Posted tagged ‘Fascism’

Freedom of Speech is not Free; it is Beyond Price

June 26, 2016

Freedom of Speech is not Free; it is Beyond Price, Dan Miller’s Blog, June 25, 2016

(The views expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Warsclerotic or its other editors. — DM)

Accurate speech, considered “Islamophobic” or otherwise offensive to some, is now deemed “hateful” and punishable under distorted visions of law or university rules. So, apparently is the mention of God. Sometimes, those who dare to speak are silenced before they even begin.

The First Amendment provides,

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Congress is not permitted to ignore the First Amendment, but the U.S. Airforce and other government entities appear to have done so. Recently, Senior Master Sergeant Oscar Rodriguez, Jr. (ret.) was forcibly removed from a private retirement ceremony at an Air Force base because he was about to deliver his flag folding speech. The retiree had heard the speech previously and had asked Rodriguez to deliver it.

When Roberson’s unit commander discovered that Rodriguez would be delivering the flag-folding speech, which mentions “God,” during the ceremony, he attempted to prevent Rodriguez from attending. After learning that he lacked authority to prevent Rodriguez from attending, the commander then told Roberson that Rodriguez could not give the speech. Rodriguez asked Roberson what he should do, and Roberson responded that it was his personal desire that Rodriguez give the flag-folding speech as planned. . . .

Roberson and Rodriguez tried to clear the speech through higher authorities at Travis Air Force Base, even offering to place notices on the door informing guests that the word “God” would be mentioned. They never received a response from the authorities. As an Air Force veteran himself, Rodriguez stood firm on his commitment to Roberson. [Emphasis added.]

Here is the speech, as Rodriguez had given it previously:

What an offensive word! True, it’s in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, but that’s gotta go. Thought experiment: what if Rodriguez had said “Allah” rather than “God?” Might that have been viewed as sufficiently inclusive to be acceptable? Why not? In its “unredacted” version of the Islamist Orlando shooter’s phone calls, the Department of Justice translated “Allah” into “God.” The DOJ probably didn’t want to hurt Islamists’ feelings by suggesting that the Obama administration thinks that Allah and hence Islamists have anything to do with terrorism.

Are we just beginning to enter a new age of fascism? No, we are already well into it.

Here’s a Bill Whittle segment about Obama, Guns, Islam and Orlando

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas-linked “civil rights” organization, recently published an “Islamophobia” report. In Obama’s America, CAIR and its Islamist affiliates are the Government’s principal “go to” organizations for limiting access to the Muslim community in “countering violent extremism” efforts and during investigations of terror incidents.

According to CAIR, “Islamophobic” utterances are “hate speech;” it has provided a list of “Islamophobes” and their organizations. Below are comments about the list by Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a reformist Muslim. He, as well as The Clarion Project (also an advocate for Islamic reform), are on CAIR’s list of “Islamophobes.”

Europe and its Western culture, and now to a somewhat lesser extent our own American culture (such as it is) are being surrendered to Islam. Allied with government authorities, our leftist “friends” are in the forefront of the war on free speech.

[I]n recent years, we’ve witnessed an unrelenting assault on free speech with a concerted effort by the regressive Left to curtail thought and restrict the free exchange of ideas. Last week, I wrote about campus terrorism and how conservatives and others who maintain views that are inconsistent with the leftist narrative have been subjected to campaigns of harassment and abuse by campus hooligans.

Often university officials are apathetic, turning a blind eye to these transgressions, while in other universities the administration is complicit by instructing campus police to stand down, allowing the agitators free reign to shut down speaking engagements through use of bullying tactics. In at least two instances, university presidents were forced to issue rather craven apologies to an alliance of leftists and Islamists for having the temerity to defend the right to free speech.

This disturbing trend of muzzling free speech has now substantially broadened to include criminalizing speech that issues challenges to the so-called science of climate change. Some seventeen left-leaning state attorneys general have launched investigative and intrusive probes against Exxon Mobil and conservative groups because of their involvement in debunking alarmist claims of imminent doom issued by hysterical climate change proponents.

