Posted tagged ‘President Elect Trump’

RIGHT ANGLE: A Republican Who Fights Back!

January 13, 2017

RIGHT ANGLE: A Republican Who Fights Back! Bill Whittle Channel via YouTube, January 12, 2017

 

Trump vs. the Media: New Sheriff in Town

January 13, 2017

Trump vs. the Media: New Sheriff in Town, PJ MediaMichael Walsh, January 13, 2017

President-elect Donald Trump gives a thumbs up to reporters at Mar-a-Lago, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President-elect Donald Trump gives a thumbs up to reporters at Mar-a-Lago, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

At the Weekly Standard, Fred Barnes has some thoughts on the president-elect’s recent press conference:

Donald Trump is in the rare position of loathing the media and dominating them—simultaneously. What more could a president-elect want as he enters the White House? Not much.

Reporters, columnists, talk radio blabbers, and even the elite media in Washington and New York think Trump is obligated to deal with them pretty much on their terms. Trump doesn’t agree. The notion of catering to them has never crossed his mind. And probably never will.

Instead we get wild events like Trump’s first press conference since winning the presidency. It was on his home turf at Trump Tower. He was in charge. The reporters were an unruly mob. As they tried to attract Trump’s attention, he coolly surveyed them before deciding who should ask him a question. He was dominant, the press pitiful.

They’ve been pitiful for a long time; it’s just that nobody’s pointed it out quite as forcefully as Trump. A bunch of Ivy League-credentialed throne-sniffers willing to suffer any indignity as long as they can stay close to the seat of power, they’ve long since confused themselves with those they cover. They’ve violated the first rule of working for a major media organization, which is confusing their sense of self-worth with whom they represent.

Reporters — even the vaunted White House press corps! — need to remember two things: 1) they can be fired at any time, and nobody will care, and 2) they need their employers more than their employers need them; these days, with journalistic standards at rock bottom, anyone with half a brain and a full set of teeth can work for the dying MSM.

With Trump, rules have changed. CNN was oblivious to this. It had played up the dubious “dossier” story about Trump. Yet, after Trump denounced the story, CNN correspondent Jim Acosta thought he was entitled to ask a question. Trump refused. “You are fake news,” he said, looking at Acosta.

Which leads us to the first change. And by the way, it applies across the board, not just to the media. The new rule is simple: When you attack Trump, he will hit back harder than you could have imagined. “He learned this in the New York media when he was a businessman,” Newt Gingrich said in a speech in December.

This is “Trump’s core model,” says Gingrich, who understands how Trump operates better than anyone else. There’s a reason for Trump’s counter-punching. He always wants to be on offense. “He’s on permanent offense,” Gingrich says. This, too, is a change. “He gets up in the morning, figuring out, how am I going to stay on offense?”

The media, like the Hun, is always either at your feet or at your throat. In collaboration with their Leftist buddies, they’ve been striking at the new president since Nov. 9 in an effort to de-legitimize him. They’re not going to like what’s about to happen to them, not one bit. Then again, that’s what soup kitchens and jobs retraining are for.

Lockheed Martin changes tune, says it can cut costs on F-35

January 13, 2017

Lockheed Martin changes tune, says it can cut costs on F-35, Washington Times, Stephen Dinan, January 13, 2017

(This is deplorable. How dare Fascist woman-hater Trump browbeat and even threaten the poor, defenseless CEO of Lockheed Martin into producing F-35s for the military at a lower cost? — DM)

lockheedmartinceoLockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson talks to reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, after a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson returned to Trump Tower Friday to promise President-elect Donald Trump she’ll drive down the costs of the F-35, as she tries to save her company’s lucrative but troubled contract for the fighter jet.

Mr. Trump has publicly called her out, saying the F-35 was over budget and behind schedule and pointedly mulling ditching the contract and asking Boeing to update its F-18 jet instead.

Mr. Hewson, after her meeting with Mr. Trump, signaled to reporters that she’s going to try to get the F-35 under grips, and said keeping the program going is important to helping the president-elect meet his manufacturing pledges.

