Why are we funneling weapons to Hezbollah?

Bilal Hussein | AP Photo

Conservative Review, by Daniel Horowitz, Aug. 16, 2017:

What if I told you we were sending military hardware to ISIS? Would you march on Washington with an outpouring of righteous indignation?

Well, we are now arming Hezbollah, which is worse than arming ISIS, given that the caliphate is on the decline and Hezbollah and Iran are gaining more power by the day. Oh, and by the way, the last time I checked, we have a Republican in the White House.

On Monday, the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon announced the planned shipment of 32 M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles from America to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), at an “investment” of $100 million.

Meanwhile, our soldiers have been working with them and training them on how to use a number of other weapons systems that have been transferred to the Lebanese army over the past year. They include howitzers, grenade launchers, machine guns, mortars, hellfire missiles, night vision devices, and thermal sights technology.

At this point, any thinking person should be asking that, given that Lebanon is controlled by Hezbollah, and is a client state of Iran, doesn’t this mean that we are essentially arming Hezbollah?

Everyone knows that the Lebanese government is completely at the mercy of Hezbollah and Iran. Given that Hezbollah is much stronger than the LAF, is comprised of many Shiites, and is subject to the direction and veto power of its Iranian masters, it defies logic to think that they could possibly maintain control over U.S. aid without Hezbollah confiscating it.

As Tony Badran of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies observes, “Hezbollah, of course, controls the Lebanese government and dictates the operations of its armed forces. Indeed, it was Hezbollah that laid out the battle plans for the current operation in northeastern Lebanon, including what role the LAF would play in it.” This is why Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned that “the Lebanese army is a subsidiary unit of Hezbollah” and that Lebanon’s president, Michel Aoun, “is another Nasrallah operative.”

Yet, Trump embraced Lebanon’s prime minister, Saad Hariri, in a recent visit to the White House and praised him as a partner in the war against terrorists. It’s yet another example of where the nuances of alliances and policy are lost on the president, which prompts him to support action that repudiates his campaign promises and stated objectives on Iran.

We were told by apologists of the Saudi arms deal that a complete embrace of Saudi Arabia was needed to combat Iran. Yet, here we are helping their strongest proxy that is directly controlled by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) figures on the ground.

This is a symptom of a broader disease inherent in our Middle East strategy over the past decade, whereby we arm multiple sides of Islamic civil wars, and often, fight ourselves and our own weapons by proxy. Aside from the immorality of ensuring that arms fall into the hands of Hezbollah, such a move has two distinct policy outcomes: It further muddles our involvement in Syria, and strengthens Hezbollah’s desire to open a second front against Israel on its eastern border.

According to the State Department, there are approximately 7,000 Hezbollah fighters in Syria. They are fighting alongside the IRGC and the Assad regime against other Islamic insurgents including ISIS. The irony is that our own military is fighting ISIS as well.

Yet, at the same time, we are launching air strikes against Shiite militias allied with Hezbollah, but now we are also almost directly arming Hezbollah. Oh, and we happen to be assisting some of the very same Shiite militias in Iraq! The Hezbollah Brigades, along with fellow Shiite militias, such as the Sayyid al Shuhada Brigades and the Imam Ali Brigades, are benefiting from our support in Iraq, even though they are controlled by the Iranian Quds Force.

Is your head spinning yet? Rather than enable our enemies to fight with each other to the benefit of our security interests, we have them play ourselves against our own interests by supporting the worst elements of all sides by placing our weapons and special forces into the hands of our enemies. Two more soldiers died earlier this week in Iraq, very likely engaged in a mission that at least indirectly buttresses Iranian hegemony.

Welcome to the world of Islamic civil wars and our wrongheaded involvement on multiple and conflicting sides in each given theater, where there is no discernable strategic objective that places our interests first.

Instead, the sum of our actions is that we are directly aiding Iran in most theaters. Unlike Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq, Iran is the one country in the Middle East that poses a direct threat to our interests. And if the Iranians are allowed to continue expanding their wealth and reach, they will succeed in threatening our homeland, just like North Korea.

More worrisome is that fact that Hezbollah, in its own right, poses a greater homeland security threat than the major Sunni terror groups, because it has a vast network inside our country and in Latin America. Several operatives have been arrested in recent months. Why in the world would we help them in the Middle East on numerous fronts, arm them … and then fight against them on other fronts?

The Battle for Trump’s Foreign Policy

Gatestone Institute, by Soeren Kern, August 9, 2017

  • National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said that an ongoing review of Iran policy will be completed by late summer. In the meantime, however, he has fired opponents of the Iran deal, including Derek Harvey, who reportedly drafted a comprehensive plan on how to withdraw from the agreement. A White House insider described Trump’s Iran policy as “completely gutted” in the aftermath of McMaster’s purge.
  • “Everything the president wants to do, McMaster opposes. Trump wants to get us out of Afghanistan — McMaster wants to go in. Trump wants to get us out of Syria — McMaster wants to go in. Trump wants to deal with the China issue — McMaster doesn’t. Trump wants to deal with the Islam issue — McMaster doesn’t. You know, across the board, we want to get rid of the Iran deal — McMaster doesn’t. It is incredible to watch it happening right in front of your face. Absolutely stunning.” — Former NSC official, Daily Caller.
  • “The President’s ultimate success will in large part depend on the degree of commitment to his agenda among the people he appoints to ensure its success…. The most important rule of presidential personnel management is to appoint people who are fully committed to the presidential agenda.” — “Personnel Is Policy,” The Heritage Foundation.

The ongoing purge of people loyal to U.S. President Donald J. Trump at the National Security Council, the main organization used by the president to develop national security policy, is part of a power struggle over the future direction of American foreign policy.

Trump campaigned on a promise radically to shift American foreign policy away from the “globalism” pursued by his predecessors to one of a “nationalism” which puts “America first.” He also vowed to: “defeat” Islamic extremism; “tear up” the nuclear deal with Iran; “reset” bilateral relations with Israel by moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem “on Day One” of his administration; and “direct the Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator.”

Trump’s election has set in motion a bitter power struggle between two main factions: those led by White House strategist Steve Bannon — who are devoted to implementing the president’s foreign policy agenda, and those led by National Security Advisor Herbert Raymond “H.R.” McMaster — who appear committed to perpetuating policies established by the Obama administration.

Since becoming national security advisor in February, McMaster has clashed with Trump and Bannon on policy relating to Afghanistan, China, Cuba, Islam, Israel, Iran, Mexico, NATO, North Korea, Russia and Syria, among others.

McMaster has also been accused of trying to undermine the president’s foreign policy agenda by removing from the National Security Council key Trump loyalists — K.T. McFarland, Adam Lovinger, David Cattler, Tera Dahl, Rich Higgins, Derek Harvey, and Ezra Cohen-Watnick— and replacing them with individuals committed to maintaining the status quo.

An analysis of the foreign policy views of McMaster and some of his senior staff at the National Security Council shows them to be overwhelmingly at odds with what Trump promised during the campaign.