The ringleaders of this anti-free speech witch hunt include Eric Schneiderman (D-New York) and Claude Walker (I-Virgin Islands). At a recent speech at the Bloomberg’s Big Law Business Summit, Schneiderman was dismissive of his critics, accusing them of “First Amendment opportunism.” The more he spoke the more he sounded like Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s thuggish dictator who utilized the vast resources of the state to silence anyone who disagreed with him. [Emphasis added.]

I wish I could laugh at the next video. It’s funny in a way, but also deadly serious.

As the “best and brightest” from our top universities come of age and control “our” government, will the First Amendment be their principal target for destruction? Or will they also pursue with unabated vigor their war on the Second Amendment? Here is the text of the Second Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Our British cousins just voted to leave the European Union to restore democracy at home.

For my final broadcast to the nation on the eve of Britain’s Independence Day, the BBC asked me to imagine myself as one of the courtiers to whom Her Majesty had recently asked the question, “In one minute, give three reasons for your opinion on whether my United Kingdom should remain in or leave the European Union.”

My three reasons for departure, in strict order of precedence, were Democracy, Democracy, and Democracy. For the so-called “European Parliament” is no Parliament. It is a mere duma. It lacks even the power to bring forward a bill, and the 28 faceless, unelected, omnipotent Kommissars – the official German name for the shadowy Commissioners who exercise the supreme lawmaking power that was once vested in our elected Parliament – have the power, under the Treaty of Maastricht, to meet behind closed doors to override in secret any decision of that “Parliament” at will, and even to issue “Commission Regulations” that bypass it altogether. [Emphasis added.]

Rather like our own distended Federal and State bureaucracies.

I concluded my one-minute broadcast with these words: “Your Majesty, with my humble duty, I was born in a democracy; I do not live in one; but I am determined to die in one.”  [Emphasis added.]

And now I shall die in one. In the words of William Pitt the Younger after the defeat of Napoleon, “England has saved herself by her exertions, and will, as I trust, save Europe by her example.”

. . . .

The people have spoken. And the democratic spirit that inspired just over half the people of Britain to vote for national independence has its roots in the passionate devotion of the Founding Fathers of the United States to democracy. Our former colony showed us the way. Today, then, an even more heartfelt than usual “God bless America!” [Emphasis added.]

I am less than sanguine that we remain as deserving of the high praise the author offers. In any event, we have another version of Brexit coming up in November. Will we be as brave and as far-sighted as our founding fathers were long ago and as the Brits were a couple of days ago?

Quo vadis?

Videos and Photos of Fascist Violence in San Jose

June 3, 2016

Videos and Photos of Fascist Violence in San Jose, Power LineJohn Hinderaker, June 3, 2016

When people refer to fascism, they generally mean “opinions I disagree with.” But the real thing, sadly, is not extinct. For the first time in our modern history, Brownshirts are on the march. As always, they are on the Left.

We have written (here and elsewhere) about liberal Democrats who have rioted at or after Donald Trump rallies. Last night in San Jose, liberals attacked Trump supporters in the most violent riot yet. It is hard to watch the videos without hearing echoes of the 1930s.

Here, a Trump supporter is viciously sucker-punched by a leftist. Note the Mexican flag; a common chant at anti-Trump riots in California is “make California Mexico again.”