“I had the opportunity to tell him that we are close to a deal that will bring the cost down significantly from the previous lot of aircraft to the next lot of aircraft and moreover it’s going to bring a lot of jobs to the United States,” she said.

“In fact we are going to increase our jobs in Fort Worth by 1,800 jobs and when you think about the supply chain across 45 states in the US it’s going to be thousands and thousands of jobs. And I also had the opportunity to give him some ideas on things we think we can do to continue to drive the cost down on the F-35 program so it was a great meeting,” she said.

It was a far different reaction than Ms. Hewson’s first meeting with Mr. Trump last month. She emerged from that meeting without speaking to reporters, and Mr. Trump said they appeared to be engaging in “a little bit of a dance.”

By contrast Boeing’s CEO, who came in the same day to talk about costs of the next-generation Air Force One, had quickly promised Mr. Trump a better deal.

It was in the wake of those two meetings that Mr. Trump publicly said he would ask Boeing to ponder plans for an F-18 Super Hornet update that could replace the F-35.

Democrats hunker down for ‘permanent opposition’ to Donald Trump presidency

January 13, 2017

Democrats hunker down for ‘permanent opposition’ to Donald Trump presidency, Washington TimesValerie Richardson, January 12, 2017

kkkdemoProtesters dressed as Ku Klux Klan members disrupt the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearing for Attorney General-designate Sen. Jeff Sessions on Tuesday. (Associated Press)

For those stunned to see Tuesday’s Senate confirmation hearing disrupted by shouts, changs and protesters dressed as Ku Klux Klan members: Get used to it.

President-elect Donald Trump won’t take office for another week, but Democrats and left-wing groups have already laid the groundwork for a relentless four-year assault on his presidency, vowing to disrupt and discredit his administration long before he signs his first bill.

Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have a name for it: the permanent opposition.

“You’re going to have a permanent opposition, sort of a combination of the news media and the Elizabeth Warren hard left, and they’re going to attack every single day and they’re going to find something to attack all the time,” Mr. Gingrich said on Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”

“And Trump’s got to get used to the idea. ‘That’s OK, that’s just noise,’” Mr. Gingrich said.

Nobody expects the losing party to celebrate after a presidential race, but political analysts say the postelection frenzy of fundraising, war rooms, protests and social media hysteria represents an alarming departure from the traditional stoic acceptance of years past.

“This is dramatically different from what we’ve seen,” said conservative author David Horowitz, chronicler of left-wing movements and author of the 2012 book “The New Leviathan: How the Left-Wing Money Machine Shapes American Politics.”

“A democracy only works if the factions, the divisions are done peacefully and resolved peacefully, and compromises are made,” Mr. Horowitz said. “There’s a honeymoon after the election in which the losing party defends the legitimacy of the election result. That’s why we’ve had peace since the Civil War in this country.”

Democrats have countered that Mr. Trump’s campaign statements in favor of policies such as repealing Obamacare and building a wall to stop illegal immigration from Mexico have forced them to mobilize before the Jan. 20 inauguration.

“While we don’t yet know the harmful proposals the next administration will put forward, thanks to Donald Trump’s campaign, Cabinet appointments and Twitter feed, we do have an idea of what we will be dealing with, and we must be prepared,” said California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.

The Democrat-controlled California Legislature took the unprecedented step last week of hiring former U.S. Attorney Eric H. Holder Jr. to fight Mr. Trump, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called his state a refuge for minorities who feel they are under attack by the still-hypothetical Trump administration.

Democrats say Republicans didn’t make it easy for President Obama, who had barely got comfortable in the White House before the tea party announced its arrival with a march on Washington in September 2009.

On the other hand, conservatives never tried to upend the 2008 Electoral College result by urging electors to defect, or called for his impeachment before he took office, or organized dozens of demonstrations to coincide with his inauguration.

All of that and more have followed Mr. Trump since his Nov. 8 election victory against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“You don’t criticize it in advance of it happening,” Mr. Horowitz said. “I’m amused at all these attacks on Trump as an authoritarian. Well, an authoritarian is a form of ruler. He hasn’t ruled anything.”

Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton have stayed largely above the fray in public, encouraging the electorate to give Mr. Trump a chance, but their top supporters are moving in another direction entirely.

The Center for American Progress Action Fund, backed by the Democracy Alliance, a millionaire and billionaire’s club of top Democratic donors, launched on Dec. 15 its Resist campaign, vowing to marshal its resources behind an effort to “push back rapidly and forcefully against the excesses of the Trump administration.”

“We will organize in our communities and congressional offices. We will march in the streets and apply pressure through social media,” says the Resist post. “And we will forge ahead. We will stand up for progressive values and lay the groundwork for a progressive resurgence in the years to come.”

The center isn’t exactly a fringe group. It was founded by John Podesta, who ran Mrs. Clinton’s campaign and served as a White House adviser to Mr. Obama.

For Democrats, the strategy clearly has benefits. In addition to juicing fundraising, vowing to fight Mr. Trump has helped unify supporters and patch up fractures that emerged during the primary campaign between Mrs. Clinton and Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont.

On the other hand, promoting a state of never-ending political battle may come back to haunt the party. Swing voters may grow weary and ultimately tune out the constant anti-Trump outcry, as many of them did during the election.

Liberal comedian Bill Maher said Democrats cried wolf so many times in past presidential races that nobody believed their warnings about Mr. Trump.

Democrats also risk being associated with some of the more extreme elements taking part in the massive resistance to Mr. Trump. One example is RefuseFascism.org, whose organizers include Weather Underground bomber Bill Ayers and Carl Dix, a founding member of the Revolutionary Communist Party.

The group clearly has connections: It ran a full-page ad Wednesday in The Washington Post, signed by liberal celebrities such as Ed Asner, Debra Messing and Rosie O’Donnell, that urged millions to join a “month of resistance” with “protests that don’t stop” in which “people refuse to leave, occupying public space.”

On her personal Twitter feed, Miss O’Donnell told her 900,000 followers about her idea for resisting Mr. Trump — martial law. “I fully support imposing martial law — delaying the inauguration — until Trump is ‘cleared’ of all charges,” Miss O’Donnell tweeted.

Although the comedian failed to specify what official charges should prevent Mr. Trump from taking office, she did link to an image describing environments where military control of the civilian population “might be best.”

Dozens of groups are urging thousands to protest the Jan. 20 inaugural in Washington, leading to concerns about violence and vandalism that could deliver a public relations hit to anti-Trump groups such as Occupy Inauguration.

Republican strategist Mike McKenna called the uproar “sad and pathological.” “Politically, it is really a mistake,” he said.

“The longer they go without coming to grips about what has happened over the last eight years with respect to the dissolution of the Democrat Party as a national party,” Mr. McKenna said, “that’s not good for anyone.”

Fixating on Mr. Trump also prevents Democrats from promoting a positive message for voters, especially if he winds up scoring policy victories early on in his administration.

“His job is to produce for the American people,” Mr. Gingrich said, “and frankly, to the degree that the Democrats decay into just being the anti-Trump party, they will keep themselves in the minority a long time.”

Obama’s White House, 2009: ‘Don’t Pretend’ Fox News Is a ‘Legitimate News Organization’

January 12, 2017

Obama’s White House, 2009: ‘Don’t Pretend’ Fox News Is a ‘Legitimate News Organization’, PJ MediaDavid Steinberg, January 11, 2017

trumpnewsconfPresident-elect Donald Trump speaks during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, in New York. The news conference was his first as President-elect. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Now, here’s a more insightful take: since Obama’s done it since it his first year in office; since Obama went two entire terms without taking more than a handful of questions from any center-right outlet, never mind singling out just one; and since not being one of the lucky dozen or so people out of 300 million Americans who gets to ask the president-elect a question does not infer that your rights have been violated . . . .

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Donald Trump refused to take a question from CNN reporter Jim Acosta today, labeling Acosta’s employer as “fake news.” Since then, mainstream media and celebrities are hyperventilating over Trump as if he bears the same viciously totalitarian impulses as, say, Fidel Castro — and that Trump is SCARY and GOING TO GET THEM.

