Trump’s Foreign-Policy Revolution
His intimations of a new American isolationism are heard in capitals around the world.
Charles Krauthammer writes: The flurry of bold executive orders and of highly provocative Cabinet nominations (such as a secretary of education who actually believes in school choice) has been encouraging to conservative skeptics of Donald Trump. But it shouldn’t erase the troubling memory of one major element of Trump’s inaugural address.
“For 70 years, we sustained an international system of open commerce and democratic alliances that has enabled America and the West to grow and thrive. Global leadership is what made America great. We abandon it at our peril.”
The foreign-policy section has received far less attention than so revolutionary a declaration deserved. It radically redefined the American national interest as understood since World War II.
“Trump outlined a world in which foreign relations are collapsed into a zero-sum game. They gain, we lose.”
Trump outlined a world in which foreign relations are collapsed into a zero-sum game. They gain, we lose. As in: “For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries” while depleting our own. And most provocatively, this: “The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world.”
“Imagine how this resonates abroad. ‘America First’ was the name of the organization led by Charles Lindbergh that bitterly fought FDR before U.S. entry into World War II — right through the Battle of Britain — to keep America neutral between Churchill’s Britain and Hitler’s Reich.”
JFK’s inaugural pledged to support any friend and oppose any foe to assure the success of liberty. Note that Trump makes no distinction between friend and foe (and no reference to liberty). They’re all out to use, exploit, and surpass us.
[Read the full story here, at National Review]
No more, declared Trump: “From this day forward, it’s going to be only America First.”
Imagine how this resonates abroad. “America First” was the name of the organization led by Charles Lindbergh that bitterly fought FDR before U.S. entry into World War II — right through the Battle of Britain — to keep America neutral between Churchill’s Britain and Hitler’s Reich.
Read the rest of this entry »
Oliver Darcy reports: Sebastian Gorka, the Breitbart national security editor and a Fox News contributor, is expected to join President Donald Trump’s White House, a source familiar with the matter told Business Insider.
The source said that the position is likely in the National Security Council. A Fox News spokesperson said the network terminated Gorka’s contributor agreement when he informed executives of his new position.
Gorka, who has written stories for Breitbart since early 2014, was a founding member of the Council for Emerging National Security Affairs and has been awarded the Joint Civilian Service Commendation, according to a bio on his website. (He recently made his website private.) The national-security analyst is the author of “Defeating Jihad,” a New York Times best-seller.
[Check out Sebastian Gorka’s book “Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War” at Amazon.com]
He was also the vice president for counterterrorism and irregular warfare at the Threat Knowledge Group, and he said in a July Breitbart story that he had written policy papers for Trump. He was paid by the campaign for policy consulting, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Alan Dershowitz on President Obama: ‘He will go down in history as one of the worst foreign policy presidents ever’Posted: December 26, 2016
Trump’s Administration and Expertise
Noah Rothman writes: “Everybody who has signed a never-Trump letter or indicated an anti-Trump attitude is not going to get a job. And that’s most of the Republican foreign policy, national security, intelligence, homeland security, and Department of Justice experience.”
“122 members of the Republican national security community put their names to an open letter…Their denunciations of Donald Trump as fundamentally ill-suited to serve as commander-in-chief of the armed forces were thorough and compelling.”
This was the assessment of Paul Rosenzweig, a former senior official in George W. Bush’s Department of Homeland Security. He speculated that President-elect Donald Trump would not lack for top-tier GOP talent to fill high-profile Cabinet slots, but that thousands of positions at lower levels of the administration within the nation’s national security apparatus would be harder to staff.
“But on Tuesday, they lost the argument.”
Without the GOP expert class, the lower ranks of the Trump administration’s will be staffed with novices and political sycophants.
“Now that the public has decided, the question is: Can Trump do without them? Doubtless, he and his people think they can.”
Trump ran explicitly on a message of resentment toward the expert class, whose members, he contended, were responsible for the increasingly dangerous international security environment. They returned the favor: Nearly 200 of Republican foreign policy and national security experts came out publicly against Trump as a candidate who could not be trusted to lead this nation’s armed forces.