These Trump supporters are bleeding and injured after being attacked by liberal Democrats:

Here, liberals surround and attack a young woman, throwing eggs and bottles at her:

Another violent attack on Trump supporters:

More:

This compilation comes from the Wall Street Journal. Note the “We Need Socialism” sign; a Bernie Sanders supporter, apparently:

Anti-Trump rioters burn a U.S. flag:

san-jose-5

Democrats also attacked Trump supporters’ cars as they left the rally:

Protesters against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump kick and jump on a car leaving a Trump campaign rally on Thursday, June 2, 2016, in San Jose, Calif. A group of protesters attacked Trump supporters who were leaving the candidate's rally in San Jose on Thursday night. A dozen or more people were punched, at least one person was pelted with an egg and Trump hats grabbed from supporters were set on fire on the ground. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Protesters against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump kick and jump on a car leaving a Trump campaign rally on Thursday, June 2, 2016, in San Jose, Calif.  (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Rioters battle with police:

r

Rioters burned American flags and waved Mexican flags. Are they trying to tell us something?

rioters burn american flag

Anti- Trump liberals started a number of fist fights:

Protesters harass a pair of Trump supporters outside San Jose Convention Center as presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a rally in San Jose, Calif., Thursday, June 2, 2016. (Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group)

Protesters harass a pair of Trump supporters outside San Jose Convention Center as presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a rally in San Jose, Calif., Thursday, June 2, 2016. (Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group)

This Trump supporter has been knocked to the ground by leftists:

on the ground

Another assault:

Assault

Remarkably, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have felt no obligation to distance themselves from the violence repeatedly perpetrated by their supporters. The party line in the liberal media is 1) these are just protests, nothing unusual here; and 2) to the extent there is violence, it is Trump’s fault for being controversial. That is their story, and so far they are sticking to it. At some point, though, the violence will be impossible to ignore, especially if Trump supporters begin defending themselves.

Op-Ed: EXPOSE: Belgium accepted Islamization for electoral reasons

March 29, 2016

Op-Ed: EXPOSE: Belgium accepted Islamization for electoral reasons, Israel National News, Giulio Meotti, March 29, 2016

The conversation opens with a proverb: “In the land of the blind the one-eyed is a king, but not in Belgium, where those who have tried to raise the alarm have been left alone.” These are the words of Alain Destexhe, a prominent figure among the liberals in Brussels, former secretary of Médecins Sans Frontières and president of the International Crisis Group.

He is also author of “Lettre aux progressistes qui flirtent avec l’islam réac” (a letter to the progressives who flirt with reactionary Islam – Editions du Cerisier),  a letter-pamphlet that Destexhe dedicated to Philippe Moureaux, the man considered responsible for the transformation of a large suburb of Brussels into the European hub of Islamic holy war.

Two days ago, the Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel, said that Moureaux bears a “huge responsibility.”

“For twenty years, he reigned in a sort of conspiracy of silence” continues Destexhe as he talks to us. “At the heart of this system was the powerful Philippe Moureaux, mayor of Molenbeek, media darling, who has had a real moral and political domination over Brussels’ policy. He has created a climate of intellectual terror against the few who dared to stand up. Philippe Moureaux had realized that the future of socialism would depend on the immigrants who would become, symbolically, the new proletariat”.

But who is Moureaux? Professor of Philosophy at the University of Liege, Senator, Director of the Institut Emile Vandervelde (the think tank of the Socialist Party), deputy prime minister in the Martens government, but since 1983 city councilor and then, more importantly, mayor of Molenbeek for twenty years (1992- 2012). Son of minister Charles Moureaux, Philippe has long been the darling of the anti-racist left. The “loi Moureaux”, the Moureaux law, is in fact the rule that in 1981 criminalized acts inspired by xenophobia.

Nicknamed “Moustache” for his mustache, married to a Muslim Tunisian woman, Philippe Moureaux, even before becoming mayor of Molenbeek, had always boasted of defending the rights of immigrants. He included, for the first time in the history of Belgium, Muslim representatives in municipal and regional lists. This scion of the Belgian policy has been the mayor of Molenbeek for so long that the strategic suburb has come to be embodied in Isis’ plans.

His pro-Arab sympathies date back to the war in Algeria, when Moureaux defended the representatives of the Algerian National Liberation Front, also secretly hiding them in the heights of Lustin, in the Namur region.

