repairable for months or years, or ever if there is mass starvation and societal collapse. Almost irreplaceable equipment, like EHV transformers, require years to manufacture and replace and could require a decade or more to repair if destroyed in large numbers. And this is just one example of protracted damage to the national grid from EMP that could blackout electronic civilization.
“The recovery of any one of the key national infrastructures is dependent on the recovery of others. The longer the outage, the more problematical and uncertain the recovery will be,” warns the EMP Commission 2004 Report, “It is possible for the functional outages to become mutually reinforcing until at some point the degradation of infrastructure could have irreversible effects on the country’s ability to support its population.” (9)
The EMP Commission 2008 Report warns:
–“Electrical power is necessary to support other critical infrastructures, including supply and distribution of water, food, fuel, communications, transport, financial transactions, emergency services, government services, and all other infrastructures supporting the national economy and welfare. Should significant parts of the electric power be lost for any substantial period of time, the Commission believes that the consequences are likely to be catastrophic, and many people may ultimately die for lack of the basic elements necessary to sustain life in dense urban and suburban communities. In fact, the Commission is deeply concerned that such impacts are likely in the event of an EMP attack…” (10)
The EMP Commission 2008 Report in the chapter “Water Infrastructure” warns:
–“Water and its system of supply is a vital infrastructure…(EMP) can damage or disrupt the infrastructure that supplies water to the population, agriculture, and industry of the United States…” (11)
–“By disrupting the water infrastructure, an EMP attack could pose a major threat to life, industrial activity, and social order. Denial of water can cause death in 3 to 4 days, depending on the climate and level of activity.” (12)
–“People are likely to resort to drinking from lakes, streams, ponds, and other sources of surface water. Most surface water, especially in urban areas, is contaminated with wastes and
8.Dr. Tony Phillips, “Near Miss: The Solar Superstorm of July 2012” (NASA: July 23, 2014) https://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2014/23Jul_superstorm/
9.EMP Commission, Executive Report (Washington, DC: 2004) pp. 1-2.
10.EMP Commission, Critical National Infrastructures (Washington, DC: 2008) Preface p. vii.
11.Ibid, p. 139.
12.Ibid, p. 143.
pathogens and could cause serious illness if consumed. If water treatment and sewage plants cease operating, the concentration of wastes in surface water will certainly increase dramatically and make the risks of consuming surface water more hazardous.” (13)
–“Demoralization and deterioration of social order can be expected to deepen if a water shortage is protracted. Anarchy will certainly loom if government cannot supply the population with enough water to preserve health and life.” (14)
The EMP Commission 2008 Report in the chapter “Food Infrastructure” warns:
–“An EMP attack that disrupts the food infrastructure could pose a threat to life, industrial activity, and social order. Absolute deprivation of food, on average, will greatly diminish a person’s capacity for physical work within a few days. After 4 to 5 days without food, the average person will suffer from impaired judgment and have difficulty performing simple intellectual tasks. After 2 weeks without food, the average person will be virtually incapacitated. Death typically results after 1 or 2 months without food.” (15)
–“Social order likely would decay if a food shortage were protracted. A government that cannot supply the population with enough food to preserve health and life could face anarchy.” (16)
–“Blackouts of electric grids caused by storms or accidents have destroyed food supplies. An EMP attack that damages the power grid and denies electricity to warehouses or that directly damages refrigeration and temperature control systems could destroy most of the 30-day regional perishable food supply. Blackouts also have disrupted transportation systems and impeded the replenishment of local food supplies.” (17)
–“Massive traffic jams are most likely in large cities, the very areas where rapid replenishment of the food supply at hundreds of supermarkets will be needed most urgently. Significantly, recent famines in the developing world have occurred, despite massive relief efforts by the international community, in large part because food relief could not reach victim populations through their underdeveloped transportation infrastructure. An EMP attack could, in effect, temporarily create in the United States the technological conditions in the food and transportation infrastructures that have resulted in developing world famines.” (18)
Existential Threat: EMP Commission Congressional Testimony
EMP Commissioners in congressional testimony—that constitutes part of the official record and findings of the EMP Commission—warned that, in a worst case scenario, most Americans could die in an EMP catastrophe, estimating possible fatalities ranging up to two-thirds of the population or more, perhaps as high as 90% perishing from starvation, disease, and societal collapse. On September 4th, 1882, when the first electric grid lit New York City, the population
14.Ibid, p. 144.
15.Ibid, p. 134.
17.Ibid, pp. 134-135.
18.Ibid, p. 137.
of the United States was 50 million, 85% smaller than the 330 million Americans sustained by our electronic civilization today. In 1882 most Americans were farmers and civilization was sustained by coal-fired and horse-drawn technologies and critical infrastructures that no longer exist. Even in 1922, before the advent of national electrification in the 1930s, the technology and critical infrastructures of the time sustained a population of 110 million, two-thirds fewer people than today.
On July 22, 2004, at a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee, the EMP Commission Chairman, Dr. William R. Graham, and EMP Commissioner, Dr. Lowell Wood, explained why two-thirds or more of the American people could die from an EMP catastrophe:
MR. BARTLETT: …your characterization of this is a large continental time machine that would move us back a century in technology, and my question then was, “But Dr. Wood, the technology of a century ago could not support our present population and distribution,” and your unemotional response, “Yes, I know. The population will shrink until it could be supported by the technology.” When I look at the technology of a century ago and where we are today, Dr. Wood, I would imagine that that shrink might be a good two-thirds of our present population?”
DR. WOOD: The population that this continent carried late in the 19th century, sir, was almost a factor of 10 smaller than it is at the present time. We went from where we had 70 percent of the population on the farms feeding 30 percent of the people in the villages and cities to where 3 percent of the population on the farms at the present time feeds the other 97 percent of the country. So just looking at it from an agricultural and food supply standpoint, if we were no longer able to fuel our agricultural machine in this country, the food production of the country would simply stop because we do not have the horses and mules that used to tow the agricultural gear around in the 1880’s and 1890’s. So the situation would be extremely adverse if both electricity and the fuel that electricity moves around the country, the diesel fuel and so forth, if that went away and stayed away for a substantial interval of time, we would miss the harvest, and we would starve the following winter.
MR. BARTLETT: Isn’t it possible that the ultimate effects on our society from a robust EMP laydown, although initially maybe few or no people would be killed, might be greater than the effects of ground-burst nuclear weapons in a nuclear exchange? I see Dr. Graham nodding his head in assent.