In early March, 122 members of the Republican national security community put their names to an open letter. “We have disagreed with one another on many issues, including the Iraq war and intervention in Syria,” the letter read.
“But we are united in our opposition to a Donald Trump presidency.” Another 50 GOP international affairs experts–including John Negroponte, Robert Zoellick, Tom Ridge, and Michael Chertoff–also put their names to a missive declaring Donald Trump a “risk” to American national security. Read the rest of this entry »
Noah Rothman writes: In just over a year, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has graduated from taking and holding territory inside its nascent “caliphate” to exporting terrorism around the globe. From Sydney to Ottawa, from Copenhagen to San Bernardino, this terrorist organization is directing or inspiring jihadists to conduct heinous acts of mass-casualty terrorism.
“The strategy here is clear, and it is one that this president has used to great effect in the past: Project to like minds in media that concerns over terrorism are a preoccupation of the intellectually sequestered right.”
Since October of last year, three such attacks have taken place in the United States; one of those being the worst act of radical Islamic terror in America since September 11, 2001. Subsequently, Americans now rate terrorism as their number one concern. They feel unsafe and insecure. They are justifiably afraid of the threat that might be just around the next corner. Americans are lunging for the shotgun and barricading the door. And what do they get from their leaders? Reassurance? Understanding? Resolve to defeat terrorism abroad before it comes home? No, they get a lecture on their latent hostility toward the Islamic faith and practicing Muslims. Stranger still, now that it has become inescapably clear that the fear of terrorism is broad-based, the left’s mission to convince itself that these concerns are isolated to the fever swamps has become even more urgent.
“To lend any credence to that notion would be to align yourself with that brutish, unthinking element in flyover country, and you wouldn’t want to be thought of by your peers in that way, would you?”
For Democrats, particularly those who must defend President Barack Obama’s record on foreign affairs and terrorism, there is no good news. According to the latest New York Times/CBS News survey, seven in 10 Americans now describe ISIS as a major threat to national security. Another 44 percent of respondents believe another attack inside the United States at some point in the next few months is “very” likely, greater than at any point since October 2001. 57 percent of those polled disapprove of Obama’s handling of the issue of terrorism. According to Gallup, 67 percent believe future “acts of terrorism” inside the United States are either somewhat or very likely. Gallup further revealed that confidence in the government’s ability to keep its citizens safe is lower than it has ever been since the 9/11 attacks. Simultaneously, a majority of Americans fear they will be the next victims of that forthcoming attack for the first time since 2001.
Perhaps most ominously from a Democratic perspective, satisfaction in the direction the country is headed has not been this depressed since November of 2014 when Republicans rode a wave of voter dissatisfaction to pick up control of the U.S. Senate.
Read the rest of this entry »
With the Middle East engulfed by the flames of sectarian conflict, Europe’s borders menaced by the threat of war and China starting to flex its muscles in Asia-Pacific, it is clear the world has entered a new period of volatility.
Ian Bremmer, the American foreign policy guru who coined the phrase “G-Zero” to describe this new and unstable world, is the author of ‘Superpower’, a best-selling new book that explores America’s options as a superpower in the 21st century…..(read more)
— Foreign Policy (@ForeignPolicy) April 21, 2015
Inexperienced President with Abysmal Foreign Policy Record and Negative Polls Reflecting Low Public Trust Tries to Give Foreign Policy Advice to Popular GOP Candidate
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker would be taking a foolish approach if he follows through with vows to revoke a nuclear deal with Iran if elected president. Obama was asked in an NPR News interview about Walker’s recent comments that he would reject any deal Obama reaches on his first day as president.
Obama says if the president’s ability to strike agreements starts being questioned, it will be a problem for allies and embolden U.S. enemies. He says he’s confident anyone knowledgeable enough to be elected president won’t take that approach. Read the rest of this entry »
How can the U.S. hope to keep tabs on Tehran’s nuclear program when we can’t even track its oil tankers?
Ms. Rosett is journalist in residence with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and heads its Investigative Reporting Project.