Merry Hermanus, activist of the Socialist Party in Brussels for decades, also has accused Moureaux: “Without the immigrant populations, the Socialist Party would have been reduced to eight percent of the electorate in Brussels. We have become prisoners.” A few days ago, Moureux published his book, “The Truth About Molenbeek”. He wrote it after the massacres of November 13, in Paris, when the political class began to question his leadership of the Brussels ghetto. In the volume, Moureaux refers to “my Muslim brothers,” writes that one of the engines of jihadism is our “Islamophobia” and punishes “a society that treats immigrants like the Jews before the war”.

“Multiculturalism has failed because we have allowed them to exclude themselves without integrating communities, causing a fragmentation of society,” tells me Alain Destexhe, former Secretary General of Doctors Without Borders. “We’re talking about Belgian citizens who reject the values of our country. Salah Abdeslam is a typical example of a guy who could lead a comfortable life. He had a decent salary and a guaranteed job for life “.

Why did you write the Lettre aux progressistes qui flirtent avec l’islam réac? To denounce the left that you could not criticize, while we were becoming the first country in Europe in number of jihadists and Brussels the weakest link in the fight against this reactionary Islam.

It was an electoral strategy: Moureaux used immigrants to stay in power. Today half of the officers in local councils and in Parliament of the Socialist Party are of foreign origin.

Why did they never demand conditions to give citizenship to immigrants? “It was a political electoral pact. Legal immigration (and illegal) was encouraged. Family reunification was facilitated. There was the granting of voting rights to foreigners, the fight against racism became the new paradigm of political discourse. And more: frequent visits to mosques, subsidies to Muslim associations, the provision of services to the Koranic schools, participation in the festival Eid El Kebir, anti-Israeli marches”.

When he was mayor, Moureaux also urged people to avoid driving during Ramadan, so as not to offend Muslims.

“Most politicians chose not to listen to sermons that became increasingly radical and in this climate radical organizations such as the Belgian Islamic Centre and others have prospered freely. Molenbeek has thus become the fastest growing area of the Brussels region of Belgium. The population of the district increased by 12 percent in 5 years and 30 percent in 15 years. The Islamization is taking place before our eyes. Already 30 percent of Brussels is Islamic”.

And there’s not only Molenbeek: “There are Anderlecht, Brussels City, Schaerbeek, Saint-Josse and Forest. When I was Secretary of Doctors Without Borders, in the ’90s, I often worked in Molenbeek. The population was already largely of immigrant origin, but nobody was trying to assert its own Islamic identity, like today. Women were not wearing the veil, no one asked halal food in schools, few went to the mosque. For this reason, if I look at Belgium today, I am very pessimistic. Perhaps it is too late”.

Emory To Hunt Down Those Who Chalked Support For Trump On Sidewalks and Walls

March 24, 2016

Emory To Hunt Down Those Who Chalked Support For Trump On Sidewalks and Walls, Jonathan Turley Blog, Jonathan Turley, March 24, 2016

(Please see also, American Fascists. — DM)

495px-donald_trump_by_gage_skidmore

We have been discussing how colleges and universities are expanding the range of micro aggressions and hostile or hate speech to troubling levels in terms of free speech and associational rights. Now the expression of political views in the presidential election has been added to speech that students have declared threatening. Someone at Emory chalked the name of Republican candidate Donald Trump around campus. Nothing unusual about that. Students often chalk up statements on sidewalks for causes or candidates. It would not be seen as in any way unusual and the next rain brings a clean slate. However, the statement of support for Trump has led to a protest calling for the supporter to be punished or expelled and for the President to express condemnation of such political affiliations. The students want a statement of support for Trump to be treated as the same as the writing of a swastika. The students have said that they feel threatened in the wake of the statements of political support for Trump.