DR. GRAHAM: Yes. In a way, we thought that was the threshold for our consideration because a determined adversary probably could manage to place a nuclear weapon on the surface, either by ballistic missile or other means, but, in fact, we concluded that, as you say, while producing no immediate fatalities, a high-altitude nuclear burst could over a period of time measured in weeks to months—and possibly, in some cases, even shorter—cause more fatalities than a nuclear burst directed at a population area. Of even greater concern is the fact that recovery from the high-altitude event could be more difficult. In a nuclear burst in a city, however devastating it would be—and it would certainly be devastating—we have the rest of the country that we can bring in from the periphery of the attacked area to try to help in the recovery and help the survivors as much as possible. But with a high-altitude nuclear burst, the area effected would be sufficiently large that it would not be possible to bring in enough support from the periphery in a rapid fashion to recover the area in a quick and responsive manner. So, if you will, the peripheral effect is much more difficult to take advantage of with a high-altitude nuclear burst, and, therefore, the overall effect could be much more devastating.(19)
On March 8, 2005, at a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology, and Homeland Security, EMP Commissioner Wood, substituting for EMP Commission Chairman Graham, warned that an EMP event could “literally destroy the American nation and might cause the deaths of 90 percent of its people and would set us back a century or more in time as far as our ability to function as a society….So when we stop to think about being attacked from North Korea, we shouldn’t think about Hiroshima or Nagasaki. We should think about flavors of destruction that have never been seen before on this planet.” (20) Moreover:
DR. WOOD:…If the lights stay off for more than a year in this country, the Commission’s estimate was the loss of life would run into the tens of millions, perhaps a great deal more. You miss the harvest. You have no refrigeration, no transportation, no anything except what we had in the country in the 1880’s. Most Americans will die in that interval.” (21)
At the July 10, 2008 hearing before the House Armed Services Committee on the EMP Commission 2004 and 2008 reports, the EMP Commission Chairman, Dr. William Graham, warned up to 90% of the American people could perish from an EMP catastrophe:
MR. BARTLETT: I read a prepublication copy of a book called One Second After…The story runs for a year…At the end of the year, 90 percent of our population is dead…I understand that this is a realistic assessment of what a really robust EMP laydown could do to our country?
DR. GRAHAM: We think that is in the correct range. We don’t have experience with losing the infrastructure in a country with 300 million people, most of whom don’t live in a way that provides for their own food and other needs. We can go back to an era when people did live like that. That would be—10 percent would be 30 million people, and that is probably the range where we could survive as a basically rural economy. (22)
Existential Threat: EMP Commission 2017 Reports
The EMP Commission 2017 Executive Report and Chairman’s Report reaffirms the existential threat from natural and manmade EMP:
–“The critical national infrastructure in the United States faces a present and continuing existential threat from combined-arms warfare, including cyber and manmade electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, as well as from natural EMP from a solar superstorm…Within the last decade, newly armed adversaries, including North Korea, have been developing the capability and threatening to carry out an EMP attack against the United States. Such an attack would
19.The Report Of The Commission To Assess The Threat To The U.S. From Electromagnetic Pulse Attack, Hearing before the House Armed Services Committee (July 22, 2004).
20.Terrorism And The EMP Threat To Homeland Security, Hearing before the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology, and Homeland Security; U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee (March 8, 2005) Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2005.
21.Ibid, p. 18.
22.Threat Posed By Electromagnetic Pulse Attack, Hearing before the House Armed Services Committee (July 10, 2008) Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2009, pp. 8-9.
give countries that have only a small number of nuclear weapons the ability to cause widespread, long-lasting damage to critical national infrastructures, to the United States itself as a viable country, and to the survival of a majority of its population.(23)
–“A long-term outage owing to EMP could disable most critical supply chains, leaving the U.S. population living in conditions similar to centuries past, prior to the advent of electric power. In the 1800s, the U.S. population was less than 60 million, and those people had many skills and assets necessary for survival without today’s infrastructure. An extended blackout today could result in the death of a large fraction of the American people through the effects of societal collapse, disease, and starvation.” (24)
–“Solar superstorms, like the 1859 Carrington Event, generate natural EMP that could blackout electric grids and other life-sustaining critical infrastructures over remarkably wide areas, putting at risk the lives of many millions.” (25)
Better Safe Than Sorry
The most important message of the 2004, 2008, and 2017 EMP Commission reports is that: “The current vulnerability of U.S. critical infrastructures can both invite and reward attack if not corrected; however, correction is feasible and well within the Nation’s means and resources to accomplish.” (26)
We are very close to having five career DHS and DOE bureaucrats decide for 330 million Americans that the U.S. should not be protected against the real EMP threat. Frighteningly reminiscent of the bureaucratic politics that left New Orleans unprepared for a Category 5 Hurricane Katrina, because such was considered highly unlikely or impossible.
Those too naive to understand the real EMP threat should at least be guided by the time proven adages: “Better safe than sorry” and “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”
Dr. William R. Graham served as Chairman of the Congressional EMP Commission, President Reagan’s Science Advisor, ran NASA, and on the defense science team that discovered the EMP phenomenon and developed protective measures. Ambassador R. James Woolsey was Director of Central Intelligence. Dr. Peter Vincent Pry served as chief of staff of the EMP Commission and on the staffs of the Strategic Posture Commission, House Armed Services Committee, and CIA.
23.EMP Commission, Assessing the Threat of EMP Attack: Executive Report (Washington, DC: July 2017) p. 1.
24.Ibid, p. 4.
25.EMP Commission, Chairman’s Report (July 2017) pp. 6-7.
26.Executive Report, op. cit., pp. 2-3.
An Open Letter to Sergey Brin
# Opinion # Conservative # religion # liberals # free-speech # leftism
Dear Mr. Brin: Fifty years ago this week, when I was a 21-year-old college senior, I was in the Soviet Union, sent by the government of Israel to smuggle in Jewish religious items and smuggle out names of Jews who wanted to escape the Soviet Union and could then be issued a formal invitation to Israel.
I was chosen because I was a committed Jew and because I knew Hebrew and Russian. I was no hero, but the trip did entail risk. The Soviets did not appreciate people smuggling out names of Soviet citizens who sought to emigrate, information the Israeli government and activist groups in America used to advocate on their behalf.
My four weeks in the USSR were, of course, life-changing. This young American, lucky beyond belief to have spent his entire life in the freest country in the world, experienced what it was like to live in a totalitarian police state. People feared merely being seen speaking with a Westerner, lest the KGB arrest and interrogate them. People arranged to meet me at a certain tree in a certain park and only spoke to me while walking to avoid eavesdroppers. I met with Jewish engineers, doctors and professors who could find no work because they were known to the government to be “otkazniki,” or “refuseniks” — Jews who had applied for exit visas to leave the Soviet Union and been refused permission. I’m sure you know of them from your parents.
