Feb 2, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 20 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Otto von Bismarck may never have said what’s often ascribed to him: “There is a special Providence for drunkards, fools, and the United States of America.” But he could have, and it probably sounds even better in German. In any case, one can certainly see, looking back, why the apparently apocryphal quotation became famous. It’s true, after all, that America has seemed providentially fortunate at times. It’s true that we’ve managed to survive some near misses, and to flourish despite a fair amount of folly.
For example: If Franklin Roosevelt had died a year earlier, or if he hadn’t decided to change running mates in 1944, we would have had his woolly-headed, soft-on-communism vice president, Henry Wallace, as commander in chief. Who knows how World War II would then have ended, how many more countries Stalin would then have gobbled up, and even whether we would ultimately have won the Cold War? The whole second half of the century could have unfolded in a very different and far more ominous way.
Now we have an admirer of Henry Wallace as president. In December 2007, Barack Obama, campaigning in Iowa, was informed he was in Wallace’s home county. He responded, “We’ve got some progressives here in Adair. I’m feeling really good now. That’s quite a lineage there. . . . It’s a blessing.”
However blessed those Iowans may have been to live in the proximity of so illustrious a predecessor, having a president in the lineage of Henry Wallace has not been a blessing. We (and the world) are now living with the consequences of our having twice chosen Barack Obama as president.
Consider what President Obama told us in his State of the Union address:
We are fifteen years into this new century. Fifteen years that dawned with terror touching our shores; that unfolded with a new generation fighting two long and costly wars. . . .
But tonight, we turn the page.
Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over. Six years ago, nearly 180,000 American troops served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, fewer than 15,000 remain. . . .
The shadow of crisis has passed.
Really? Is al Qaeda (never mentioned by Obama in the speech) in retreat? Does radical Islam (never mentioned by Obama) look like a weak horse? Has Iran lessened its support (never mentioned by Obama) for terrorism? Have the achievements (never mentioned by Obama) of the American troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan been secured? Do we have a defense budget (never mentioned in the speech) sufficient to secure our interests and shape a safer world?
No. But not to worry. President Obama has decided to “turn the page.” He’s tired of living “in the shadow of crisis.” No doubt it’s tiresome to live in such a shadow. That’s not what President Obama wanted his presidency to be about. So he’s decided we can all move on.
There are still problems, to be sure. Some cartoonists and journalists and Jewish shoppers were recently killed by “violent extremists” in Paris. So the president assures us that “we stand united with people around the world who’ve been targeted by terrorists—from a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris.” And sure enough, many members of Congress, mostly of the president’s party, rose to their feet, waving pencils to show support for free speech and express solidarity with the victims of the Paris attacks.
Who are dead. As are victims of Boko Haram (another group not mentioned in the State of the Union). Somehow hashtag diplomacy—even a #BringBackOurGirls placard held by the first lady—hasn’t convinced Boko Haram that it’s time for them to turn the page on “violent extremism.” Nor is pencil-waving going to deter Islamic terrorists.
Barack Obama will be president for two more years. A lot is riding on that “special Providence.” Two years is a long time to be saddled with a president foolish about the world and drunk on self-regard, turning pages with the conceit that he is writing history for the ages, when he’s actually making up a fairy tale, one that’s unlikely to have a happy ending.
10:51 AM, Dec 19, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Concerned Veterans for America has launched a new video series on the failures of the Obama administration's foreign policy doctrine of "leading from behind." The launch begins with Libya as a case study in what's gone wrong with U.S. foreign relations. Watch the video below:
12:01 PM, Dec 17, 2014 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
Imagine for a moment that you are a Saudi, Emirati, Jordanian, or Israeli. Your main national security worry these days is Iran—Iran’s rise, its nuclear program, its troops fighting in Iraq and Syria, its growing influence from Yemen through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon.
8:44 AM, Nov 28, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
You won't find the British royals in the holy land. Elliott Abrams calls it, "The bizarre story of the refusal of British royals to visit Israel, while they are constantly in the Arab world, continues."
Dec 8, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 13 • By MICHAEL MAKOVSKY and WILLIAM KRISTOL
So the November 24 deadline for reaching a comprehensive agreement with Iran over its nuclear program—itself an extension of an earlier deadline—has come and gone with a whimper, and with another extension. The frenetic, feverish, and foolish pursuit of a deal by the Obama administration, marked by one concession after another to Iran, raised the real possibility that the United States and its international partners would make a historically dangerous mistake that could ensure a nuclear-weapons-capable Iran in short order.
Nov 24, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 11 • By LEE SMITH
It's not clear when (or whether) the Obama White House will conclude a final agreement with Iran over its nuclear program. The extended deadline for the interim deal known as the Joint Plan of Action is set to expire November 24. And the president very much wants a deal that would cement his foreign policy legacy. On the other hand, there are still gaps on key issues, like how many centrifuges Iran gets to keep.
Nov 17, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 10 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
With the Republicans winning control of the Senate last week, The Scrapbook is hopeful that the country might be protected from the Obama administration’s worst foreign policy instincts, especially regarding Iran. At the end of this month, the interim agreement with Tehran over its nuclear program expires, and many are concerned that the White House is likely to settle for a very bad permanent agreement. After all, Obama aides have made it clear that an Iran deal is Obama’s foreign policy priority—as central to his legacy, they say, as the Affordable Care Act.
Nov 10, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 09 • By LEE SMITH
Last week, the Obama White House finally clarified its Middle East policy. It’s détente with Iran and a cold war with Israel.
To the administration, Israel isn’t worth the trouble its prime minister causes. As one anonymous Obama official put it to journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, what good is Benjamin Netanyahu if he won’t make peace with the Palestinians? Bibi doesn’t have the nerve of Begin, Rabin, or Sharon, said the unnamed source. The current leader of this longstanding U.S. ally, he added, is “a chickens—t.”
Let’s stop fattening the wallets of our enemies.Oct 27, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 07 • By CHARLES WOLF JR.
Many of the world’s most serious security threats are enabled—directly or indirectly—by revenues from the high oil prices (about $100 per barrel) prevalent in world markets in recent years. If these prices were reduced substantially (e.g., by 20-30 percent), the liquidity that fuels the threats would probably shrink, as would the threats themselves.
12:00 AM, Oct 11, 2014 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Anyone who doubts that the deployment of the technologies we have come to call fracking constitutes a revolution should consider this. U.S. oil production has soared by 70 percent in the past six years. American refineries have cut in half their imports from the OPEC cartel, setting off a scramble by those countries to find new markets.
The Middle East in chaos Oct 13, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 05 • By REUEL MARC GERECHT
The great medieval historian Ibn Khaldun centered his understanding of history on asabiyya, which is perhaps best translated as esprit de corps mixed with the will to power. In his masterpiece, the Muqaddima, or Prolegomena, the Arab historian saw as the primary locus of asabiyya the tribe—a smaller unit than the ethnic group, and the most powerful military unit in Islamic history until the Mameluks perfected the use of slave soldiers.
3:01 PM, Sep 8, 2014 • By THOMAS DONNELLY
On Wednesday, the eve of the thirteenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, President Obama will speak to the American people about his strategy for dealing with the rise of the Islamic State, the would-be caliphate bestriding Iraq and Syria, the most palpable and present threat to the region since Saddam Hussein invaded Iran and, later, Kuwait.