As comforting as tweeting one’s victimhood status to millions appears to be to today’s left — and as ironic as exercising one’s free speech to millions via Twitter to claim the death of the First Amendment is to everyone else — this reactionary response sure doesn’t look good for the left in terms of ideological consistency.

Or sanity. For example, here’s one-percenter Patton Oswalt, who I’ll assume is tweeting from an in-home hyperbaric chamber:

Did the New York Times fear freedom of the press had been eradicated? No, the headline was simply that “Fox’s Volley With Obama” was … “Intensifying.”

Ironically, current CNN host and Trump critic Brian Stelter wrote the article. It begins:

Attacking the news media is a time-honored White House tactic but to an unusual degree, the Obama administration has narrowed its sights to one specific organization, the Fox News Channel, calling it, in essence, part of the political opposition.

We’re going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent,” said Anita Dunn, the White House communications director, in a telephone interview on Sunday. “As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.”

In 2009, the White House’s position on Fox News was that it was “an opponent,” at “war(!)” with the White House. And that they were not, in fact, a legitimate news organization.

They were to be treated as fake news. It was White House policy.

Here’s Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post:

John Harwood of NBC:

Mother Jones:

Media Matters:

Here’s George Takei:

Now, here’s a more insightful take: since Obama’s done it since it his first year in office; since Obama went two entire terms without taking more than a handful of questions from any center-right outlet, never mind singling out just one; and since not being one of the lucky dozen or so people out of 300 million Americans who gets to ask the president-elect a question does not infer that your rights have been violated, this tweeter brings some sanity whether you’re a Trump supporter or not:

Much better.

A necessary, natural move

January 11, 2017

A necessary, natural move, Israel Hayom, Prof. Eyal Zisser, January 10, 2017

(Please see also, Palestinians: Glorifying Mass Murderers. — DM)

The Palestinian terrorist, who perpetrated the deadly ramming at the Armon Hanatziv promenade Sunday afternoon in Jerusalem, did not any need any excuse to murder his victims. It’s possible he was influenced by previous ramming attacks carried out by Islamic State supporters in France and Berlin. It is also possible, however, that he was influenced by recent threats from people close to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who warned that moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — as promised by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump — would lead to an ungodly eruption of violence.

Either way, we must recognize that in Palestinian society — inundated with incitement on social media but also from its institutions — there exists a fundamental motivation to harm Israel and Israelis, and it only takes a little for this desire to bubble to the surface. The appearance of ISIS on the scene as a radicalizing element has enraptured a large portion of the younger generation in the Arab and Muslim world, only making this reality worse.

The terrorist attack in Jerusalem came a few days after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry chose to warn Trump against relocating the American embassy to Jerusalem, as doing so would send the region up in flames.

Perhaps Kerry has failed to notice that the Middle East is already burning, for quite some time now. The flames have consumed Libya, Syria, Yemen and Iraq. But of all these places, which represent living proof of his failed policies, the outgoing secretary of state chose to focus specifically on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and repeat the same tired mantra that the region’s problems are rooted in the fight between Israel and the Palestinians.

Kerry’s advice to Trump not to move the embassy, therefore, is misleading and should be ignored.

Why is transferring the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem not inherently hazardous, and why is it possible to “sell” such a move to the Arab world? Because any reasonable person understands that doing so would not change the status of the city or the existing reality there in any significant way, nor would it cause a shift in Washington’s fundamental positions on the conflict.

After all, Jerusalem is home to Israel’s state institutions, from the President’s Residence to the Knesset, and all foreign dignitaries visiting Israel, including U.S. President Barack Obama and Kerry, comes to the city to meet their Israeli counterparts. Can anyone seriously argue for forbidding a meeting between a visiting president and his Israeli counterpart in Jerusalem, because it could set the Middle East aflame?