I left the Soviet Union angry and grateful — angry there are people who have the audacity to tell other people what they could and could not say, and grateful beyond measure to have been born in America, where no one could tell anyone what they could say. From that day to this, I have never taken freedom, especially freedom of speech, for granted.
Why I am writing to you about this?
Because, beyond my wildest dreams, two things are happening in America.
One is that for the first time in America’s history, free speech is seriously threatened.
In 1977, when Nazis sought to march in Skokie, Illinois — those terrible human beings chose Skokie because it was home to many Jewish Holocaust survivors — virtually every liberal and conservative organization, including Jewish organizations, defended the Nazis’ right to march. Because in America — and only in America — it was understood that even if the most loathsome speech was not protected, all speech was at risk.
That has changed.
Today, decent people — people who abhor Nazism and every other form of evil, left or right; people like Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro and Ayaan Hirsi Ali — are shouted down, threatened, disinvited or never invited to speak at America’s universities.
The other thing that is happening is even more frightening. The company that you co-founded, Google, the greatest conduit of speech in world history, is also suppressing speech. I have asked myself over and over: How could the company founded by a man whose parents fled the Soviet Union do this?
It so boggles the mind that I have to hope you are simply not fully aware of what your company is doing.
So, in a nutshell, let me tell you what Google has done to one organization, Prager University (better known as PragerU). Every week, PragerU releases a five-minute video on virtually every subject outside of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Some of the finest minds in the world have presented these videos — including professors from Harvard, Stanford and MIT; four Pulitzer Prize winners; three former prime ministers; liberals; conservatives; Democrats; Republicans (including never-Trumpers); gays; and, of course, many women and members of ethnic and racial minorities.
Yet YouTube, which Google owns, has placed hundreds of our videos on its restricted list. In addition to the inherent smear of being labeled “inappropriate for children,” this means no family that filters out pornography and graphic violence, no school and no library can see those videos. Among those restricted videos is one during former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper defends Israel. Had someone told me 50 years ago that a company led by the son of Soviet Jewish refuseniks would suppress a video by a world leader defending the Jewish state, I would have told them they were out of their mind. That’s one reason I can only assume, or at least hope, that you are not fully aware of what your company is doing.
Or how about a video series I present on the Ten Commandments? YouTube is suppressing a number of those, too. When Sen. Ted Cruz asked a Google official why Google restricted one of my videos on the Ten Commandments, the official responded (it’s on YouTube) that it was because the video “contains references to murder.”
In fact, PragerU has repeatedly asked Google over the past several years why any of our videos are on the restricted list, and we have received either a runaround or silence. We have never received a substantive explanation. We have no desire to see government intervene in private business to protect free speech. But your company has availed itself of protections under law that shield it from liability for defamation, copyright infringement, etc. Your company’s arrogance is such that a vast number of Americans — liberals as well as conservatives — are worried that the major conduit of speech in the Free World doesn’t care about free speech.
Mr. Brin, along with millions of other Americans, I fought to bring your parents from a land with no freedom to the Land of the Free. None of us has ever asked for anything in return. It was our honor to work for liberty in general and for Soviet Jewry specifically.
What Americans most want from immigrants is that they help keep America free. I never had any doubt that those leaving the Soviet Union would fulfill that mission.
Freedom of speech is the most fundamental of all freedoms. It’s what your parents yearned for and bequeathed to you. Please don’t help take it away from those who made it possible — the people of America.
Turkey’s Assault on Kurds: The Silence of the Islamists
by John Rossomando
October 11, 2019
A stateless people comprised of a large number of Sunni Muslims is being bombarded by a country with an overwhelming military advantage. It’s the kind of thing that normally has American Islamist groups organizing protests and lighting up social media feeds.
But this time the aggressor is Turkey’s authoritarian leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a man who has positioned himself as a defender of violent Palestinian terrorists like Hamas, and as a patron for Muslim Brotherhood leaders who sought refuge from Egypt’s military rulers. He is bombing Kurdish targets in northern Syrian and has sent his troops into the country.
The Kurdish Red Crescent claims there have been at least 11 civilian deaths, including an 11-year-old girl, and 28 wounded. Erdogan’s invasion displaced at least 60,000 people, many of whom have nowhere to go.
American Islamists, normally not shy about Middle East conflicts, are largely silent about Turkey’s unprovoked bombing of Kurds, Syriac Christians and Arabs. When Israel has launched defensive operations to stop Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorists from raining rockets on civilians in southern Israel, the same groups are quick to condemn, organize protests, demand U.S. government action and organize social media campaigns.
Kurdish victims fail to generate similar concern. Images on social media show Turkish bombing and shelling of civilians all along Syria’s northern border. Civilians in the town of Kobane, who withstood a 2014 ISIS onslaught, found themselves under attackThursday by Turkish artillery.
Turkish artillery hit civilian areas of the northwestern Syrian town of Qamishli on Wednesday and Thursday, where the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) headquarters is located, Kurdish Twitter sources reported. Video showed explosions in the town and civilian casualties. Qamishli’s inhabitants are a mixture of Kurds, who are mostly Sunni Muslim, and Syriac Christians.
An ISIS sleeper cell detonated a car bomb in Qamishli’s restaurant district on Friday. Casualty figures were not immediately available.
Turkey claims it is conducting an anti-terrorist operation against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), from which the largest SDF faction the YPG descends. But the PKK’s ideology has moved away from revolutionary Marxism and now supports autonomy within Turkey, American Enterprise Institute scholar Michael Rubin noted in a January National Interest column. Erdogan sought peace with the PKK before turning against it in 2015.
“To refuse to acknowledge let alone appreciate the evolution of the PKK and to refuse to recognize the achievements and stability of Syrian Kurdish governance against the backdrop of a horrendous civil war not only does an injustice toward the Kurds, but it also signals that in order to achieve their basic human rights, they must fight to the death in Turkey…,” Rubin wrote.
Turkey’s offensive has united political voices in the United States, primarily because the Kurds proved to be the only reliable force against ISIS. In contrast, Arab militias backed by the West inevitably turned their weapons over to ISIS, al-Qaida, or other jihadists. Kurdish forces successfully routed ISIS over the past few years with the help of American military advisers and airpower.
Western powers promised the Kurds a state of their own following World War I but that failed to materialize. Kurds are spread out across Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. The PKK has fought a decades-long war with Turkey for autonomy and self-governance. Kurds are denied their language and identity by Ankara, which belittles them as “Mountain Turks.”