National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster has been accused of trying to undermine President Donald Trump’s foreign policy agenda by removing from the National Security Council key Trump loyalists. Pictured: President Trump and McMaster at the announcement of McMaster’s appointment as National Security Advisor, on February 20, 2017. (Image source: White House video screenshot)

National Security Advisor

President Trump selected Army Lieutenant General McMaster to replace retired Air Force Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who resigned as national security advisor on February 13 after leaked intelligence reports alleged that he misrepresented his conversations with a Russian diplomat. McMaster’s views on foreign policy are — by and large — the mirror opposite of those held by Flynn.

Flynn, for example, argued that the West is in a civilizational clash with Islam and that the war on jihadism cannot be won unless the ideology that drives it is defeated. McMaster, by contrast, categorically rejects the notion of a clash of civilizations; his public statements on Islam are virtually indistinguishable from those of the Obama administration.

On February 23, during his first staff meeting, McMaster reportedly urged National Security Council employees to avoid using the term “radical Islamic terrorism” because, according to McMaster, groups such as the Islamic State represent a “perversion of Islam” and are therefore “un-Islamic.” McMaster added that he is “not on board” with using the term because it targets “an entire religion” and may alienate Muslim allies in the Middle East.

McMaster pleaded with Trump to remove references to “radical Islamic terrorism” from the president’s speech to Congress on February 28. At the time, Trump held his ground: he stressed a commitment to protect America from “radical Islamic terrorism.”

More recently, however, McMaster appears to have prevailed. Trump’s May 21 speech in Saudi Arabia — the world’s greatest purveyor of radical Islam — was conspicuous for its moderation: “We are not here to lecture — we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership — based on shared interests and values.”

In a June 4 speech to the “Global Forum” of the American Jewish Committee, McMaster praised Trump’s Saudi address, calling it an “extraordinary speech” in which the president “outlined a path of unity and peace to people of all faiths.” McMaster also claimed that leaders throughout the Muslim world had condemned “those who are hijacking Islam to justify violence against innocents.”

McMaster’s public position on the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran remains ambiguous. In July, he spoke at length about why the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a bad deal and how it has not changed Iran’s behavior. On the other hand, he pressed Trump into certifying to Congress — twice in six months — that Iran is complying with the agreement, despite many indications that it is not.

McMaster said that an ongoing review of Iran policy will be completed by late summer. In the meantime, however, he has fired opponents of the Iran deal, including Derek Harvey, who reportedly drafted a comprehensive plan on how to withdraw from the agreement. A White House insider described Trump’s Iran policy as “completely gutted” in the aftermath of McMaster’s purge.

McMaster has also refused to publish the secret side deals the Obama administration signed with Iran which allow Tehran to maintain critical aspects of its nuclear program. Not surprisingly, many observers are convinced that McMaster will try to prevent Trump from honoring his campaign pledge to rescind or renegotiate the nuclear deal.

During the campaign, Trump repeatedly described the JCPOA as a “disaster” and “the worst deal ever negotiated.” On February 1, after Iran launched a ballistic missile, the White House signaled a tougher line on Tehran. “As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice,” Flynn had said.

Flynn’s ouster less than two weeks later was rumored to have been orchestrated by Obama loyalists in order to preserve the Iran deal:

“The effort, said to include former Obama administration adviser Ben Rhodes — the architect of a separate White House effort to create what he described as a pro-Iran echo chamber — included a small task force of Obama loyalists who deluged media outlets with stories aimed at eroding Flynn’s credibility, multiple sources revealed.

“The operation primarily focused on discrediting Flynn, an opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, in order to handicap the Trump administration’s efforts to disclose secret details of the nuclear deal with Iran that had been long hidden by the Obama administration.”

Meanwhile, McMaster has been described as being “deeply hostile” to Israel, which he reportedly considers an “occupying power.” American-born Israeli journalist Caroline Glick, citing White House sources, elaborated:

“According to senior officials aware of his behavior, he constantly refers to Israel as the occupying power and insists falsely and constantly that a country named Palestine existed where Israel is located until 1948 when it was destroyed by the Jews….

“McMaster disagrees and actively undermines Trump’s agenda on just about every salient issue on his agenda. He fires all of Trump’s loyalists and replaces them with Trump’s opponents, like Kris Bauman, an Israel hater and Hamas supporter who McMaster hired to work on the Israel-Palestinian desk. He allows anti-Israel, pro-Muslim Brotherhood, pro-Iran Obama people like Robert Malley to walk around the NSC and tell people what to do and think. He has left Ben (reporters know nothing about foreign policy and I lied to sell them the Iran deal) Rhodes’ and Valerie Jarrett’s people in place.”

On May 16, just days before Trump’s visit to the Middle East, McMaster refused to comment on whether the Western Wall is within sovereign Israeli territory and dismissed the matter as a “policy decision.” McMaster also downplayed the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount: “He [Trump] is going to the Western Wall to connect with three of the world’s great religions,” McMaster said.

According to Glick, it was McMaster, not the U.S. consul in Jerusalem as initially reported, who pressed Trump into rejecting a request from Israel that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu join the president during a visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem. “No Israeli leaders will join President Trump at the Western Wall,” McMaster confirmed.

McMaster has also attempted to thwart Trump’s outreach to Russia. On July 20, the Associated Press reported that McMaster objected to an extended dinner conversation between Trump and Putin on the sidelines of the recent G20 summit in Germany. McMaster then insulted Trump behind his back by expressing his disapproval of the president to several foreign officials:

“McMaster specifically said that he disagreed with Trump’s decision to hold an Oval Office meeting in May with top Russian diplomats and with the president’s general reluctance to speak out against Russian aggression in Europe.”

McMaster also advised the president against holding an official bilateral meeting with Putin. In the end, Trump held his ground: McMaster was not allowed to attend the meeting. Only Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and a translator made up the U.S. side.

In April, Trump said that he wanted South Korea to pay for the $1 billion THAAD missile defense system being deployed in the country to protect against missiles from North Korea. South Korean officials responded that, under a bilateral agreement reached with the Obama administration, the United States is responsible for bearing the cost. McMaster then “corrected” Trump by reassuring South Korean officials that the United States will indeed pay for the system. “The last thing I would ever do is contradict the president of the United States,” McMaster told Fox News.

A former NSC official told the Daily Caller that McMaster is “subverting” Trump’s foreign policy at every turn:

“Everything the president wants to do, McMaster opposes. Trump wants to get us out of Afghanistan — McMaster wants to go in. Trump wants to get us out of Syria — McMaster wants to go in. Trump wants to deal with the China issue — McMaster doesn’t. Trump wants to deal with the Islam issue — McMaster doesn’t. You know, across the board, we want to get rid of the Iran deal — McMaster doesn’t. It is incredible to watch it happening right in front of your face. Absolutely stunning.”

Another former official confirmed that sentiment:

“I just fear there is a real creeping of status quo thinking that is taking over the place. I was upset while I was there in seeing how empowered Obama holdovers under McMaster were to essentially perpetuate Obama-era policies.”