Students organized immediately after seeing the statements of support and had a meeting with Emory President James W. Wagner to demand action. Students demanded to know “Why did the swastikas [on the AEPi house in Fall 2014] receive a quick response while these chalkings did not?” They were not happy when Wagner reportedly responded that that was a case of an outside threat. The questions reportedly became more pointed like “What do we have to do for you to listen to us?” One student demanded that Emory send out a University-wide email to “decry the support for this fascist, racist candidate.” To his credit, Wagner refused to denounce a presidential candidate. The students then demanded diversity hires into the “higher positions” of the University, including the Board of Trustees and the faculty in general.

What was particularly chilling is the demand for action on faculty members who have not publicly denounced Trump or his views under the view that “[Faculty] are supporting this rhetoric by not ending it.” This failure, the students insisted, have created a threatening environment and that “people of color are struggling academically because they are so focused on trying to have a safe community and focus on these issues [related to having safe spaces on campus].”

Wagner is reportedly preparing an email and has launched an investigation to find the culprit. University police are looking at security cameras. What will they do if they find some student with the incriminating chalk? Will she or he be expelled or disciplined or publicly denounced?

I have some obvious concerns about such action. My primary concern is whether this is the truly the first time in the history of Emory University that students or faculty made political statements on sidewalks. I doubt it. Would the same effort to hunt down the writers occur if the writing referred to Sanders or Black Lives Matter or Greenpeace? If not, this would seem a content-based effort that raises serious issues of free speech. Moreover, the expectation of some of these students that faculty should be pushed to denounce Trump like some Pol Pot reeducation camp is chilling.

I have written previously how free speech is under attack in the West and we appear to be raising one of the most anti-free speech generations in the history of our country. In the name of “tolerance,” we are treating free speech as the scourge of society and a right that must be carefully controlled to “protect” others. These students believe that political views are now within the gambit of threatening speech. We have come full circle from the sixties where baby boomers discovered political and social activism on campuses — a time of great upheaval but also great exploration. However now that students and staff are embracing a conservative, the desire is to have official condemnations and investigations. Trump has clearly generated both great support and great opposition. His views, however, (particularly on immigration) are shared by millions of citizens. Indeed, those same views are prevailing in part of Europe. This is a wonderful opportunity to have a passionate and substantive debate. Why not let all political flowers bloom on campuses? Rather than immediately seek to silence those with countervailing views, the first inclination should be to engage in the debate and value the exchange of ideas.

Before Wagner takes action, the faculty should at a minimum ask for the university to address how it has previously addressed chalk art and political statements. If all chalking is now going to be treated as an offense, will the university be distinguishing art but not political art? The problem with chalk crimes is, forgive the pun, drawing lines on what is prohibited or permitted speech.

What do you think?

American Fascists

March 24, 2016

American Fascists, Bill Whittle Channel via You Tube, March 23, 2016

(What will America be like in a few years? It’s unpleasant to contemplate. — DM)

 

Trump and the Left’s Accusations of Fascism

March 16, 2016

Trump and the Left’s Accusations of Fascism, Front Page MagazineBruce Thornton, March 16, 2016

trump

Donald Trump’s success in the primaries and his rhetoric have sparked troubled meditations about an awakening of fascist impulses among his supporters. Bret Stephens has drawn an analogy with the Thirties, “the last dark age of Western politics,” and compared Trump to Benito Mussolini. On the left, Dana Milbank, in a column titled “Trump Flirts with Fascism,” wrote about a campaign rally at which Trump was “leading supporters in what looked very much like a fascist salute,” a scene New York Times house-conservative David Brooks linked to the Nuremberg party rallies.

Much of the rhetoric that links Trump to fascism or Nazism is merely the stale ad Hitlerum fallacy used by progressives to demonize the candidate. They did the same thing when they called George W. Bush “Bushitler.” This slur reflects the hoary leftist dogma that conservatives at heart are repressed xenophobes and knuckle-dragging racists lusting for a messianic leader to restore their lost “white privilege” and punish their minority, immigrant, and feminist enemies. As such, the attack on Trump is nothing new or unexpected from a progressive ideology whose totalitarian inclinations have always had much more in common with fascism than conservatism does.