But American Islamists do little to seek justice for the oppressed Kurdish people. The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) thus far has been silent about Turkey’s assault. The same is true for the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Islamic Circle of North America (ISNA), and American Muslims for Palestine (AMP).
AMP Executive Director Osama Abuirshaid actually defended the invasion.
“The Turkish military incursion into Syria does not please us as Arabs,” Abuirshaid wroteon Facebook, “but Turkey is practically forced to, and it has (Turkey)- to this very day- been the one who stood with the Syrian people the most …” He claimed Turkey “is trying to prevent the establishment of a ‘Kurdish Israel’ along its southern borders.
The leader of the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations – an umbrella group of “major national American Muslim organizations,” also declared support for the Turkish invasion.
“What a travesty, progressive media wants to protect YPG, a terrorist affiliate of PKK, while innocent Syrians are slaughtered daily! Only Turkey carried the burden to host millions of Syrians & protect them. Who’s (sic) agenda & interest is served here? We are watching!” USCMO Secretary General Oussama Jamal tweeted on Tuesday.
Los Angeles chapter Executive Director Hussam Ayloush was the only CAIR official to speak about the invasion.
“Dear Western politicians/commentators and sudden experts on Syria, did it occur to you to ask how the 12 million refugess (sic) feel about Turkey establishing a safe zone in Syria that’s free from Assad and terrorists?” Ayloush wrote.
That safe zone involves resettling Syrian refugees from other parts of Syria who live in Turkey, Erdogan said in a United Nations speech last month. Jihadists also reportedly are involved in the invasion force alongside the Turkish regular army.
Last month, U.S. Islamist leaders effusively praised Erdogan. CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad and former Muslim American Society President Esam Omeish were photographed huddling near the Turkish leader.
Jamal called Erdogan “a wonderful human-being with patience, love, worries and cares for Muslim ummah.” Brooklyn Imam Siraj Wahhaj called for Turkey to lead the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims at an event sponsored by the Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC).
The same Islamists also have been noisy about India’s revocation of the special status of the territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
“We have to reject Hindu supremacy and assert that if India wants to be a democracy it has to live up to the standard of a democratic state,” AMP Chairman Hatem Bazian saidat a Sept. 29 rally on Kashmir posted on AMP’s Facebook page. “India has become one of the largest purchasers of weapons. Supremacy is always used as militarism in a way that’s used to assert its right to rule. India has been spending massively.
“When we say that we are for peace and for justice, we are against weapons of mass destruction, against using nationalism as a way to kill and separate people.”
Bazian has made no mention of the Turkish invasion.
Israeli attacks against Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists are retaliation for rocket attacks, but the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that consists of Kurds, Arabs and Syriac Christians bent over backwards to tell Turkey it was not a threat. SDF soldiers pulled back from defensive positions along the Turkish-Syrian border in weeks leading up to the invasion.
None of it was enough for Erdogan, who is determined to strike out at the very people who helped defeat ISIS. Apparently, that’s just fine with American Islamists.
Trump did not betray the Kurds
The near consensus view of President Donald Trump’s decision to remove US special forces from the Syrian border with Turkey is that Trump is enabling a Turkish invasion and double crossing the Syrian Kurds who have fought with the Americans for five years against ISIS. Trump’s move, the thinking goes, harms US credibility and undermines US power in the region and throughout the world.
There are several problems with this narrative. The first is that it assumes that until this week, the US had power and influence in Syria when in fact, by design, the US went to great lengths to limit its ability to influence events in Syria.
The war in Syria broke out in 2011 as a popular insurrection by Syrian Sunnis against the Iranian-sponsored regime of President Bashar al Assad. The Obama administration responded by declaring US support for Assad’s overthrow. But the declaration was empty. The administration sat on its thumbs as the regime’s atrocities mounted. They supported a feckless Turkish effort to raise a resistance army dominated by jihadist elements aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Obama infamously issued his “redline” regarding the use of chemical weapons against civilians by Assad, which he repudiated the moment it was crossed.
As ISIS forces gathered in Iraq and Syria, Obama shrugged them off as a “jayvee squad.” When the jayvees in ISIS took over a third of Iraqi and Syrian territory, Obama did nothing.
As Lee Smith recalled in January in the New York Post, Obama only decided to do something about ISIS in late 2014 after the group beheaded a number of American journalists and posted their decapitations on social media.
The timing was problematic for Obama.
In 2014 Obama was negotiating his nuclear deal with Iran. The deal, falsely presented as a non-proliferation pact, actually enabled Iran — the world’s greatest state sponsor of terrorism — to develop both nuclear weapons and the missile systems required to deliver them. The true purpose of the deal was not to block Iran’s nuclear aspirations but to realign US Middle East policy away from the Sunnis and Israel and towards Iran.
Given its goal of embracing Iran, the Obama administration had no interest in harming Assad, Iran’s Syrian factotum. It had no interest in blocking Iran’s ally Russia from using the war in Syria as a means to reassert Moscow’s power in the Middle East.
As both Michael Doran, a former national security advisor in the George W. Bush administration and Smith argue, when Obama was finally compelled to act against ISIS, he structured the US campaign in a manner than would align it with Iran’s interests.
Obama’s decided to work with the Kurdish-YPG militia in northern Syria because it was the only significant armed force outside the Iranian axis that enjoyed congenial relations with both Assad and Iran.
Obama deployed around a thousand forces to Syria. Their limited numbers and radically constrained mandate made it impossible for the Americans to have a major effect on events in the country. They weren’t allowed to act against Assad or Iran. They were tasked solely with fighting ISIS. Obama instituted draconian rules of engagement that made achieving even that limited goal all but impossible.
During his tenure as Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton hoped to revise the US mandate to enable US forces to be used against Iran in Syria. Bolton’s plan was strategically sound. Trump rejected it largely because it was a recipe for widening US involvement in Syria far beyond what the American public – and Trump himself — are willing to countenance.
In other words, the claim that the US has major influence in Syria is wrong. It does not have such influence and is unwilling to pay the price of developing such influence.
This brings us to the second flaw in the narrative about Trump’s removal of US forces from the Syrian border with Turkey.
The underlying assumption of the criticism is that America has an interest in confronting Turkey to protect the Kurds.