Claudia Rosett writes: American negotiators and their cohorts are trying to close a deal that would let Iran keep its nuclear program, subject to intricate conditions of monitoring and enforcement. Yet how is a deal like that supposed to be verified? The Obama administration can’t even keep up with the Iran-linked oil tankers on the U.S. blacklist.
Currently, there are at least 55 of these tankers the Treasury Department says are under U.S. sanctions. These are large ships, major links in the oil chain that sustains the Tehran regime, many of them calling at ports from Turkey to China. They are easier to spot and track than, say, smuggled nuclear parts (which, in a pinch, they could potentially squeeze on board).
“Typical of Iran’s shrouded tanker fleet is the blacklisted ship called the Sinopa, previously named the Superior and before that, the Daisy. Since early 2014, the Sinopa has visited India and China. It has also made multiple trips from Iran to Turkey, via the Suez Canal, according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence shipping database, the main source of ship-tracking data for this article.”
But Iran has engaged for years in what Treasury called “deceptive practices” to dodge sanctions. These include trying to mask the identities, and sometimes the smuggling activities, of its blacklisted ships by renaming them, reflagging them to other countries, veiling their ownership behind front companies, presenting false documents, and engaging in illicit ship-to-ship oil transfers.
“Judging by Treasury’s blacklist, the Sinopa—which Treasury still describes under her previous name of Superior—has done all of this under no identified flag. Why not—what is she hiding? The Treasury refuses to comment on specific cases.”
The result, according to information on Treasury’s publicly available blacklist, is that the U.S. government cannot establish under what flag at least 31 of these tankers are doing business. They can be identified by their unique seven-digit hull numbers, or IMO numbers, issued for the life of each ship. But a ship’s flag also is a vital identifier, one under which it signals its position, carries cargo and presents credentials to visit ports, buy insurance and pay fees. On Treasury’s Specially Designated Nationals list, which helps ensure global compliance with U.S. sanctions, in the category of “flag” for these 31 tankers Treasury states: “none identified.”
Under terms of the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action that frames the Iran nuclear talks, the U.S. does grant temporary waivers for a handful of places to buy Iranian oil in limited quantities: Turkey, India, China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. This means that some activities of these tankers may be legitimate. Read the rest of this entry »
— The Weekly Standard (@weeklystandard) March 9, 2015
Pam Key writes: Sunday at Christ Universal Temple in Chicago during his annual Saviours’ Day speech, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan attacked former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for his controversial comments saying Obama doesn’t love America.
Farrakhan said, “How did you grow up, Giuliani? A privileged cracker? Or I should say, a privileged devil….(read more)
The Kouachi Brothers Suspected in Charlie Hebdo Massacre were Named in a 2010 Plot to Spring an Islamist from JailPosted: January 8, 2015
America is not in decline. The U.S. will have the world’s most formidable military for the foreseeable future. Its economy remains the world’s largest, and its recovery will probably gather more steam in 2015. Its workforce is not aging nearly as quickly as that of Europe, Japan or China. No country has a greater capacity for technological innovation. Almost all the world’s biggest tech companies are based in the U.S. For next-generation cloud computing, artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing and nanotechnology, bet on the U.S. America has an entrepreneurial culture that celebrates not simply what has been accomplished but also what’s next. There is every reason to be confident that America has a bright 21st century future.
But its foreign policy is a different story. American power is on the wane, a process that will accelerate in 2015. Power is a measure of one’s ability to force others to do things…
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Silence of the Dogs
Sherlock Holmes famously solved a mystery by noticing the dog that didn’t bark in the night. Dogs that are not barking at night — nor in prime time — provide some useful clues to understanding the significance of this year’s election.
Contrary to the disparagement of some liberal pundits, this election is not about nothing. But is not about certain, specific things they might like to hear.
President Obama recently said that Democrats in serious Senate and House contests this year back “every one” of his programs. But you hear very little about those programs in their ads.
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Higher Tax Rates on High Earners
The stimulus package, for example, is not mentioned much. Nor are proposals by serious Democrats like Clinton administration veteran William Galston for a national infrastructure bank. These dogs aren’t barking.