Jed Babbin, a former Pentagon official who served during the first Bush administration, reported that McMaster has retained “several dozen” Obama loyalists, many in positions of significant responsibility. In an essay for the American Spectator, he wrote:

“There are four people in positions of responsibility in the NSC who have been identified by a source as people who had been “direct reports” to Rhodes — i.e., who worked under his direct supervision — who McMaster has protected and retained. They are: Abigail Grace (Special Assistant), Fernando Cutz (NSC Director for South America), Andrea Hall (NSC Senior Director for WMD, Terrorism & Threat Reduction), and Merry Lin (‎Director for Global and Asia Economics).

“Why would any national security advisor working for Trump not rid the NSC of these people immediately and the dozens of others as soon as he could? One source told me there are over fifty such holdovers on the NSC staff.

“None of the four — and the other holdovers — should remain employed at the NSC. Every one of them should be viewed as a political operative dedicated to thwarting whatever Trump wants to do.

“McMaster recently told an NSC staff meeting, “There’s no such thing as a holdover.” That is simply bizarre.

“The problem is that McMaster is the ultimate holdover. He comprises a significant threat to national security.”

White House insiders told the Washington Free Beacon that McMaster is purging Trump loyalists who dare to clash with career government staffers and holdovers from the Obama administration “on issues as diverse as military strategies for Syria and Afghanistan, whether to tear up Obama’s landmark Iran deal, the controversial détente with Cuba, the U.S. role in confronting Islamic radicalism, and the Paris Climate Accord.”

More purges are said to be on the way: “McMaster basically has this list…. They’re taking out people who were chosen to best implement the president’s policy that he articulated during the campaign.”

Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy

McMaster’s first personnel decision was to name Dina Habib Powell, an establishment Republican and a veteran of the George W. Bush administration, to serve as Deputy National Security Advisor — a post already filled by K.T. McFarland.

Powell, an Egyptian-American, was originally brought into the White House as an informal advisor to Ivanka Trump. Powell, a former executive at Goldman Sachs, is said to have a “centrist” approach to politics; critics fear she will push for a softer line on national security, climate change policy and trade.

McFarland, a former official in the Reagan administration, has advocated for a hardline foreign policy. She has been a vocal critic of the Obama administration’s timidity in the face of radical Islam, which she has described as “the most virulent, lethal, apocalyptic death cult in history.” McFarland has warned that “global Islamist jihad is at war with all of Western civilization” and that “we are losing this war.” McFarland added:

“If we are to defeat radical Islam, it will be only with a multifaceted, comprehensive strategy that calls on all the aspects of the national power of ourselves and our allies — like we summoned to defeat the Nazis in World War II or the Communists in the Cold War.”

McFarland has also been a vocal supporter of Trump’s “America First” foreign policy: “Too many times in the last eight years, or even more, we’ve always thought, ‘What’s better for the global community?’ The question should be: ‘What’s better for America?'”

Powell, by contrast, was hired by the Bush administration to “defuse some of the misperceptions” about the United States in the Arab world. At a World Economic Forum event in Jordan, for example, Powell apologized for America’s alleged insensitivity to Arab culture. “So enthusiastic is our desire to help that we sometimes forget to stop and listen to others,” she said.

McFarland has criticized the 2015 Iran nuclear deal: “We gave them everything up front — the money, the sanctions, the path to nuclear weapons — and we demanded nothing in return.” She has also advocated stirring up popular discontent in Iran in order to bring about regime change.

Powell, however, is said to have a strong personal relationship with Iranian-born Valerie Jarrett, the brainchild of the nuclear deal with Iran and one of Barack Obama’s closest advisors. Jarret reportedly has moved into Obama’s home in Washington, D.C. to lead a resistance movement against Trump’s efforts to reverse his predecessor’s foreign policies.

In an interview with The Hill, a Republican operative said of Powell:

“This is not who we voted for. The base voted for Trump and his policies. Not Gary Cohn’s, not Dina Powell’s. Not the left wing of the Democratic Party. This is a Republican White House. No one is questioning their competence, but there are a lot of questions about whether they are trying to pull away from Trump’s agenda.”

McFarland has been offered the post of U.S. ambassador to Singapore.

White House Coordinator for the Middle East

On July 27, McMaster fired retired Army Colonel Derek Harvey, Trump’s top Middle East advisor. Harvey, who is fluent in Arabic and holds a Ph.D., served for more than two decades in the military and later joined the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). He has been described as an “out-of-the-box thinker who has shown a keen knack for identifying threats before they’ve matured.”

The Weekly Standard reported that Harvey was “driving a more aggressive approach to Iran than that of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Sources tell TWS that Mattis, in particular, had disagreements with Harvey and that he raised the issue with National Security Adviser HR McMaster. McMaster met with Harvey this morning to deliver the news.”

In May, Bloomberg reported that Harvey had compiled a list of Obama holdovers at the National Security Council who were suspected of leaking to the press. When Trump and Bannon pressed McMaster to fire those on the list, he refused, asserting his prerogative over personnel decisions.

In January, a month before McMaster was hired, Harvey was instrumental in pressing the U.S. State Department to reverse the Obama administration’s last-minute $221 million payment to the Palestinian Authority.

Retired Army Gen. Jack Keane called Harvey “one of the finest intel analysts that I’ve ever encountered.” Keane told NBC News he was “befuddled as to why he is being removed.”

Harvey has been replaced by Michael Bell, another retired colonel with a Ph.D. He reportedly sees eye-to-eye with McMaster.

Bell, who served in the first Iraq war, was the lead writer for the 2006 National Military Strategic Plan for the War on Terrorism, the U.S.’s global military strategy in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. The 40-page document does not once include the word jihad; it refers to the enemy only as “violent extremism” and “violent extremists.” The document, in fact, repeatedly denies any link between terrorism and Islam. It states:

“The Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) is not a religious or cultural clash between Islam and the West, although our extremist enemies find it useful to characterize the war that way. These violent extremists see the U.S. and the West as primary obstacles to achieving their political ends.”

A section called “Nature of the Enemy” states: “The primary enemy is a transnational movement of extremist organizations, networks and individuals — and their state and non-state supporters — which have in common that they exploit Islam and use terrorism for ideological ends.”

Elsewhere the report states: “The belief that violent extremist efforts are harmful to the Islamic community, and contrary to the teachings of Islam, must come from within Islam itself.”

In a February 20 Washington Post hit piece on Sebastian Gorka, one of President Trump’s top counter-terrorism advisors, Bell accused Gorka of being an “uneven scholar” because of his belief that jihadism is rooted in Islam and the violent passages of the Koran. Bell, a former chancellor of the College of International Security Affairs (CISA), part of the Pentagon’s National Defense University, said that Gorka’s former supervisors had pushed him to incorporate other perspectives on Islam and to publish in peer-reviewed journals where his ideas would be challenged and perhaps tempered. Gorka insisted that he wasn’t interested in that kind of scholarship, Bell said.

Senior Director for Israel and Palestinian Issues

On May 4, McMaster hired Kris Bauman to be the Trump administration’s new senior advisor on Israel. Bauman’s views on Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are indistinguishable from those of the Obama administration.