This misconception like the misconception regarding US power and influence in Syria is borne of a misunderstanding of Obama’s Middle East policies. Aside from ISIS’s direct victims, the major casualty of Obama’s deliberately feckless anti-ISIS campaign was the US alliance with Turkey. Whereas the US chose to work with the Kurds because they were supportive of Assad and Iran, the Turks view the Syrian Kurdish YPG as a sister militia to the Turkish PKK. The Marxist PKK has been fighting a guerilla war against Turkey for decades. The State Department designates the PKK as a terrorist organization responsible for the death of thousands of Turkish nationals. Not surprisingly then, the Turks viewed the US-Kurdish collaboration against ISIS as an anti-Turkish campaign.
Throughout the years of US-Kurdish cooperation, many have made the case that the Kurds are a better ally to the US that Turkey. The case is compelling not merely because the Kurds have fought well.
Under Erdogan, Turkey has stood against the US and its interests far more often than it has stood with it. Across a spectrum of issues, from Israel to human rights, Hamas and ISIS to Turkish aggression against Cyprus, Greece and Israel in the Eastern Mediterranean, to upholding US economic sanctions against Iran and beyond, for nearly twenty years, Erdogan’s Turkey has distinguished itself as a strategic threat to America’s core interests and policies and those of its closest allies in the Middle East.
Despite the compelling, ever growing body of evidence that the time has come to reassess US-Turkish ties, the Pentagon refuses to engage the issue. The Pentagon has rejected the suggestion that the US remove its nuclear weapons from Incirlik air base in Turkey or diminish Incirlik’s centrality to US air operations in Central Asia and the Middle East. The same is true of US dependence on Turkish naval bases.
Given the Pentagon’s position, there is no chance that US would consider entering an armed conflict with Turkey on behalf of the Kurds.
The Kurds are a tragic people. The Kurds, who live as persecuted minorities in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran have been denied the right of self-determination for the past hundred years. But then, the Kurds have squandered every opportunity they have had to assert independence. The closest they came to achieving self-determination was in Iraq in 2017. In Iraqi Kurdistan, the Kurds have governed themselves effectively since 1992. In 2017, they overwhelmingly passed a referendum calling for Iraqi Kurdistan to secede from Iraq and form an independent state. Instead of joining forces to achieve their long-held dream, the Kurdish leaders in Iraq worked against one another. One faction, in alliance with Iran, blocked implementation of the referendum and then did nothing as Kurdish-controlled Kirkuk was overrun by Iraqi government forces.
The Kurds in Iraq are far more capable of defending themselves than the Kurds of Syria. Taking on the defense of Syria’s Kurds would commit the US to an open-ended presence in Syria and justify Turkish antagonism. America’s interests would not be advanced. They would be harmed, particularly in light of the YPG’s selling trait for Obama – its warm ties to Assad and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The hard truth is that the fifty US soldiers along the Syrian-Turkish border were a fake trip wire. Neither Trump nor the US military had any intention of sacrificing US forces to either block a Turkish invasion of Syria or foment deeper US involvement in the event of a Turkish invasion.
Apparently in the course of his phone call with Trump on Sunday, Erdogan called Trump’s bluff. Trump’s announcement following the call made clear that the US would not sacrifice its soldiers to stop Erdogan’s planned invasion of the border zone.
But Trump also made clear that the US did not support the Turkish move. In subsequent statements, Trump repeatedly pledged to destroy the Turkish economy if Turkey commits atrocities against the Kurds.
If the Pentagon can be brought on board, Trump’s threats can easily be used as a means to formally diminish the long hollow US alliance with Turkey.
Here it is critical to note that Trump did not remove US forces from Syria. They are still deployed along the border crossing between Jordan, Iraq and Syria to block Iran from moving forces and materiel to Syria and Lebanon. They are still blocking Russian and Syrian forces from taking over the oil fields along the eastern bank of the Euphrates. Aside from defeating ISIS, these missions are the principle strategic achievements of the US forces in Syria. For now, they are being maintained. Will Turkey’s invasion enable ISIS to reassert itself in Syria and beyond? Perhaps. But here too, as Trump made clear this week, it is not America’s job to serve as the permanent jailor of ISIS. European forces are just as capable of serving as guards as Americans are. America’s role is not to stay in Syria forever. It is to beat down threats to US and world security as they emerge and then let others – Turks, Kurds, Europeans, Russians, UN peacekeepers – maintain the new, safer status quo.
The final assumption of the narrative regarding Trump’s moves in Syria is that by moving its forces away from the border ahead of the Turkish invasion, Trump harmed regional stability and America’s reputation as a trustworthy ally.
On the latter issue, Trump has spent the better part of his term in office rebuilding America’s credibility as an ally after Obama effectively abandoned the Sunnis and Israel in favor of Iran. To the extent that Trump has harmed US credibility, he didn’t do it in Syria this week by rejecting war with Turkey. He did it last month by failing to retaliate militarily against Iran’s brazen military attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil installations. Whereasthe US has no commitment to protect the Kurds, the US’s central commitment in the Middle East for the past 70 years has been the protection of Saudi oil installations and maintaining the safety of maritime routes in and around the Persian Gulf.
The best move Trump can make now in light of the fake narrative of his treachery towards the Kurds is to finally retaliate against Iran. A well-conceived, and limited US strike against Iranian missile and drone installations would restore America’s posture as the dominant power in the Persian Gulf and prevent the further destabilization of the Saudi regime and the backsliding of the UAE towards Iran.
As for Syria, it is impossible to known what the future holds for the Kurds, the Turks, the Iranians, Assad or anyone else. But what is clear enough is that Trump avoided war with Turkey this week. And he began extracting America from an open-ended commitment to the Kurds it never made and never intended to fulfill.
Originally published in Israel Hayom.
from the magazine, City Journal Connoisseur of Chaos
The dystopian vision of George Soros, billionaire funder of the Left
Winter 2017 Politics and law
When the dust was cleared and the debris swept away, he stood revealed as Hillary Clinton’s most generous billionaire donor. Yet his name rarely surfaced during the presidential campaign—and that’s generally the way he likes it. Dark Money, Jane Mayer’s book about covert political funding, refers to the Koch brothers more than 300 times in its excoriation of the “radical right” but mentions progressive icon George Soros just six times; three are footnotes.
One of the planet’s richest men, his past marred with crimes and misdemeanors, the 86-year-old billionaire skates on. More than a decade ago, he moved his financial headquarters to Curaçao, a tax-free haven in the Caribbean designed for monied hypocrites who talk one game and play another. The place is not bulletproof; on occasion, Soros has been accused—and even convicted—of insider trading. A French court found him guilty of that crime and levied a fine of $2.3 million. In the parlance of the billionaires’ club, that was small change. Investigative journalists, a dwindling cadre, show little interest in him. They prefer to scrutinize safer, softer targets.