Trump, therefore, can relocate the embassy to Jerusalem unperturbed and also make it clear that such a move, while necessary and natural, will not decide any of the fundamental questions pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not even regarding Jerusalem. With that, it would be best for Trump to notify Washington’s allies in the region and explain to them, politely but firmly, that moving the embassy is recognition of the reality on the ground, which Jordan and Egypt also accept. Doing so would help prevent any unnecessary emotional outbursts.

What Trump can learn from Kerry is that hesitation and trepidation are perceived as weakness in the region and invite pressure, belligerence and even a rejectionist approach. Russian President Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, who never sought favor from anyone, is respected and feared; certainly no one threatens to burn the region down in response to his policies.

Full Kellyanne Conway: Russia “Did Not Succeed” in Swaying Election | Meet The Press

January 8, 2017

Full Kellyanne Conway: Russia “Did Not Succeed” in Swaying Election | Meet The Press, NBC News via YouTube, January 8, 2017

 

Straun Stevenson Blames President Obama for the Legacy of Death and Destruction in Middle East

January 8, 2017

Straun Stevenson Blames President Obama for the Legacy of Death and Destruction in Middle East, Iran News Update, January 8, 2017

(Please see also, In its Last Days, Obama Administration Clings to Hope of a Positive Role for Iran. — DM)

obama-750

Struan Stevenson, president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association, former member of the European Parliament representing Scotland (1999-2014), president of the Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-14) and chairman of Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup (2004-14), writes in his January 6, 2017 article for UPI, that the legacy of President Barack Obama will be death and destruction in the Middle East. His vision cooperation between  the United States and Iran “has unlocked a Pandora’s box of conflict and sectarian strife across the zone.”

During the closing days of the Obama administration the controversial nuclear deal with Iran and his policies regarding that ruthless regime have allowed the mullahs to threaten the security of the Middle East, and perhaps, while Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Turkey have tried to prevent Iran’s aggressive expansionism in the region.

The U.S. and other countries is the West failed the Syrian opposition and allowed a civil war to continue into its seventh year, costing hundreds of thousands of lives, and setting off the huge migration crisis in Europe.

$150 billion of frozen assets were released to Iran by the U.S. as part of the nuclear deal, which the Tehran government was expected to use to shore up their economy, on the brink of collapse. Instead, the regime redouble its spending the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and Quds Force, both of which are listed terrorist organizations in the West and are involved in many conflicts in the Middle East. Not only does Iran support Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and Yemen’s Houthi rebels, it funds and supplies Hezbollah in Lebanon and the brutal Shi’ia militias in Iraq.

The nuclear deal has been breached, which Stevenson says demonstrates Iran’s complete disdain for the West. Two Qadr-H missiles were fired last March, in defiance of a U.N. Security Council resolution tied to the agreement. “Israel must be wiped out” was marked on the missiles, and the test firing took place on the day that the U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was visiting Israel. Vladimir Putin sent the first shipment of Russian S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran last August.

President Obama attempted to make deals with the so-called “moderate” and “smiling” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, which he interpreted as having a green light for Tehran’s expansionist policy. Rouhani is in fact in charge of a government which has executed around 3,000 people since he took office in 2013, ten just this year. Mass hangings are now carried out in public, even in football stadiums. Many of the officials in his government were complicit in the 1988 massacre of some 30,000 political prisoners, most of whom were part of the opposition People’s Mojahedin of Iran. In fact, it was supervised by Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, who is Rouhani’s justice minister.

Obama began his administration by agreeing with Iran, and backing Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister in Iraq. Stevenson writes, “Maliki was a puppet of the mullahs, doing their bidding by opening a direct route for Iranian troops and equipment heading to Syria to bolster the murderous Assad regime. Iran’s support for Maliki in Iraq and for Assad in Syria, two corrupt dictators who repressed and brutalized their own people, resulted in the rise of Daesh, also known as the Islamic State.Thanks to U.S. acquiescence over Tehran, Daesh grew and became a threat to the whole world.”  He continues, “Obama compounded this grievous mistake by providing American military support and air cover for the genocidal campaign being waged by pro-Iranian Shi’ia militias in Iraq. Once again Iran exploited its role in ousting Daesh as a means for implementing its ruthless policy of ethnic cleansing to annihilate the Sunnis in Iraq’s al-Anbar Province. Horrific sectarian atrocities were committed during the so-called “liberation” of the ancient cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. The Shi’ia militias, who formed the main part of the force fighting to recapture these cities from Daesh and are now engaged in the battle to recapture Mosul, are led by Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian terrorist Quds Force. Soleimani has also played a key role in Syria and the massacre in Aleppo.”