Bauman’s first official function was to attend a reception honoring Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas — whose term of office expired eight years ago. Those in attendance included Martin Indyk, the Obama administration’s special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, who has blamed Israel for the failure of peace talks. Indyk’s chief of staff during the negotiations, Ilan Goldenberg, was also in attendance.

In September 2016, Bauman and Goldenberg published a document outlining “a security system for the two-state solution” based on “1967 borders with reciprocal swaps.” The report was presumably prepared with the expectation that Hillary Clinton would win the presidential election and eventually implement the plan.

Trump, by contrast, has said that Israel must be allowed to maintain defensible borders; Israeli leaders have long insisted that the 1967 borders are militarily indefensible. It is safe to assume that Bauman will use his new position on the NSC to advocate for pressing Israel into making substantial territorial concessions to the Palestinians.

Investigative journalist Daniel Greenfield has reviewed Bauman’s 320-page doctoral thesis on the Middle East peace process:

“In the hundreds of pages, Bauman makes occasional efforts to pretend that he’s delving into the narratives of both sides, but his conclusion makes it painfully clear whose side he’s on. Kris Bauman is eager to whitewash the Muslim Brotherhood terrorists of Hamas…. Bauman accuses, ‘Israel and the Quartet refused to engage with Hamas and instead turned Gaza into an open-air prison.’ This isn’t even an anti-Israel position. It’s Hamas propaganda….

“In Kris Bauman’s twisted mind, the obstacle to peace isn’t PLO and Hamas terrorism, but supporters of Israel in America. He favorably quotes Walt and Mearsheimer’s anti-Semitic tract, The Israel Lobby. Bauman urges overcoming the ‘Israel Lobby’ which he claims ‘is a force that must be reckoned with, but it is a force that can be reckoned with.

“Progress in the peace process requires that the United States apply diplomatic and economic pressure on Israel. And indeed, Bauman’s recommendations mirrored the policy of Obama, Hillary and Kerry.”

Greenfield also notes that Bauman’s dissertation extensively quotes Robert Malley, an anti-Israel apologistfor Hamas who was a key Middle East advisor to President Obama. In May, Conservative Review reportedthat Malley has continued to attend National Security Council meetings at the Trump White House, even while criticizing Trump’s policies:

“So who is bringing Malley into these National Security Council meetings? Sources close to the situation say that much of the NSC professional staff still consists of holdovers from the Obama administration and that some of these holdovers served directly under Malley when he was a senior director at the NSC for the Middle East region.”

On May 17, the Zionist Organization of America, one of the oldest and strongest pro-Israel groups in the United States, issued the following statement:

“The ZOA has asked General McMaster, Director of the National Security Council, to reconsider his appointment of new National Security Council advisor on Israel-Palestinian matters, pro-Hamas Kris Bauman. This Administration should be ‘cleaning out the swamp’ from proponents, architects, and protégés of the Obama administration’s dangerous Middle East policies. Mr. Bauman’s ideas are particularly dangerous.”

Bauman replaces Yael Lempert, a controversial NSC staffer from the Obama White House who remained in her position during the first four months of the Trump administration. During that time, she reportedly“poisoned” Trump’s mind by persuading him that Jewish settlements in the West Bank are to blame for the stalled peace negotiations.

In a February 10 interview with Israel Hayom, Trump surprised many when he adopted a harder line on settlements. “I am not somebody that believes that going forward with these settlements is a good thing for peace,” he said.

Analyst Lee Smith reported that, according to a former official in the Clinton administration, Lempert “is considered one of the harshest critics of Israel on the foreign policy far left.” The source added:

“From her position on the Obama NSC, she helped manufacture crisis after crisis in a relentless effort to portray Israel negatively and diminish the breadth and depth of our alliance. Most Democrats in town know better than to let her manage Middle East affairs. It looks like the Trump administration has no idea who she is or how hostile she is to the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

In June, Lempert, a career foreign service officer, was promoted to acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Egypt and the Maghreb at the U.S. State Department.

Senior Director for Intelligence Programs

On August 2, McMaster fired Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the NSC’s senior director for intelligence programs, the main White House liaison to the intelligence agencies. McMaster had tried to fire Cohen-Watnick in March, but at the time he was overruled by Trump after an intervention by Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. It remains unclear why McMaster was not overruled again.

Cohen-Watnick, who was originally hired by Flynn, is a 31-year-old intelligence operative with the Defense Intelligence Agency. Conservative Review reported that he “sought to reform the intelligence community to rein in the ‘deep state’ of unaccountable bureaucrats with rogue agendas.” Politico reported that Cohen-Watnick and Flynn “saw eye to eye about the failings of the CIA human intelligence operations,” according to an operative who added: “The CIA saw him as a threat, so they tried to unseat him and replace him with an agency loyalist.”

Cohen-Watnick, described as an “Iran hawk,” advocated for the expansion of American efforts against Iran-backed militias in Syria. In June, the New York Times, citing multiple defense and intelligence officials, reported that Cohen-Watnick “wants to use American spies to help oust the Iranian government.” According to the Guardian, he was accused of trying to “take responsibilities for certain covert programs away from the CIA.”

In March, Cohen-Watnick gave Devin Nunes, a Republican congressman who was leading the House of Representative’s Trump-Russia probe, intelligence reports showing the president and associates were surveilled by U.S. intelligence.

A profile by the Atlantic described Cohen-Watnick as a “true professional and most importantly he is incredibly loyal to the president and this administration.”

McMaster reportedly wants to replace Cohen-Watnick with Linda Weissgold, a longtime CIA official. During the Obama administration, Weissgold, who served as director of the CIA’s Office of Terrorism Analysis, was involved in creating a counter narrative about the jihadist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Journalist Michael Warren wrote:

“In her position at OTA, she was also involved directly in drafting the now infamous Benghazi talking points, which government officials revised heavily to include factually incorrect assessments that stated the attackers were prompted by protests. According to the House Select Committee on Benghazi’s report, Weissgold testified she had changed one such talking point to say that extremists in Benghazi with ties to al-Qaeda had been involved in ‘protests’ in the Libyan city, despite the fact that no such protests occurred there on the day of the attack.”

Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Planning

On July 21, McMaster fired Rich Higgins, a former Pentagon official who served in the NSC’s strategic-planning office, after he argued in a memo that President Trump is under sustained attack from people both within and outside the government who are trying to defeat the president’s nationalist agenda.

The Atlanticpublished excerpts of the memo:

“Through the campaign, candidate Trump tapped into a deep vein of concern among many citizens that America is at risk and slipping away. Globalists and Islamists recognize that for their visions to succeed, America, both as an ideal and as a national and political identity, must be destroyed. … Islamists ally with cultural Marxists because, as far back as the 1980s, they properly assessed that the left has a strong chance of reducing Western civilization to its benefit. Having co-opted post-modern narratives as critical points, Islamists will co-opt the movement in its entirety at some future point.”

According to the Atlantic:

“Higgins had also “pushed for declassification of documents having to do with radical Islam and Iran,” according to a source close to the White House. A source close to Higgins said that specifically, Higgins had been pushing for the declassification of Presidential Study Directive 11, a classified report produced in 2010 by the Obama administration which presaged the Arab Spring, outlining unrest throughout the Middle East.”