What Auden called the “low dishonest decade” of the Thirties, however, is indeed instructive for our predicament today, but not because of any danger of a fascist party taking root in modern America. Communism was (and in some ways still is) vastly more successful at infiltrating and shaping American political, cultural, and educational institutions than fascism ever was. But the same cultural pathologies that enabled both fascist and Nazi aggression still afflict us today. These pathologies and their malign effects are more important than the reasons for Trump’s popularity–– anger at elites, economic stagnation, and anti-immigrant passions–– that supposedly echo the “waves of fear and anger” of Auden’s Thirties.

The most important delusion of the Thirties still active today is the idealistic internationalism that had developed over the previous century. A world shrunk by new communication and transportation technologies and linked by global trade, internationalists argued, meant nations and peoples were becoming more alike. Thus they desired the same prosperity, political freedom, human rights, and peace that the West enjoyed. Interstate relations now should be based on this “harmony of interests,” and managed by non-lethal transnational organizations rather than by force. Covenants and treaties like the Hague and Geneva Conventions, and institutions like the League of Nations and the International Court of Arbitration, could peacefully resolve conflicts among nations through diplomatic engagement, negotiation, and appeasement.

The Preamble to the First Hague Convention (1899) captures the idealism that would compromise foreign policy in the Thirties. The Convention’s aims were “the maintenance of the general peace” and “the friendly settlement of international disputes.” This goal was based on the “solidarity which unites the member of the society of civilized nations” and their shared desire for “extending the empire of law and of strengthening the appreciation of international justice.” Two decades later, the monstrous death and destruction of World War I should have shattered the delusion of such “solidarity” existing even among the “civilized nations.” Despite that gruesome lesson, Europe doubled down and created the League of Nations, which failed to stop the serial aggression that culminated in World War II.

But the League wasn’t the only manifestation of naïve internationalism. The Locarno Treaty of 1925 welcomed Germany back into the community of nations with a seat on the League of Nations council. Nobel Peace prizes, and wish-fulfilling headlines like the New York Times’ “France and Germany Bar War Forever,” were all that resulted. The Kellogg-Briand pact of 1928 “condemn[ed] recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce[d] it as an instrument of national policy” in interstate relations. The signing powers asserted that “the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts . . . shall never be sought except by pacific means.”

All the future Axis Powers signed the treaty, and they all soon shredded these “parchment barriers.” In the next few years, Japan invaded Manchuria, Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland in gross violation of the Versailles Treaty, and Italy invaded Ethiopia. By the time Germany annexed Austria, and Neville Chamberlain’s faith in negotiation and appeasement handed Czechoslovakia to Hitler, all these treaties and conventions and conferences were dead letters, and the League of Nations was exposed as a “cockpit in the tower of Babel,” as Churchill suggested after the First World War.

However, such graphic and costly evidence showing the folly of “covenants without the sword,” as Hobbes put it, did not discredit this dangerous idealism over the following decades. Indeed, it lies behind the disasters of Obama’s foreign policy. Just consider his “outreach” to our enemies, his acknowledgement of our own “imperfections,” his reliance on toothless U.N. Security Council Resolutions, his preference for non-lethal economic sanctions to pressure adversaries, and his belief that negotiated settlements and agreements can achieve peace and good relations even with our fiercest enemies. All reflect the same failure to recognize that our adversaries in fact do not sincerely want to reach an agreement, for the simple reason they are not in fact “just like us,” and so they do not want peace and prosperity and good relations with their neighbors and the “world community.”