Tehran is gaining strength in Iraq. The Iraqi army is poorly trained, and the Iranian has Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s agreement to allowing Iranian-funded militias to take control of military operations. Political disarray in Baghdad, has paved the way for Iran to consolidate its hold in Iraq.

The unenviable task of trying to sort out the Middle East mess will be left to President-elect Donald Trump. Many people on his team believe that Iran is the main source of conflict in the Middle East and poses a greater threat to the West than North Korea or even Russia. It will be interesting to see how Trump will fare.

 

What Hath Barack Wrought?

January 8, 2017

What Hath Barack Wrought? PJ Media, Michael Walsh, January 7, 2017

obama-salman-saudi-sized-770x415xtObama and Saudi “king” Salman (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst – RTS77JX

Over at the Weekly Standard, my friend Lee Smith — one of the shrewdest voices in American journalism on the subject of the Middle East and foreign policy — takes the measure of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. It ain’t pretty:

The Obama chapter in American foreign policy ends like the climax of an action movie—with a fireball growing in the distance and filling the screen as a man in silhouette approaches in slow motion and then veers off camera. Barack Obama has set the Middle East on fire, and now it’s spreading.

The Obama administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran has emboldened the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, which now makes war openly in four Arab states (Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen) and is a growing threat to Israel and Saudi Arabia. The deal with Tehran that Obama boasts of as his signature foreign policy initiative guarantees, as the president himself acknowledged, that Iran will have an industrial-scale nuclear weapons program within 15 years.

After a 40-year absence from the Middle East, Russia has returned to the region, where it bombs Syria’s schools and hospitals as America and Europe watch helplessly. Washington’s traditional regional allies are scrambling to adjust to the new reality, which for the likes of Israel, Jordan, and Turkey means an opportunistic power on their borders that is allied with their existential enemies.

For Europe, the millions seeking refuge from the conflagration are agents of potential instability on the continent in the years to come; some in their midst are terrorists plain and simple. In just four years, or one presidential term, a civil uprising that started in Syria became a great Middle Eastern war over a host of sectarian, religious, and political hostilities dating back centuries.

Naturally, the country’s first affirmative action president doesn’t see it that way; no doubt, by his lights, he’s still every bit the equal of FDR and Abraham Lincoln he’s always thought himself to be. For a chief executive like Barack Hussein Obama, coddled practically from birth by a series of handlers, sycophants, media worshipers, excuse-makers and hagiographers, being an utter failure means never having to say you’re sorry.  The half-black president with the Muslim name was supposed to at least bring some cultural empathy to the thorny, if not to say intractable, problems of the Middle East — not just the eternal Arab-Israeli conflict but the even more eternal Muslim-Muslim conflict, not to mention the collateral damage of the one-sided Muslim-Christian conflict. That he hasn’t solved any of it is not his fault, but that he has exacerbated it most surely is.

Critics and even admirers of the president say that Syria will be a stain on his record. But that’s not how Obama sees it. The death and suffering of so many undoubtedly pains him, as he says. He says he wonders if he could have done anything else. Of course he could have, but he believed he had better reasons not to….

Obama’s foreign policy issued in part from his understanding of global realities but more from his interpretation of the American character. He believed that Americans tend to make a mess of things around the world. Obama is like a narrator in a Graham Greene novel; in our relations with the rest of humanity, as he sees it, we are 300 million naïfs abroad, whose intentions may be good but who lack the tragic sense that the rest of the world feels in its bones.