PSD-11 reportedly remains classified because it reveals the Obama administration’s “embarrassingly naïve and uninformed view of trends in the Middle East and North Africa region.” In June 2014, Gulf News reported that as part of a Freedom of Information lawsuit, the U.S. State Department had released documents about the Obama administration’s dealings with the Muslim Brotherhood:

“The President personally issued Presidential Study Directive 11 (PSD-11) in 2010, ordering an assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood and other ‘political Islamist’ movements, including the ruling AKP in Turkey, ultimately concluding that the United States should shift from its longstanding policy of supporting ‘stability’ in the Middle East and North Africa (that is, support for ‘stable regimes’ even if they were authoritarian), to a policy of backing ‘moderate’ Islamic political movements.”

Before joining the NSC, Higgins had warned:

“National Security officials are prohibited from developing a factual understanding of Islamic threat doctrines, preferring instead to depend upon 5th column Muslim Brotherhood cultural advisors….

“The ‘Islam has nothing to do with terrorism’ narratives have effectively shut down the intelligence process for the war on terror in any meaningful sense. Sure, we CT officers could look at organizations and people and places, some of which had Islamic names, but we could never dig into the political and ideological reasons the enemy was attacking us — which is supposed to be the first order of business in any strategic threat assessment.”

CJR: If you have not watched this interview with Higgins yet, here it is:

Senior Director for Strategic Assessments

On May 1, McMaster fired Adam Lovinger, a seasoned national security official, after his top-secret security clearance was abruptly suspended. Lovinger had been dispatched to the NSC from the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment (ONA) at Flynn’s request.

Lovinger, an expert on South Asia, the Persian Gulf and sub-Saharan Africa, said he was fired for his hardline views on Iran, including his opposition to Obama’s nuclear deal with Tehran.

His clearance was reportedly revoked “as part of a larger, behind-the-scenes effort by anti-Trump officials in the national security bureaucracy to neutralize key Trump aides.”

Lovinger’s attorney, Sean Bigley, said in a statement:

“Mr. Lovinger’s security clearance has now been suspended for a month. Despite repeated requests, to-date (the Department of Defense) has failed to provide us with any factual basis for the absurd accusations made against Mr. Lovinger by known anti-Trump partisans. Mr. Lovinger is entitled to a prompt opportunity to prove these allegations for what they are: overt political retaliation.”

Angelo Codevilla, a former senior official on the Senate Intelligence Committee, noted:

“The Trump administration is letting itself be played by the bureaucracy, which is managing to exercise a veto on who will represent Trump in government.”

Senior Director for Africa: Cyril Sartor

On August 1, McMaster hired Cyril Sartor, a career CIA analyst, to fill the highest Africa position on the NSC. The decision was viewed as a victory for the CIA in its protracted battle with the White House over candidates.

In February, Robin Townley, the first nominee for the post, was denied the high level security clearance required for the job; the denial reportedly was an expression of the CIA’s opposition to him. Townley, a former Marine intelligence officer close to Flynn, was a critic of the current intelligence structure and advocated for reform.

“The CIA did not want to deal with him,” Angelo Codevilla, the intelligence expert, wrote in a column for the Washington Times. “Hence, it used the power to grant security clearances to tell the president to choose someone acceptable to the agency, though not so much to him.” He added:

“If Mr. Trump does not fire forthwith the persons who thus took for themselves the prerogative that the American people had entrusted to him at the ballot box, chances are 100 percent that they will use that prerogative ever more frequently with regard to anyone else whom they regard as standing in the way of their preferred policies, as a threat to their reputation, or simply as partisan opponents.”

In April, McMaster offered the position to Rudolph Atallah, a retired lieutenant colonel who served more than 20 years in the U.S. Air Force. In June, however, Atallah’s job offer was rescinded, ostensibly due to delays in approving his security clearance. McMaster apparently believed that Atallah, a scholar on radical Islam in Africa, was overly-concerned with counterterrorism rather than other issues affecting the continent, including development assistance and human rights.

Sartor, one of the few senior-level African Americans in the intelligence community, has said little in public that offers a fuller picture of his analytical bent. In July 2016, however, he participated in a panel on terrorism at the Aspen Forum, where he claimed that jihadism in Africa is being fueled by socio-economic factors rather than the founding documents of Islam:

“Violent Islamic ideology is a foreign import to sub-Saharan Africa and as such it only thrives where it can co-opt local grievances. I sincerely believe the international community can defeat terrorism in sub-Saharan Africa with a robust mix of long-term development and security assistance.”

Senior Director for Russia and Europe

On March 2, McMaster hired Fiona Hill as the senior director for Russia and Europe, a newly combined directorate that brings both regions under one chain of command. Hill, a Russia scholar at the Brookings Institution, has been a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

During the campaign, Trump made better relations with Russia one of the central pillars of his foreign policy agenda. In a November 2016 interview with the Atlantic, however, Hill predicted that the U.S.-Russia relationship would remain tense: “Trump isn’t exactly the most diplomatic of people, so I imagine he’ll fall out with his new friend Vladimir pretty quickly.”

Personnel is Policy

In January 2001, the Heritage Foundation published a report titled “Personnel Is Policy: Why the New President Must Take Control of the Executive Branch.” The report, addressed to President-Elect George W. Bush, is even relevant for President Trump, a political neophyte:

“To be successful, the new President…must protect his right to select appointees based not only on their managerial prowess but also on their commitment to his policy agenda and their ability to advance, articulate, and defend it….

“It is often said, correctly, that personnel is policy. The nexus between personnel management and policy management is therefore crucial. Good policies cannot be advanced without good, capable, and committed personnel to formulate, implement, aggressively promote, and steadfastly defend them. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald W. Reagan were noteworthy in this respect for making strong and effective Cabinet appointments and solid White House staffing decisions. Reagan, in particular, demonstrated the value of having trusted ‘lieutenants’ in the policy and supporting roles of his Administration….

“The President’s ultimate success will in large part depend on the degree of commitment to his agenda among the people he appoints to ensure its success…. The most important rule of presidential personnel management is to appoint people who are fully committed to the presidential agenda.”

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. Follow him on Facebook and onTwitter.

#Rexit. Is it time for Tillerson to go?

State Department | Flickr

Conservative Review, by Jordan  Shachtel, July 24, 2017:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has failed to accomplish the founding mission of the U.S. Department of State, and his solutions to fix the bureaucratic apparatus will do little or nothing to repair the broken institution. To fix the State Department, its highest-ranking official must reestablish its founding goal of preserving and protecting American interests abroad. But in order to complete that objective successfully, the diplomatic institution needs a leader who can identify what those interests are and how to properly advance them.