If they took even a cursory look, though, they would see that Soros’s global reach and influence far outstrip those of the Koch brothers or other liberal bogeymen—and that underlying it all is a vision both dystopian and opportunistic. “The main obstacle to a stable and just world order,” Soros has declared, “is the United States.” Ergo, that constitutional republic must be weakened and its allies degraded. The Sorosian world order—one of open borders and global governance, antithetical to the ideals and experience of the West—could then assume command.
George Soros has been an escape artist since his adolescence in Budapest, when Nazi occupiers gave him his first life lessons. Until then, the Schwartz family lived in a large house, located on an island in the Danube. György’s mother, Elizabeth, was the daughter of affluent silk merchants. His father, Tivadar, was a prominent lawyer and eccentric; in good weather, he commuted to his office by rowboat.
But all was not as it appeared, even before the predations of the Third Reich. Anti-Semitism ran deep in Eastern Europe, and Hungarian Jews lived on a knife blade, no matter how large their bank accounts. The secularist Tivadar never attended synagogue, but he had a devout belief in Esperanto, the artificial language that he and other disciples believed would eventually become the world’s tongue. The Tower of Babel would be razed, and nationalism would disappear, along with dialects, local attitudes, and national boundaries. But that world lay in the future. For the present, Jewish identity would have to be papered over.
Accordingly, the family changed its name to Soros—“to soar,” in Esperanto. In 1944, the personification of the Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, came to German-occupied Hungary to administrate the Final Solution. But Tivadar had anticipated him. By then, he had purchased false identity documents for himself and the family. He bribed a government official to “adopt” György and testify to investigators that the boy was his Christian godson.
Now came the fulcrum of Soros’s life and career. The bureaucrat who housed teenage György was assigned the task of confiscating Jewish land and property. With the boy in tow, he went from house to house, making inventories for Nazi officers. It’s unfair sweepingly to condemn those individuals, Jewish and Gentile, who, willingly or unwillingly, sometimes participated in evil in order to survive. Still, most of those who did escape the Holocaust were tormented by pangs of remorse and survivor’s guilt.
Not Soros. In 1998, 60 Minutes profiled the man whose stock-market manipulations were making news. CBS interviewer Steve Kroft asked him about his wartime experiences:
KROFT: You watched lots of people get shipped off to the death camps.
SOROS: Right. I was 14 years old. And I would say that that’s when my character was made.
KROFT: In what way?
SOROS: That one should think ahead. One should understand and—and anticipate events and when—when one is threatened. It was a tremendous threat of evil. I mean, it was a—a very personal experience of evil. . . .
KROFT: I mean, that’s—that sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult?
SOROS: Not—not at all. Not at all. Maybe as a child you don’t—you don’t see the connection. But it was—it created no—no problem at all.
KROFT: No feeling of guilt?
KROFT: For example that, “I’m Jewish and here I am, watching these people go. I could just as easily be there. I should be there.” None of that?
SOROS: Well, of course I c— I could be on the other side or I could be the one from whom the thing is being taken away. But there was no sense that I shouldn’t be there, because that was—well, actually, in a funny way, it’s just like in markets—that if I weren’t there—of course, I wasn’t doing it, but somebody else would—would—would be taking it away anyhow. And it was the—whether I was there or not, I was only a spectator, the property was being taken away. So the—I had no role in taking away that property. So I had no sense of guilt.
After the war, attending the London School of Economics, Soros, his name now Anglicized, was beguiled by the writings of Karl Popper (1902–94). The Viennese-born professor devoted his life and work to what he called the Open Society—a place free of such “tribal” affinities as religion, nationalism, and traditional economic formulas. But he also denounced, as a “monument of human smallness,” Plato’s concept of the philosopher king. “What a contrast,” Popper wrote, “between it and the simplicity of humaneness of Socrates, who warned the statesman against the danger of being dazzled by his own power, excellence, and wisdom. . . . What a decline from this world of irony and reason . . . down to Plato’s kingdom of the sage whose magical powers raise him high above ordinary men; although not quite high enough to forgo the use of lies, or to neglect the sorry trade of every shaman—the selling of spells . . . in exchange for power over his fellow-men.”
Was Soros beginning to confront the implications of these big ideas? No one knew—perhaps not even Soros himself, as he strove to find a place in postwar Britain. Alas for the new graduate, the financial world proved to be a closed society. No one seemed interested in his sheepskin or his multilingual abilities. Finally, he found work at the London-based merchant bank Singer and Friedlander because, he stated in a rare moment of self-deprecation, the managing director was a fellow Hungarian.
In 1930s Hollywood, when former Magyars like Alexander Korda, Peter Lorre, Leslie Howard, and Bela Lugosi reigned supreme, so many of their countrymen applied for positions that one film studio put up a sign: “It’s not enough to be Hungarian, you must also have talent.” So it proved in 1950s London, where the new hire could not rest on his Budapest connections. He had to demonstrate a gift for creating revenue—and he did. Within a few years, he had mastered the craft of arbitraging—making profits by trading different currencies. As befit a man with his background, he also promoted European stocks, then winning favor with U.S. institutional investors. Through Soros, they gained opportunities in the new Coal and Steel Community, soon to become the Common Market.
By 1959, Soros had relocated to New York City, the financial nexus of the West. He continued to be a salaried employee but a high-level one. He told colleagues that he planned to work for three more years—enough to accumulate a personal fortune of $500,000. He would then return to England to study philosophy. That event never occurred. His ego kept getting in the way. “I admit that I have always harbored an exaggerated view of my self-importance,” he later admitted. “To put it bluntly, I fancied myself as some kind of god.”
In the 1960s, the fancied god conceived his Theory of Reflexivity. Despite its Einsteinian overtones, the concept had a great deal of mumbo and not a little jumbo. Essentially, it stated that those who observe a phenomenon—like economics or politics—become a part of what they’re observing, and thus risk losing their objectivity. Economic arenas—Wall Street, for example—are particularly vulnerable to forces that have little to do with empirical evidence or historical precedent. Knowing this, the cunning witness can make a whacking good profit if he stays above the fray, the tipsters, and the “smart money.”
The recession of 1973 provided one of many examples. After years of wild, bullish ascents, the market seemed impervious to business cycles. Then it crashed. Investors waited for the predicted rebound—and were still waiting five years later. The resignation of Richard Nixon, the oil shortages, the seizing of American hostages in Iran, and the inept response of Jimmy Carter all put paid to the good times. And yet, a few speculators profited from these disasters; Soros was one of them.