The catalogue of Obama’s failures is long and depressing. The “reset” with Russia and promise of “flexibility,” the empty “red line” threats against Bashar al Assad, the arrogant dismissal of a metastasizing ISIS as a “jayvee” outfit, the alienation of allies like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, the cultivation of the jihadist Muslim Brotherhood, the ill-conceived overthrow of Muammar Ghaddafi, and the rhetoric of guilt and self-abasement are just the most noteworthy failures. The nuclear deal with Iran, of course, is the premier monument to this folly. Yet despite the increasing evidence of its futility­­––Iran’s saber-rattling in the Gulf, capture of U.S. military personnel, genocidal rhetoric, and testing of missiles in blatant violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution–– Obama still clings to this internationalist delusion.

A recent article in The Atlantic on Obama’s foreign policy shows, despite his protestations of hardheaded “realism,” that he has not learned from his failures. Thus he still thinks that the vigorous use of force is usually an unnecessary and dangerous mistake, and that verbal persuasion and diplomatic engagement are more effective. He also still believes that “multilateralism regulates [U.S.] hubris” of the sort that George W. Bush showed when he recklessly invaded Iraq, and that American foreign policy has frequently displayed.

Obama’s delusional faith in rhetoric, especially his own, comes through in his rationale for the infamous 2009 Cairo speech: “I was hoping that my speech could trigger a discussion, could create space for Muslims to address the real problems they are confronting—problems of governance, and the fact that some currents of Islam have not gone through a reformation that would help people adapt their religious doctrines to modernity.” The idea that Obama’s mere words could start a “discussion” that would transform 14-century-old religious doctrines fundamentally inimical to liberal democracy, human rights, and all the other Western goods we live by, is a fantasy. Obama’s self-regard recalls Neville Chamberlain’s boast after his meeting with Hitler at Bad Godesberg that he “had established some degree of personal influence with Herr Hitler.”

Or consider Obama’s take on Vladimir Putin:

He understands that Russia’s overall position in the world is significantly diminished. And the fact that he invades Crimea or is trying to prop up Assad doesn’t suddenly make him a player. You don’t see him in any of these meetings out here helping to shape the agenda. For that matter, there’s not a G20 meeting where the Russians set the agenda around any of the issues that are important.

A “player,” in Obama’s foreign policy universe, is a leader who uses “smart power” like diplomacy and negotiated deals, and recognizes that the use of force will backfire and lead to costly “quagmires.” As Secretary of State John Kerry suggested, Putin is using outdated “19th century” instruments of foreign policy like military force in a world that presumably has evolved beyond it.

In contrast, a genuine “player,” as Obama fancies himself, attends summits and conferences, such as the useless climate change conference in Paris, and “sets the agenda.” And like his rationale for the Cairo speech, as the leader of the world’s greatest power, his rhetoric alone can be a force for change. Thus just saying that Syria’s “Assad must go,” while doing nothing to achieve that end, is still useful, and refusing to honestly identify the traditional Islamic foundations of modern jihadism will build good will among Muslims and turn them against the “extremists.”

Meanwhile, Putin and Iran fight and bomb and kill in Syria and Iraq, and now they are the big “players” in a region that the U.S. once dominated, but that now serves the interests of Russia and Iran. I’m reminded of Demosthenes’ scolding of the Athenians for refusing to confront Phillip II of Macedon: “Where either side devotes its time and energy, there it succeeds the better––Phillip in action, but you in argument.”

In other words, for Obama as for Chamberlain, appeasing words rather than forceful deeds are the key to foreign policy––precisely the belief that led England to disastrously underestimate Hitler until it was too late. And that same belief has turned the Middle East into a Darwinian jungle of clashing tribes, sects, and nations.

Obama wraps his foreign policy of retreat in claims to “realist” calculations of America’s security and genuine interests, and buttresses his claim by citing his strategically inconsequential drone killings. But such rhetoric hides an unwillingness to risk consequential action and pay its political costs. And it reflects a commitment to the internationalist idealism that gives diplomatic verbal processes an almost magical power to transform inveterate enemies into helpful partners. Europe tried that in the Thirties, and it led to disaster. That’s a much more important lesson from that sorry decade’s history than the lurid fantasies about fascism coming to America on the wings of Trump’s rhetoric.