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Victor Davis Hanson on the collapse abroad and at home.
Things are starting to collapse, abroad and at home. We all sense it, even as we bicker over who caused it and why.
ISIS took Ramadi last week. That city once was a Bastogne to the brave Americans who surged to save it in 2007 and 2008. ISIS, once known at the White House as the “Jayvees,” were certainly “on the run” — right into the middle of that strategically important city.
On a smaller scale, ISIS is doing to the surge cities of Iraq what Hitler did to his neighbors between 1939 and 1941, and what Putin is perhaps doing now on the periphery of Russia. In Ramadi, ISIS will soon do its accustomed thing of beheading and burning alive its captives, seeking some new macabre twist to sustain its Internet video audience. We in the West trample the First Amendment and jail a video maker for posting a supposedly insensitive film about Islam; in contrast, jihadists post snuff movies of burnings and beheadings to global audiences. We argue not about doing anything or saving anybody, but about whether it is inappropriate to call the macabre killers “jihadists.”
When these seventh-century psychopaths tire of warring on people, they turn to attacking stones, seeking to ensure that there is not a vestige left of the Middle East’s once-glorious antiquities. I assume the ancient Sassanid and Roman imperial site at Palmyra will soon be looted and smashed.
What is unique about American foreign policy today is not just that it is rudderless, but how quickly and completely the 70-year postwar order seems to have disintegrated — and how little interest the American people take in the collapse, thanks to the administration’s apparent redeeming message, which translates, “It’s their misfortune and none of our own.” …
… Meanwhile, no one seems to much care that between 2009 and 2017, we will have borrowed 8 trillion more dollars. Yet for all that stimulus, the U.S. economy still has staggering labor non-participation rates, flat GDP growth, and stagnant household income. As long as zero interest rates continue, the rich make lots of money in the stock market, and the debt can grow by $500 billion a year and still be serviced. Financial sobriety is now defined as higher taxes bringing in record revenues to service half-trillion-dollar annual additions to an $18 trillion debt.
The liberal approach to the underclass continues as it has been for the last 50 years: The elites support huge, unquestioned redistributionist entitlements for the inner city as penance for avoiding it. Minorities are left to run their own political affairs without much worry that their supposed benefactors live apartheid lives, protected by the proof of their caring. The public is left with the lie “Hands up, don’t shoot” as a construct that we will call true, because the made-up last-seconds gasps of Michael Brown perhaps should have happened that way. As an elite bookend, we have a Columbia coed toting around a mattress as proof of society’s insensitivity to sexual violence, which in her case both her university and the New York City police agree never occurred. In theory, perhaps it could have and thus all but did.
As far as scandals go, no one much cares any more about the implosion of the Veterans Administration. In the public’s defense, though, how does one keep straight the multitudinous scandals — Lois Lerner and the rogue IRS, the spying on and tapping of Associated Press journalists, the National Security Agency disclosures, Fast and Furious, the serial lying about needless deaths in Benghazi, the shenanigans at the General Services Administration, the collapse of sobriety at the Secret Service, the rebooting of air-traffic controllers’ eligibility to be adjudicated along racial and ethnic lines, and the deletions from Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server, which doubled as her government server. …
… Whatever liberalism is, it is not working. Our country’s policies overseas are falling apart, while at home our society stagnates and turns tribal — with a growing and embittered underclass, a shrinking and angry middle class, and a plutocratic and apartheid elite who, as absolution for their privilege, are desperate to praise in the abstract what they so studiously avoid in the concrete.
Jennifer Rubin posts on the Current Occupant’s dangerous misconceptions about the world.
President Obama remains impervious to world events that do not comport with his singular goal — a deal with Iran, which by virtue of his desperation will bear little resemblance to the “good deal” he promised was possible. In three instances last week, we got a peek into his motives and thinking. It was disturbing, to say the least.
The first revelation concerns the war against the Islamic State. On the heels of the defeats in Ramadi and Palmyra, the president gives no indication he is considering a dramatic course correction in the war against the Islamic State. More horrifying than the losses we have suffered is his determined passivity. …
… The second revealing episode came in a speech at a Washington synagogue. Obama emotionally recalled Israel in the 1960s (when it was far weaker and less prosperous than it is now) before saying something truly extraordinary: “It is precisely because I care so deeply about the state of Israel — it’s precisely because, yes, I have high expectations for Israel the same way I have high expectations for the United States of America — that I feel a responsibility to speak out honestly about what I think will lead to long-term security and to the preservation of a true democracy in the Jewish homeland.” Acknowledging the Palestinians’ refusal to accept Israel he insisted that “it is worthwhile for us to keep up the prospect, the possibility of bridging divides and being just, and looking squarely at what’s possible but also necessary in order for Israel to be the type of nation that it was intended to be in its earliest founding.”