So who’s the naif now? Obama was less a Graham Green figure than Mark Twain’s Innocent Abroad. The way Smith sees it, Obama’s entire rationale was to wean America from what he saw as its shoot-first second nature; his entire foreign-policy apparatus became Dickens’ Circumlocution Office from Little Dorrit, dedicated to the proposition of How Not to Do It:

The Circumlocution Office was (as everybody knows without being told) the most important Department under Government. No public business of any kind could possibly be done at any time without the acquiescence of the Circumlocution Office. Its finger was in the largest public pie, and in the smallest public tart. It was equally impossible to do the plainest right and to undo the plainest wrong without the express authority of the Circumlocution Office. If another Gunpowder Plot had been discovered half an hour before the lighting of the match, nobody would have been justified in saving the parliament until there had been half a score of boards, half a bushel of minutes, several sacks of official memoranda, and a family-vault full of ungrammatical correspondence, on the part of the Circumlocution Office.

This glorious establishment had been early in the field, when the one sublime principle involving the difficult art of governing a country, was first distinctly revealed to statesmen. It had been foremost to study that bright revelation and to carry its shining influence through the whole of the official proceedings. Whatever was required to be done, the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the public departments in the art of perceiving — HOW NOT TO DO IT.

And that’s the Obama foreign policy in a nutshell. Of course in domestic affairs, the Choom Ganger from Punahou has been the exact opposite, baldly lying about such sub-rosa proclivities as same-sex marriage and hairy transvestites in the ladies’ loo until he was well past his final election. In both areas, however, he’s been a disgrace to the office and to the country, and we will be well rid of him when he finally leaves on Jan. 20.

Obama’s foreign policy, in the end, was not primarily about the rest of the world—it was about transforming the character of America. So where are we eight years on? Gelded, as he intended.

And, to coin a phrase, that’s one of the many reasons we now have Donald Trump. America never has been and never will be a neutered metrosexual among nations. As the Obama-ites are about to find out.

In its Last Days, Obama Administration Clings to Hope of a Positive Role for Iran

January 8, 2017

In its Last Days, Obama Administration Clings to Hope of a Positive Role for Iran, Iran News Update, January 7, 2017

(Iran News Update 

Iran News Update (INU) features news, analysis, and commentary on events inside Iran and the Iranian Diaspora around the world.  News and information is provided in cooperation with the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the parliament in exile of the Iranian Resistance, and the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

— DM)

hstaee-750

Kerry’s remarks seem to imply that the Obama administration’s early claims about Iranian moderation will continue to be repeated until it departs the office. But the incoming administration cannot be expected to pick up that thread. And articles like the above-mentioned Fox News editorial indicate that on such issues as Iran’s coordination with America’s enemies, Donald Trump and his advisors will recognize the continuance of Tehran’s worst behaviors.

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On Friday, Fox News published an editorial on the topic of recent nuclear threats from North Korea. As well as being a longstanding thorn in the side of the United States, the Korean dictatorship’s obsession with nuclear weapons development has also variously exposed the cooperation between Iran and other enemies of Western democracies.

This cooperation was highlighted in the Fox News article, with specific reference to a number of instances of Iran helping North Korea with its nuclear program. In the view of the author and other critics of recent US foreign policy, this assistance has effectively been further enabled by a conciliatory approach to dealing with the Iranian nuclear program. As well as failing to address this alleged cooperation while negotiating the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, the Obama administration has also taken very little punitive action against Iran following its post-agreement ballistic missile tests, which were conducted in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions on the matter.

This has arguably given North Korea the impression that the United States is presently either unwilling or unable to react to such tests, of which the Fox News article says the east Asian dictatorship conducted 20 in the past year alone. But to whatever extent Obama-era permissiveness encouraged these activities, that permissiveness is all but certain to end when Donald Trump assumes the presidency on January 20. And the Fox News article concludes with recommendations as to what Trump can do to prevent North Korea’s nuclear development and missile testing.

Those recommendations include bolstering US defensive capabilities along the West Coast, and also constraining “enablers” of North Korean development, chiefly the Islamic Republic of Iran. However, the appropriate means for such constraint remain a serious topic of dispute. On the campaign trail, Trump frequently accused the Obama administration of handing the Iranians a nuclear agreement that brought little benefit to the West. He also threatened to tear it up – a measure that theoretically would have taken the world community back to the drawing board and allowed it to pursue a more comprehensive suite of Iranian concessions.