“As Holmes might deduce, the solution to the clue of the non-barking Democratic dogs is that most voters lack faith in government to solve problems, to make their lives better or even to perform with minimal competence.”
The reasons are obvious. The stimulus didn’t stimulate the economy the way the Reagan tax cuts did in the 1980s. As for infrastructure, as Obama sheepishly admitted, there is no such thing — given environmental reviews and bureaucratic torpor—as a shovel-ready project. Read the rest of this entry »
“‘Worthy Fights’ is highly self-regarding even for a Washington book.”
Peggy Noonan writes: There’s the sense of an absence where the president should be.
Decisions are made—by someone, or some agency—on matters of great consequence, Ebola, for instance. The virus has swept three nations of West Africa; a Liberian visitor has just died in Dallas. The Centers for Disease Control says it is tracking more than 50 people with whom he had contact.
“Publicly Mr. Panetta has always been at great pains to show the smiling, affable face of one who is above partisanship. But this book is smugly, grubbily partisan.”
The commonsense thing—not brain science, just common sense—would be for the government to say: “As of today we will stop citizens of the affected nations from entering the U.S. We will ban appropriate flights, and as time passes we’ll see where we are. We can readjust as circumstances change. But for now, easy does it—slow things down.”
[Check out Panetta’s “Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace” at Amazon.com]
Instead the government chooses to let the flow of individuals from infected countries continue. They will be screened at five U.S. airports, where their temperatures will be taken and they will be asked if they have been around anyone with Ebola.
A lot of them, knowingly or unknowingly, have been around Ebola. People who are sick do not in the early stages have elevated temperatures. People who are desperate to leave a plague state will, understandably if wrongly, lie on questionnaires.
“He is telling partisan Democrats on the ground that he’s really one of them, he hates those Republicans too, so you can trust him when he tells you Mr. Obama’s presidency is not a success.”
U.S. health-care workers at airports will not early on be organized, and will not always show good judgment. TSA workers sometimes let through guns and knives. These workers will be looking for microbes, which, as they say, are harder to see. A baby teething can run a fever; so will a baby with the virus. A nurse or doctor with long experience can tell the difference. Will the airport workers?
None of this plan makes sense. Read the rest of this entry »
An interview with historian Victor Davis Hanson
Directed and Edited by: Joshua Hamilton
Interview and Writing by: Evan Carter
Camera Two: Anders Kiledal
Published on Sep 10, 2014
Buried in a Dell computer captured in Syria are lessons for making bubonic plague bombs and missives on using weapons of mass destruction
Harald Doornbos and Jenan Moussa reporting, for Foreign Policy, ANTAKYA, Turkey — Abu Ali, a commander of a moderate Syrian rebel group in northern Syria, proudly shows a black laptop partly covered in dust. “We took it this year from an ISIS hideout,” he says.
“The ISIS laptop contains more than the typical propaganda and instruction manuals used by jihadists. The documents also suggest that the laptop’s owner was teaching himself about the use of biological weaponry.”
Abu Ali says the fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which have since rebranded themselves as the Islamic State, all fled before he and his men attacked the building. The attack occurred in January in a village in the Syrian province of Idlib, close to the border with Turkey, as part of a larger anti-ISIS offensive occurring at the time. “We found the laptop and the power cord in a room,” he continued, “I took it with me. But I have no clue if it still works or if it contains anything interesting.”
As we switched on the Dell laptop, it indeed still worked. Nor was it password-protected. But then came a huge disappointment: After we clicked on “My Computer,” all the drives appeared empty.
Appearances, however, can be deceiving. Upon closer inspection, the ISIS laptop wasn’t empty at all: Buried in the “hidden files” section of the computer were 146 gigabytes of material, containing a total of 35,347 files in 2,367 folders. Abu Ali allowed us to copy all these files — which included documents in French, English, and Arabic — onto an external hard drive.
The laptop’s contents turn out to be a treasure trove of documents that provide ideological justifications for jihadi organizations — and practical training on how to carry out the Islamic State’s deadly campaigns. They include videos of Osama bin Laden, manuals on how to make bombs, instructions for stealing cars, and lessons on how to use disguises in order to avoid getting arrested while traveling from one jihadi hot spot to another.