It’s not an efficiency problem

The secretary of state wants to remake his department into a fine-tuned machine that gets maximal value out of the government agency. Tillerson has hired two prominent consulting firms to help him restructure the organization. In an interview with The New York Times, Tillerson confided that he believes the State Department is not calibrated to an appropriate level. “It’s largely not a highly disciplined organization, decision-making is fragmented and sometimes people don’t want to take decisions; coordination is difficult through the interagency,” Tillerson said of his department in the interview. While it’s hard to argue against auditing and restructuring a low-functioning State Department, critiques of Foggy Bottom hardly start or end with complaints about the efficiency of the institution. Through the years, the State Department has lost touch with its fundamental mission to advance the interests of the United States. Instead of promoting American values, the department continues as an institution that preaches moral relativism. Instead of advancing American interests, State protects the status quo. Instead of coming up with new approaches to preserve the American mission, State hangs on to old ideas that lack the power to advance our interests.

Morally and intellectually bankrupt

Tillerson has failed to identify the most pressing issue with the State Department: its moral and intellectual bankruptcy.

Today’s State Department seemingly can’t tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys. All too often, its leaders fail to recognize, or understand, what motivates the bad guys to do bad things. They fail to distinguish between our allies and our adversaries. And the department cannot define what is and is not in the interests of the United States.

The State Department under Tillerson seems to engage in diplomacy for the sake of diplomacy. In recent weeks, there seemed to be no particular goal or agenda advanced as a result of the actions taken by top department heads.

Arguably, the most pressing issue of Tillerson’s diplomatic tenure involves the ongoing crisis in the Gulf. America’s Gulf allies are putting extensive pressure on the rogue nation of Qatar to end its terrorist financing. They’ve made demands upon the leaders at Doha — such as asking them to stop dealing with Iran and Turkey and terrorist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda — that align quite well with American interests. Nonetheless, Tillerson has decided to engage in endless rounds of “shuttle diplomacy” without a particular agenda in mind other than to resolve the dispute for the sake of resolving disputes. Tillerson has even gone as far as to demand that our allies back off of their pressure campaign against the terror-friendly Qatar, where the former ExxonMobil CEO has extensive ties.

State has taken a morally absent approach to resolving the most recent Islamic supremacist flare-up against Israel. Last week, an Arab terrorist gunned down two Israeli policemen in the old city of Jerusalem, forcing Israel to take extra security measures and install metal detectors outside the famous Al-Aqsa mosque. Islamic radicals responded by rioting and targeting Israel and its Jewish population, resulting in the brutal killing of a Jewish family and other acts of horrific Islamic violence. Instead of standing by America’s closest Middle East ally, the State Department went to social media and released the vacuous statement: “Violence is not the answer to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

In the debate over whether to recertify the Iran deal, Tillerson was reported as a proponent for recertification. But when top White House officials confronted Tillerson, challenging him and asking why he chose to support recertification, the secretary of state had no answer for his executive branch colleagues.

Replenishing the Swamp

Tillerson has failed to make good on President Trump’s campaign promise to “drain the swamp” of the Washington establishment in his department. The State Department is notorious as a place for fringe leftists who fail to prioritize American interests. Unfortunately, those Obama- and Clinton-friendly staffers remain embedded in the State Department’s highest-ranking positions. State Department holdovers include officials who are publicly mocking the current president on social media, a man who lied to the American people about the “merits” of the Iran deal, and a man described as “the Iran deal czar,” who consistently advocated for a pro-Tehran posture. Shockingly, Tillerson has taskedtwo of the State Department’s biggest Iran deal proponents — Stephen Mull and Chris Backemeyer — with verifying Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal.

And instead of evacuating Foggy Bottom of the ideologue leftists in its ranks, Tillerson went to bat for them, sometimes going to the president personally to protect their positions, according to reports.

An early exit?

Given Tillerson’s failure to reform the State Department into an “America-first” agency that promotes U.S. interests abroad and stands with our allies, it might not come as a surprise that the secretary of state is reportedly pondering an early exit from government service. Sources close to Tillerson are speculating that a “Rexit” may come sooner rather than later.

Tillerson has failed to drain the swamp at Foggy Bottom. But that doesn’t mean that the next man (or woman) up can’t tackle the bureaucratic establishment there. President Trump needs a secretary of state who understands the State Department’s founding vision of ferociously protecting and advancing American interests, morals, and values throughout the world.

Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.

Also see:

Rex Tillerson: Secretary of State Sabotage?

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson takes a photo with the Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, and Bahrain, and the Kuwaiti Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs after a meeting in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, on Thursday, July 13, 2017. (U.S. State Department via AP)

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, July 17, 2017:

Who is ultimately responsible for U.S. foreign policy: the elected president of the United States, or the State Department, the CIA, and the media cartel?

That’s the question that must be asked after the past month. Rex Tillerson and the State Department have repeatedly sabotaged President Trump’s stated foreign policy position related to the ongoing crisis between the Gulf states and Qatar over the latter’s sheltering and funding of terrorist groups operating in the region.

This was seen last week, when Tillerson signed a so-called “anti-terrorism” agreement with Qatar:

But no sooner had Tillerson signed this “anti-terrorism” agreement than did Qatar openly state its support for the terrorist group Hamas:

In the region, this was seen as Qatar deliberately making Tillerson look like a complete fool.

Not only do Tillerson and the State Department’s moves in this crisis support terror-funding Qatar, but they alienate our long-time Arab allies in the Middle East. Tillerson’s meetings in Saudi Arabia — which came after signing his agreement with Qatar — were termed “a disaster”:

Needless to say, the other Gulf states and Egypt did not respond positively to Tillerson’s so-called “anti-terrorism” agreement with Qatar, either:

Meanwhile, President Trump has repeatedly supported the other Gulf countries and Egypt in this dispute. He has called out Qatar for its support of terrorism:

Yet Trump has been repeatedly sabotaged by his own secretary of State and State Department:

Tillerson continued his Middle East tour last week by hinting at closer relations with Turkey, which over the past year has nose-dived into open Ottoman Islamist authoritarianism to the considerable consternation of our Arab allies. Except, of course, Qatar:

One of the primary issues in the crisis over Qatar is their support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which in Egypt is waging an all-out insurgency against the government, and is actively working to destabilize other countries in the region.

At his confirmation hearing, Tillerson classified the Muslim Brotherhood as being in the same league as al-Qaeda:

But as secretary of State, Tillerson has taken an entirely different line, especially during this crisis. For instance, take the comments he made last month — he said the U.S. could not designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization because it is part of the government in some countries:

Well, the Bahraini foreign minister publicly called out the Muslim Brotherhood, which is part of Bahrain’s own government, as a terrorist organization earlier this month:

Trump’s Anti-Cairo Speech

In Warsaw, the president delivered the antithesis to the fallacious, appeasing lecture Obama preached to the Egyptians.

National Review, by Victor Davis Hanson, July 11, 2017:

Obama’s Cairo Address, June 4, 2009

About five months after the inauguration of Barack Obama, the president gave a strange address in Cairo. The speech was apparently designed to win over the Muslim world and set Obama apart from the supposed Western chauvinism of the prior and much caricatured George W. Bush administration.

Obama started off by framing past and present tensions between Muslims and the West largely in the context of explicit and implied Western culpability: past European colonialism, and the moral equivalence of the Cold War and disruptive Westernized globalization.

In a pattern that would become all too familiar in the next seven years, Obama reviewed his own familial Muslim pedigree. This was his attempt to persuade Islam that a president of the United States, no less, now uniquely stood astride the East–West divide with a proverbial foot in both America and the Middle East.