In other words, it is only because he loves you so much, Israel, that he holds you to a different standard than the rest of the world and that he demands Israel meet his own conception of Israeli democracy (“type of nation that it was intended to be in its earliest founding”). The insistence that Israel be treated differently than other nations and that others can define what is good for it is a sly but all too common form of anti-Israel rhetoric. …
David Bernstein picks up these thoughts about Israel and says that the president is “nostalgic for white Israel.” This is a good lesson about the racial divide in Israel between Western Jews and Eastern Jews.
Oh, the irony. Here’s an excerpt from the president’s interview with Jeffrey Goldberg:
“Obama: And I care deeply about preserving that Jewish democracy, because when I think about how I came to know Israel, it was based on images of, you know—
Goldberg: We talked about this once. Kibbutzim, and—
Obama: Kibbutzim, and Moshe Dayan, and Golda Meir, and the sense that not only are we creating a safe Jewish homeland, but also we are remaking the world. We’re repairing it. We are going to do it the right way. We are going to make sure that the lessons we’ve learned from our hardships and our persecutions are applied to how we govern and how we treat others.”
To understand how this sounds to someone sensitive to the history of various historically disfavored groups in Israel, imagine a foreign leader had said “I came to know America based on images of Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman, the American Federation of Labor, the Daughters of the American Revolution…” Each of these individuals and groups had their virtues, but lots of us would think, “Geez, you’re nostalgic for an America dominated by White Protestants, and you aren’t even sensitive enough about the course of American history to recognize it, or assumedly you wouldn’t say it.”
The Israel of kibbutzim (kudos to Obama for using the proper Hebrew plural), Dayan, and Meir, was perhaps a more idealistic, and certainly more socialistic Israel. But it was also an Israel dominated by a secularized, Ashkenazic (European) elite.
Mizrahim (Jews from Arab countries), though more than half the population, were marginalized at every level of society. Discrimination was to a large extent institutionalized; the governing Labor Party was run by socialistic Ashkenazim, and given that state capitalism dominated the Israeli economy one’s political and social connections (protectsia in Hebrew) went a long way toward determining one’s economic prospects.
The kibbutzim in particular were a font of anti-Mizrahi chauvinism; as late as 1985, when I stayed for three weeks on a far-left Hashomer Hatzair kibbutz, the teenage kibbutzniks casually and derogatorily referred to the Moroccan city kids staying on the kibbutz for the Summer as “shechorim” (blacks) (for what it’s worth, the Moroccan kids were much nicer than the kibbutzniks). …
Roger Simon says Jeb Bush owes it to the country to withdraw.
… If Mrs. Clinton were to win the presidency, she would do so under a cloud of distrust unprecedented in any of our lifetimes. She would have no honeymoon period and would not deserve one. And this would be happening at a moment in history when the entire world is on a knife edge because of the rise of radical Islam and ISIS throughout the Middle East, Africa, South East Asia, Latin America and, increasingly, Europe, not to mention having to monitor the controversial nuclear deal with Iran, if and when such a thing is signed.
More than ever, we would need a man or woman in the White House we could trust — yet so many of us wouldn’t. America would be split asunder at the beginning of a Hillary presidency as never before since the Civil War. No other Democratic candidate would create such a rift. If that sounds like an exaggeration, I assure you it is not.
Jeb Bush is eminently positioned to prevent this from happening. He can sacrifice his own presidential ambitions for the good of the country. In the process he would be free to detail his reasons, free to be specific about the lies and evasions surrounding Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, the erased emails and missing server, the Benghazi prevarications, the ill-conceived and disastrous war in Libya, the dizzying corruption of the Clinton Foundation and then the inability to face the truth when confronted by her own myriad dishonesties, the quasi-fascistic silence of her political campaign during which she avoids substantive questions whenever possible.
While Jeb reminds us that the founding of our country was a rebellion against “royal families,” not a blind embracing of them, he can be the one to save us from a rupture that has the potential to destroy our social fabric for years to come. …