But subsequent to his election, Trump has taken a different tack, promoting renegotiation of the existing deal instead of its cancellation. Even some Republicans who opposed the deal or viewed it as seriously flawed have taken a similar view. As an example, The Guardian featured an article on Friday that detailed the input offered to Trump by Bob Corker, the Republican head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He has been insistent that tearing up the nuclear deal would create more problems than it would solve, and that the best way forward is to enforce its existing provisions much more strictly than the Obama administration has done.

Iran has at various times been caught in the midst of small violations of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, including two instances of exceeding the deal’s defined limits on Iranian stockpiles of heavy water, a nuclear byproduct. The absence of consequences for these violations has gone a long way toward promoting the perception of the outgoing administration’s permissiveness. And there has been a great deal of associated speculation and analysis of the reasons for this. The most natural explanations deal with the administration’s fear of endangering Iranian participation in the agreement. But the situation may also be more complex than this and include worries about antagonizing Iran at a time when its participation in regional conflicts is occasionally viewed as a positive thing.

Real Clear Politics points out that this perspective was explicitly expressed by Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry in an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “Together, Iran and Russia had to prop [Assad] up, and save him from the possibility that the extremists might take over the country,” Kerry said, apparently deviating from previous US positions calling for Assad’s ouster and promoting the possibility of a victory by moderate rebel groups led by the Free Syrian Army.

Iran and Russia have widely been credited with not only preventing Assad’s fall to these groups, but also with damaging them so severely as to push the Syrian Civil War toward a situation in which the only choices for the country’s future are the established Assad dictatorship and the militant rebels affiliated with ISIL and the Al Nusra Front. Meanwhile, Iran has done its best to advance the notion that its own interests in the region are adverse to Islamic extremism. But Tehran’s pro-democratic opposition the National Council of Resistance of Iran has often referred to the Islamic Republic as the “prototype” for Islamic extremism throughout the world.

On Friday, The Iran Project pointed to recent statements by Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of Iran’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, claiming that Iran has always been committed to a political solution in Syria. If taken at face value, those comments can be expected to encourage Kerry’s notion that under current circumstances, a victory for Iran in Syria is a defeat for Islamic terrorism. But the trouble with this claim is that it can only be reasonably defended if one takes “Islamic terrorism” to refer only to “Sunni terrorism.”

As a major part of Iran’s strategy not only in Syria but also in Iraq and Yemen, it has directed recruitment and deployment of multitudes of Shiite militant groups to those battlefields. Previous reports have confirmed that many of these groups swear allegiance to the Islamic Republic over and above the governments of the countries in which they are operating. In this way, Iran is evidently extending its Hezbollah model of foreign influence into other part of the region. And in Syria, it is a well-known fact that Iran is actually utilizing the Lebanese paramilitary group to strengthen its operations and build a large-scale network that spans several nearby countries.

On Thursday, Xinhua News Agency pointed out that the Iranian leadership had fervently disputed rumors that Hezbollah would be withdrawing from the Syrian Civil War. It is not clear what the ultimate source of those rumors was. But they are possibly rooted in Turkey’s demands for such a withdrawal as part of a political solution to the crisis, or else in the outgoing US administration’s optimism about Iranian “moderation” and willingness to cooperate over important foreign affairs. But although Boroujerdi’s comments about a desire for a political solution promote this perception, they are belied by the Iranian leadership’s clear unwillingness to withdraw its militant proxies, even as they continue to violate ceasefire agreements negotiated by Turkey, Russia, and others.

Nevertheless, Kerry’s remarks seem to imply that the Obama administration’s early claims about Iranian moderation will continue to be repeated until it departs the office. But the incoming administration cannot be expected to pick up that thread. And articles like the above-mentioned Fox News editorial indicate that on such issues as Iran’s coordination with America’s enemies, Donald Trump and his advisors will recognize the continuance of Tehran’s worst behaviors.