Obama nobly lied that Islam had been “paving the way” for the West’s Renaissance and Enlightenment (neither claim was remotely true). Equally fallacious was Obama’s additional yarn that Muslim Cordoba was a paragon of religious tolerance during the Spanish Inquisition (it had been liberated by the Reconquista Christian forces nearly 250 years before the beginning of the Inquisition, and by 1478 few Muslims were left in the city). The message — its veracity was irrelevant — was that a humble and multicultural Barack Hussein Obama alone had the historical insight and cultural background and authenticity that would allow him to serve as a bridge to peace between two morally equivalent rivals.

Obama then rattled off a series of relativist, on-the-one-hand and on-the-other-hand, split-the-difference remedies to the current tensions with radical Islamism (all couched in vague euphemisms). The proposition was that the West should accept blame, and so should the sometimes culpable Islamic world. Only then would good compromises follow — given the assumption that conflict always arises out of ignorance and misunderstanding rather than that the guiltier side of a dispute knows precisely why it has chosen an aggressive and hostile path.

Seven years later, Obama’s outreach and his successive lengthy recitals of all the bad things America has done in the world and all the good America has done to encourage and placate Muslims (including redirecting NASA to the agenda of Muslim outreach) had come to nothing.

Indeed, the years of Obama’s presidency saw a sharp uptick in jihadist attacks against Europe and the United States, the rise of ISIS in Iraq, the genocide in Syria, and a series of appeasing gestures that spiked tensions, from the false red line in Syria to the bombing of and skedaddle from Libya to the disastrous and deliberate laxity in diplomatic security that culminated in the tragedy in Benghazi. Obama left office having alienated the moderate Sunni Arab nations, appeased an anti-Western Iran, and abdicated American power in the Middle East. Calm did not follow. For Middle Easterners, the Obama era meant that the United States was a lousy friend and a harmless foe, the common denominator being that one could ignore the pretensions of such a naive rhetorician.

A realist might have asked Obama, “If the president of the United States did not believe in the singularity of his nation, then why in the world would foreigners?” And if the nominal head of the West contextualized his culture when abroad, then why wouldn’t its autocratic enemies see that concession as weakness to be exploited rather than magnanimity to be reciprocated?

The Trump Antithesis

Donald Trump’s speech in Poland was an implicit corrective to Barack Obama’s Cairo speech. Whereas Obama had blamed the West for many of Islam’s dilemmas, Trump praised the singular history and culture of the West. (His implicit assumptions might have been that “better than the alternative” was good enough, and American sins are those of humankind, but its remedies are uniquely Western.)

Whereas Obama listed supposed cultural achievements of Islam (most of them of dubious historicity), Trump rattled off examples of Western exceptionalism, its unmatched culture, values, and concrete achievements, all of them persuasive:

We are the fastest and the greatest community. There is nothing like our community of nations. The world has never known anything like our community of nations. We write symphonies. We pursue innovation. We celebrate our ancient heroes, embrace our timeless traditions and customs, and always seek to explore and discover brand-new frontiers. We reward brilliance. We strive for excellence, and cherish inspiring works of art that honor God. We treasure the rule of law and protect the right to free speech and free expression. We empower women as pillars of our society and of our success. We put faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, at the center of our lives. And we debate everything. We challenge everything. We seek to know everything so that we can better know ourselves.

While Obama was in an Islamic country and Trump in a Western one during these respective speeches, the difference in tones transcended location and marked antithetical historic strains of Western culture. Obama believed that the crisis of the West originated in its arrogant, “high horse” historic overreach, and clingerism; this hubris demanded a corrective deference to equally brilliant or indeed superior alternate cultural paradigms.

It never would occur to Obama that immigration (a concrete arbiter of culture) is a one-way pathway for a reason. Muslims seek out Europe and the United States to relocate, not vice versa. Immigrants seek to live among non-Muslims rather than with only Muslims — again, for a reason.

The world outside the West depends on Western-driven technology — again, not the other way around. The top 20 universities in the world are not in the Middle East, Africa, China, or Latin America. Western influence that transcends its population and geography is the logical result of a system that promotes self-criticism and rationalism, free expression, market capitalism, the rule of law, and consensual government rather than gender apartheid, tribalism, autocracy, statism, and religious intolerance.

There is again a reason why there is not a single church in Riyadh but plenty of mosques in the West, and why blasphemy or being gay can get you killed in Iran but not in Dayton, Ohio. Muslims can walk into the Vatican; not so Christians into Mecca.

Trump had his own but quite different worries, namely that the West should rightly be more, not less, confident and assertive: “Our adversaries, however, are doomed because we will never forget who we are. And if we don’t forget who are, we just can’t be beaten. Americans will never forget. The nations of Europe will never forget.”

Trump saw complacence, laxity, and perhaps even decadence as the crisis of the West. In historical terms, Trump’s speechwriters would say that the Greek city-state lost at Chaeronea in a way it had not 142 years earlier at Salamis — because of an insidious enervation of will, and because laxity largely became a dividend of material bounty and license. In Periclean fashion, to avert such decline, each generation must pass on more than what it inherited:

The Warsaw Uprising] heroes remind us that the West was saved with the blood of patriots; that each generation must rise up and play their part in its defense and that every foot of ground, and every last inch of civilization, is worth defending with your life.

Our own fight for the West does not begin on the battlefield — it begins with our minds, our wills, and our souls. Today, the ties that unite our civilization are no less vital, and demand no less defense, than that bare shred of land on which the hope of Poland once totally rested. Our freedom, our civilization, and our survival depend on these bonds of history, culture, and memory. . . .

I declare today for the world to hear that the West will never, ever be broken. Our values will prevail. Our people will thrive. And our civilization will triumph.

From the pessimistic Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle to the glum Roman critics like Petronius, Tacitus, Juvenal, and Suetonius to the German nihilists such as Hegel, Nietzsche, and Spengler, the inherent challenge of the West was rarely the permanent end of freedom and material wealth. Instead, the difficulty has been largely that we have the burden to use properly our bounty and must decide how to handle unchecked personal liberty and comfort.

Capitalism enriches a society but also risks enervating the senses and the spirit by shrinking human aspirations into material acquisitiveness. Consensual government entails responsibilities as well as rights — if it is not to descend into individual excess as citizens forget that they often should not do what they are legally entitled to do. In the Western war between personal liberty and mandated equality, hoi oligoi struggle to convince hoi polloi that they are not the enemies of the people but their co-benefactors, even when many among the former care little for the interests of the many.

Trump is president at a time when only about 63 percent of the American work force is employed. Entitlements are at unprecedented levels and are increasingly divorced from demonstration of undeniable need. Fury breaks out not from cutbacks in largess, but from modest decreases in promised but unsustainable increases.

The law is seen an encroachment on personal expression and thus ignored when it demands sacrifice. Poverty is redefined not so much as material want but as coveting something that someone wealthier does have but otherwise does not need.