Soros went on to enjoy many other triumphs, and none did more for his image than a killing made across the pond two decades later. He had gone out on his own by then. Aware that the British government was propping up the pound sterling, he and his associates acquired millions of pounds and then shorted the currency, betting that its worth would decrease. After some bad press and some bloody political infighting, Prime Minister John Major caved, withdrawing the pound from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). The pound plummeted, and Soros pocketed more than $1 billion. Retirees on fixed incomes saw their pensions diminished and their savings wiped out. But the human consequences had no effect on Soros; indeed, he gained in stature. In high-finance circles, he was the “man who broke the Bank of England.”
The subprime mortgage crisis of the 2000s offered another opportunity. Houses had been overvalued and underfinanced. The day of reckoning occurred in 2008. It led to the downfall of Lehman Brothers, the failure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the near-collapse of the entire global financial system. Again, Soros came smiling through. “I’m having a very good crisis,” he told a reporter.
Soros had long since become wealthy beyond avarice. Two large alimonies (he married for a third time in 2013) and the education of his heirs (like Donald Trump, he has five children), plus lavish homes in Westchester and on Long Island, scarcely made a dent in the family fortune, which continued to grow. But along the way, it occurred to Soros, as it had to many another financial giant before him, that mere getting and spending were not enough for a man of his colossal self-measurement. He put his sons and other principals in charge of his companies and hedge funds. Thereafter, like the owner of beach frontage whose landscape is obstructed by trees, he devoted himself to cutting down whatever blocked his worldview.
Soros’s Open Society Foundations was clearly devoted to the eradication of national sovereignty.
His presidential candidate lost in 2016, but this setback likely won’t slow Soros down. His political activism portfolio is well diversified. Backing organizations dedicated to social agitation and change-for-change’s-sake, Soros has caused tsunamis of upheaval, in the United States and around the world.
A few cases in point: last August, DC Leaks, a group of adroit hackers, got into the Soros files and released them. Perhaps the most notorious of the disclosures concerned Soros’s Open Society Foundations, named in honor of Sir Karl Popper. Underneath its lofty rhetoric, the organization was clearly devoted to the eradication of national sovereignty. A key Open Society paper, hacked in its entirety, described the Syrian refugee crisis as an opportunity to “shape conversations about rethinking migrations governance.” Translation: use agitprop to flood Europe and the U.S. with evacuees (among them some probable terrorists); make the old borders and institutions irrelevant; and, in the process, create a world liberated from the restraints of constitutionalism, American exceptionalism, free-market capitalism, and other obsolete isms.
One of Soros’s long-standing targets is the State of Israel. Providing funding for groups devoted to BDS (boycott, disinvestment, sanctions) against the Jewish State is only part of the equation. According to DC Leaks, Soros gave more than $2 million to Adalah, an “independent human rights organization.” As a matter of policy, Adalah demands that governments sever diplomatic relations with the only democracy in the Middle East. Soros also donated more than $1 million to the Palestinian media center I’lam, which regularly accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing. Though the Open Society Foundations’ biases are obvious, its members prefer to work under deep cover, as one of the leaked documents describes. “For a variety of reasons, we wanted to construct a diversified portfolio of grants dealing with Israel and Palestine . . . as well as building a portfolio of Palestinian grants and in all cases to maintain a low profile and relative distance—particularly on the advocacy front.”
Print reporters were enlisted in the cause of propagating the Soros mind-set. As recorded by WikiLeaks, Soros operatives, determined to shape media coverage of events in Ukraine, were instructed to “select journalists from the five target countries (Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Greece) and offer them long stay reporting trips in Ukraine. Rather than specify what they should write about they should make suggestions for articles; we retain a veto on stories we think are counterproductive. Suggestion that we liaise directly with journalists to determine interest.”
Soros bankrolls a wide array of protest groups across the country, including MoveOn.org, shown here demonstrating outside Senator Charles Schumer’s office. (MARK APOLLO/PACIFIC PRESS/LIGHTROCKET/GETTY IMAGES)
Soros bankrolls a wide array of protest groups across the country, including MoveOn.org, shown here demonstrating outside Senator Charles Schumer’s office. (MARK APOLLO/PACIFIC PRESS/LIGHTROCKET/GETTY IMAGES)
In the United States, Soros bankrolls a broad range of political and cultural causes. One is to destabilize the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. In 2015, he dedicated $650,000 for the purpose of shaping Pope Francis’s U.S. visit, using left-leaning Catholic groups to promote gay marriage, abortion, and physician-assisted suicide. Leading the effort was Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta, a self-professed Catholic. Bill Donohue, outspoken president of the Catholic League, vainly called for Podesta’s dismissal. “He is fomenting revolution in the Catholic Church, creating mutiny and is totally unethical,” Donohue said. “He is the front man for George Soros to create a host of phony anti-Catholic groups. These are not just bad comments, as some have suggested. These words are orchestrated, calculated and designed to create fissures in the Catholic Church.”
Another Soros favorite is Black Lives Matter, the radical protest group dedicated to the proposition that police are inherently racist. Working the streets with incendiary rhetoric, at odds with the truth about black-on-black crime, BLM has helped foster “depolicing,” as Heather Mac Donald describes it, in high-crime urban areas. In 2015, after days of rioting in Baltimore in response to the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, an Open Society Foundations memo excitedly commented that “recent events offer a unique opportunity to accelerate the dismantling of structural inequality generated and maintained by local law enforcement and to engage residents who have historically been disenfranchised in Baltimore City in shaping and monitoring reform.” Three straight acquittals of police officers involved in the matter left the prosecution’s case in shreds but made no difference to the Open Society Foundations. It has donated at least $650,000 to Black Lives Matter and pledged more assistance to antipolice factions across the country. These activities prompted the father of one of the Dallas police officers killed during a Black Lives Matter protest to sue Soros (along with other individuals and groups) for inspiring a “war on police.”
Soros’s open-borders obsessions can be seen in the $2 million he gave to opponents of Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff Joe Arpaio, an outspoken critic of illegal immigration. The sheriff’s “influence on the national conversation about immigration has been poisonous,” said a Soros spokesman. Arpaio fired back, calling the billionaire a “far-left globalist” who was trying to “buy a local race.” The sheriff failed to ride in on Trump’s November wagon, though, and Soros enjoyed one of his few election-night victories. Soros also spent millions backing liberal-minded district attorneys—they all opposed jail time for nonviolent drug offenders—in Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Illinois, New Mexico, and Texas. Some of these candidates won; most lost.