For Foreign Policy, Elias Groll reports: Three weeks into deadly fighting in Gaza and along its border, Israeli forces have been surprised to encounter an extensive, sophisticated tunnel system that has been used by Hamas to infiltrate Israeli territory and carry out raids. The destruction of that tunnel system has become a focal point of Israeli military operations, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has emphasized that any cease-fire must allow his forces to continue identifying and sealing those tunnels.
To understand why these tunnels have become such a hot-button issue, one need look no further than a video released by Hamas by Tuesday, July 29. That video shows a group of fighters exiting such a tunnel and attacking an Israeli military installation. Read the rest of this entry »
— Foreign Policy (@ForeignPolicy) July 22, 2014
Poll: Obama’s Choice in Neckties Hits Record Highs, Leadership, Foreign Policy, Economy, Health Care, Competence, Not So GoodPosted: June 18, 2014
Though the President’s taste in fine’s menswear is enjoying its highest approval rating since 2012, especially his ties, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll reveals that President Obama’s disapproval ratings on leadership, foreign policy, and competence, are among his worst ever.
After a slight rebound last month in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, President Obama is back to his previous overall job approval low of 41% (a drop of 3%) and hit record lows on his handling of foreign policy and overall competence…
“It all comes back to one word: leadership.”
— Democratic pollster Peter Hart
…A full 57% (a record high for this poll) disapprove of the way Obama is handling foreign policy. Only 37% approve. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the editors at Foreign Policy was pushing me yesterday to say more about Iraq, despite my feeling of numb wordlessness.
OK, here goes. My question is, Why the hell is everyone so surprised ? Was this not inevitable? Perhaps it was foretold on the day we removed Sunni power from Baghdad, and so took down the bulwark that prevented the westward expansion of Persian power. Certainly it looked likely from the time Maliki decided to attack the Sunni towns to the west of Baghdad. Read the rest of this entry »
We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.
— CIA (@CIA) June 6, 2014
Obama: “We need to do stuff. And the stuff we will do will not be stuff that a crazy person says we should do. It will be good stuff.”
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) May 28, 2014
President Obama outlined his foreign policy on Wednesday during a speech at the graduation ceremony at West Point.
Throughout his speech, Obama used “straw man” arguments, setting up “critics” or “skeptics” that existed to disagree with the president before being knocked down by his rhetoric. While some of these positions are held by political
figures such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) or Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), these politicians chafe at having their views presented in a narrow context. For the sake of his speech, Obama presents these positions as the extreme, while carefully positioning himself in the middle.
Here are five examples:
1. Those who believe America is in decline
Obama assured West Point graduates that “America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world” and those who think differently are just wrong.
“Those who argue otherwise – who suggest that America is in decline, or has seen its global leadership slip away – are either misreading history or engaged in partisan politics,” he said.
2. Those who warn against foreign entanglements
President Obama pointed out that throughout history, foreign policy has fallen into two camps, one of which were “self-described realists” who were reluctant to go to war.
“[T]here have been those who warned against foreign entanglements that do not touch directly on our security or economic well-being,” he said.
Remember when President Obama was in this camp? Not anymore. Read the rest of this entry »
Zack Beauchamp’s Gun-Ban Fantasy: ‘…one of the most ignorant, ahistorical, illiterate, badly argued, self-indulgent things I’ve read in my life’Posted: February 20, 2014
This is one of the most ignorant, ahistorical, illiterate, badly argued, self-indulgent things I’ve read in my life: http://t.co/Y99NpGJ9OE
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) February 20, 2014
Ban the Second Amendment
Meet Zack Beauchamp, self-appointed constitutional expert. Zack’s photo and resume says it all:
Zack Beauchamp is a Reporter/Blogger for ThinkProgress. He previously contributed to Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish at Newsweek/Daily Beast, and has also written for Foreign Policy and Tabletmagazines. Zack holds B.A.s in Philosophy and Political Science from Brown University and an M.Sc in International Relations from the London School of Economics.