Logic is the key to knowledge, but when it poses as the final arbiter of all natural inquiry without deference to the mysteriousness of god, it creates a self-destructive Oedipal arrogance that man can become his own deity. In such a landscape, how does such a civilization of individuals so eager to live the good life defend itself against a wretched jihadist so ready to die in order to welcome a sexual paradise to come?

How does one give up urban metrosexuality and the world of Pajama Boy to change diapers and raise children?

In a world of Facebook and Google, why would a U.S. Ranger be admired for his physical strength and elemental courage? And in a Western world where the government declares it is not just the arbiter of fairness but also the deliverer of equal results, what corner of life is left untouched from the all-powerful and moralistic state?

Byzantium perished not from a dearth of Greek Fire, but from a dearth of people willing to fight from inside its walls against the hundreds of thousands below, each one promised material pleasures in the hereafter for killing Christian Westerners. How is a suburbanite expected to die in a god-awful place like Fallujah, when he is told that computers and lasers make the dirty war of the past obsolete?

The billionaire, thrice-married, and creature-of-luxury Donald Trump, in his 70th year, was warning the West in Poland that precisely because it is very rich, extremely wealthy, singularly leisured, and technologically sophisticated, it faces the most peril — amid failed enemies who hate those who are more successful for encouraging their own taboo desires for something that they cannot create.

In sum, Trump’s anti-Cairo message is that only a disciplined, strong West — confident in its past and sure of its present success — will deter enemies, appeal to neutrals, and keep friends. Trump should not have had a need to deliver such a self-evident but now rare message. That he alone had the courage to state the obvious — and was criticized for doing so — reminds us that the corrective to our Western malady is seen as the problem, not the cure.

Trump nat sec strategy to ‘translate MAGA into foreign policy’

“If you want to be our friend, we will be your friend. If you’re going to mess with us and undermine our interests, you will pay a price.””IF YOU WANT TO BE OUR FRIEND, WE WILL BE YOUR FRIEND. IF YOU’RE GOING TO MESS WITH US AND UNDERMINE OUR INTERESTS, YOU WILL PAY A PRICE.”

Conservative Review, by Jordan Schachtel, July 6, 2017:

President Trump will release a National Security Strategy (NSS) document likely by year’s end, one that will be based on the newly formed concept of “principled realism,” senior Trump administration officials tell Conservative Review.

The NSS serves as a foundation for how the White House will deal with the country’s security interests both at home and abroad.

“The NSS has to translate MAGA into foreign policy,” a senior administration official said, explaining the need to deliver a strategy that is both comprehensive and understandable.

“American national interests drive and dominate all our international actions, but informed by moral content,” the official clarified. “There’s an objective moral content to our foreign policy. And at the same time, it is tempered to not be utopian.”

The official indicated that the launch of 59 Tomahawk missiles against the Syrian regime in April was well within the bounds of principled realism, and a response to actions defined as both a “global threat” and “totally, objectively immoral” behavior by the Assad regime.

“If you want to be our friend, we will be your friend. If you’re going to mess with us and undermine our interests, you will pay a price, whether you’re a hacker, a non-state actor, or whether you’re a guy in North Korea building nuclear-capable missiles.”

A senior administration official familiar with the work of Nadia Schadlow, a national security expert brought on to help draft the National Security Strategy, tells CR that she will attempt to produce an NSS as “iconoclastic as our new commander in chief,” adding, “the era of milquetoast boilerplate is over.”

President Trump first introduced the concept of principled realism delivering the first foreign speech of his presidency in May at the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

“For our part, America is committed to adjusting our strategies to meet evolving threats and new facts. We will discard those strategies that have not worked — and will apply new approaches informed by experience and judgment. We are adopting a Principled Realism, rooted in common values and shared interests,” Trump said in Riyadh.

He elaborated on principled realism a few weeks later, delivering remarks on Cuba while in Miami, Fla.

“On my recent trip overseas, I said the United States is adopting a principled realism, rooted in our values, shared interests, and common sense,” the president said. “[C]ountries should take greater responsibility for creating stability in their own regions. It’s hard to think of a policy that makes less sense than the prior administration’s terrible and misguided deal with the Castro regime.”

From Reagan to Obama, the NSS has, in the past, helped detail what the president seeks to accomplish in foreign policy. The first NSS was provided by the Reagan Administration in 1987 following the passage of the Goldwater-Nichols Act.

Ronald Reagan’s 1988 NSS sought to utilize all instruments of American power to defeat our adversaries and bolster allies. The ‘88 NSS is recognized by some as the last time an American president outlined a grand strategy to protect and enhance American national security interests.

The Bush-era concept of “pre-emptive war,” utilized to justify the invasion of Iraq, was found in the 2002 NSS. The 2002 strategy also called for American initiatives to push for Western-style democracy projects in the Middle East.

Barack Obama’s 2015 NSS was castigated by conservative national security observers as an articulation of an America that should focus on “leading from behind.”

Report: Global Terrorism Has Tripled Since 2011, Now At An All Time High

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, June 1, 2017:

The Institute for Economics and Peace has released their annual “Global Peace Index” for 2017, reporting some shocking findings.

According to the report, global terrorism has nearly tripled since 2011, and terrorism is now at an all-time high.

The Voice of America reports:

Worldwide terrorism is at an all-time high, and violence cost the global economy $14.3 trillion last year, with a $2.5 trillion impact in the United States alone.

These new figures from the latest Global Peace Index, a report on conflict and security, indicate that world peace has been deteriorating for the past decade, largely driven by terrorism and conflicts in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

The study says the decline interrupts long-term improvements the world had been making since the end of World War II.

According to the report, the annual number of terrorism incidents has almost tripled since 2011.

Deaths from terrorism have risen more than 900% since 2007 in the 35 countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Of those members, 23 nations experienced terrorism related deaths over the past year.

Those countries include Denmark, Sweden, France and Turkey.

One eye-popping graphic from the report (p. 36) shows that terrorism deaths in OECD countries has increased 900 percent since 2007.

This is quite a turn-around from this time last year during the presidential campaign when the media was trumpeting major declines in terrorism.

Only a few were willing to acknowledge the growing terrorism problem developing in the West:

As I noted here at PJ Media after the terror attack in Nice last July, attacks in the West were occurring at a rate of one every 84 hours.

After last month’s suicide bombing in Manchester, among other recent attacks, it appears that another “Summer of Terror” may be in the offing.

But wait!? Didn’t we hear from President Obama that Osama bin Laden was dead, and al-Qaeda had been decimated? The Islamic State was the “JV team”?

In fact, we did.

Going back to April 2013, we had senior Obama State Department officials telling us that the “War on Terror” was over, and the primary reason was that Obama’s Arab Spring had unleashed the forces of democracy by encouraging hardcore Islamists, like the Muslim Brotherhood, to take over in several critical countries in the Middle East.

[…]

The so-called Arab Spring and the Syrian War – both openly cheered and supported by the Obama administration – unleashed deadly and destructive forces whose full manifestation are only now being seen.

This new data documents the terrorism that has ripped open the Middle East, southeast Asia and Africa. Now it is literally exploding across Europe.

And it may take more than hugs and hashtags to roll it back.

Read more