The emphasis on leniency for drug offenders is no accident. Two decades ago, Soros began an ardent campaign to decriminalize marijuana and other illegal drugs, which he promoted as an issue of fairness: Why should abusers be arrested and imprisoned when what they really needed was counseling and rehabilitation? To that end, he backed the Lindesmith Center, a “drug policy institute,” which served as Soros’s echo chamber on matters concerning proscribed substances. “I’m sure Lindesmith’s desire to take us into nihilism and chaos and to jam our hospital emergency rooms with more users has some useful purpose,” scoffed a spokesman for General Barry McCaffrey, during his tenure as Bill Clinton’s drug czar. Since then, Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington have all legalized marijuana, and Heads, a pro-drug magazine, enthusiastically dubbed Soros “Daddy Weedbucks.” But data are confirming what skeptics like McCaffrey had argued all along: that legalization serves as a forerunner to more drug use rather than less, more emergency-room visits rather than fewer, increased danger to the health of the young, and a consequent weakening of the social fabric.
As the postpresidential fever abates, Soros’s work carries on. In a New York City luxury hotel, Soros recently huddled with other devastated operatives in the so-called Democratic Alliance, including former House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, and Congressional Progressive Caucus cochairman Keith Ellison. According to Politico, they discussed strategies to combat President-elect Trump’s “terrifying assault on President’s Obama’s achievements.” Not all Democrats were pleased with the occasion. “The DA itself should be called into question,” said one attendee. “You can make a very good case it’s nothing more than a social club for a handful of wealthy white donors and labor union officials to drink wine and read memos, as the Democratic Party burns down around them.”
With the threat that a Trump presidency poses to their power, Soros and his allies figure to be even more voracious for influence—and secrecy. This is no time to let up. Yet Soros must occasionally think back to the professor whose writings he cherry-picked, using what was digestible and abandoning what could not be stomached. When he does, one tocsin is likely to cause discomfort even to this most insensitive of plutocrats: Popper’s reference to the figure “whose magical powers raise him high above ordinary men.” Popper warned about this type long before George Soros perverted Sir Karl’s teachings and crowned himself a philosopher king.
Stefan Kanfer, a City Journal contributing editor, is the author, most recently, of The Eskimo Hunts in Miami.
Where Did ‘Maximum Pressureʼ Go? –
WSJ 9/9/19, 2’57 PM https://www.wsj.com/articles/where-did-maximum-pressure-go-11567969572
OPINION | COMMENTARY Where Did ‘Maximum Pressure’ Go? The Trump administration has let its early momentum in foreign policy dissipate. It’s time to turn back. Sept. 8, 2019 3:06 pm ET By Seth G. Jones and Tom Karako
The Trump presidency started by reorienting America’s national-security focus from counterterrorism to long-term, geopolitical competition— particularly against major powers such as China and Russia. Despite the promise of this new approach, the results have been mixed. It’s now time for the Trump administration to reinvigorate its posture of “maximum pressure,” which has come to look more like one of maximum patience. The Obama administration’s attitude of “strategic patience” produced frustrating results. While the U.S. waited, China improved its military capabilities and continued its unfair trade practices. Russia orchestrated cyber and intelligence operations against the U.S. and violated nearly every arms-control agreement on file. Iran expanded its missile program and its influence in the Middle East. North Korea’s nuclear program marched along. The Trump administration began by recognizing these developments and responding. President Trump deserves praise for arming Ukraine, calling out Russian violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and withdrawing from it, and ejecting Russian diplomats after the Skripal poisonings in the U.K. The administration also reimposed sanctions on Iran, imposed tariffs on China, denounced Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro and pressured allies in Europe and East Asia to do more for collective
Early actions tended to match the tough talk. Whereas President Obama blinked after Syria crossed his “red line” by using chemical weapons against its own people, the Trump administration responded to chemical attacks in April 2017 by firing 59 cruise missiles against Syrian targets. But that early momentum and pressure seem to be dissipating. China is the most significant national-security threat to the U.S., yet the White House is now missing opportunities to pressure Beijing. It has been reluctant to criticize China’s crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. This silence is reminiscent of Mr. Obama’s approach to the 2009 Green Revolution in Iran—and very different from President Reagan’s support for democratic movements in the Eastern bloc and his demand that Mikhail Gorbachev tear down the Berlin Wall. Despite two years of talk about missile defenses against Chinese hypersonic glide vehicles, little is being done. The story is similar in Iran. The administration’s initial sanctions have stoked about 50% inflation and a minus-6% growth this year for Iran. But since the U.S. walked away from the nuclear deal and sidelined its European allies, Iran has lifted limits on its development of centrifuges used to enrich uranium. The number of Iranian-linked militia fighters has grown to more than 180,000 in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere, and Iran continues to improve the largest and most diverse missile arsenal in the region. This demands a better response. So do Iranian provocations in the Persian Gulf, especially the downing of a U.S. surveillance aircraft in international airspace. Iran knew what it was doing and surely expected the U.S. to strike back. Such an operation was under way, before the president canceled it at the last minute. That decision may embolden Tehran. With North Korea, the administration merits praise for pursuing the dismantlement of nuclear and missile programs. But after an 18-month moratorium, Pyongyang has resumed testing a new batch of missiles. Mr. Trump now plays down the tests, calling them “very standard.” This plays into Kim Jong Un ’s hands by normalizing his missile programs and his regime. It seems as if the president’s photo-op summitry in June 2018 effectively took off the table his “bloody nose” threats.
Finally, the administration remains too conciliatory with Russia. Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush helped win the Cold War by highlighting the moral differences between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. At the July 2018 Helsinki summit and on several other occasions, however, Mr. Trump refrained from calling out Vladimir Putin ’s abuses, even accepting his explanations of Russian interference in the U.S. election over those of America’s intelligence community. A few weeks ago Mr. Trump suggested that Russia might rejoin the Group of Seven, from which it was ejected after invading Ukraine. The White House hasn’t imposed sanctions against Turkey for buying Russia’s S-400 air defenses, despite a legal requirement to do so. And Russian security aid to Venezuela continues unabated. Mr. Obama said Mr. Assad in Syria must go, and Mr. Trump has said the same of Mr. Maduro. Both dictators may outlast this U.S. president. In the beginning, the Trump administration recognized the renewed strategic competition, showed early resolve, and matched word and deed. That focus must return. U.S. adversaries don’t deserve more patience than allies; strategic competition requires global partners. But if recent trends are uncorrected, the Trump administration’s national-security legacy will be as lackluster as that of its predecessor.
Mr. Jones is director of the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Mr. Karako is director of CSIS’s Missile Defense Project.
Copyright © 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers visit https