by Matthew Continetti • Washington Free Beacon
Almost immediately after the news broke that President Trump intends to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA director Mike Pompeo, media figures speculated that the decision was about Russia. The argument went like this: Tillerson was fired because he had recently criticized the Russian government for its attack using a nerve agent on a former spy living in the United Kingdom. He thereby endangered détente with Russian president Vladimir Putin and so, the critics said, Trump sacked him.
Yet the rumor was exposed as false almost as soon as it was aired. For one thing, Tillerson had been informed that he would be removed days before he made his entirely justified condemnation of Russian behavior. For another, the Trump administration soon came out hard against the assassination attempt. Nikki Haley lambasted Russia at the United Nations. President Trump signed a joint statement with the British prime minister, French president, and German chancellor assigning responsibility to Russia. The Treasury Department announced further sanctions against Russian cyber-warfare.
It was Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beacon who first reported the real story. Tillerson had been engaged in a months-long defense of the Iran nuclear deal that finally reached an impasse when he took Europe’s side in debates over the agreement. Continue reading
Most Americans are worried about our domestic crises. Obama left office after doubling the debt to $20 trillion. Near-zero interest rates over eight years have impoverished an entire generation of seniors — and yet remain key to servicing the costs of such reckless borrowing.
Over the last eight years, GDP never grew at 3 percent annually, the first time we’ve seen such low growth since the Hoover administration. Obamacare spiked health-care premiums and deductibles while restricting access and reducing patient choices. Racial politics are at a nadir and make one nostalgic for the environment before 2009.
Red-blue tensions are at an all-time high, and suddenly there is talk of 1860s-like Confederate nullification of federal laws. It’s now the norm for prominent commentators to call for the murder, forced removal, or resignation of the current president. A New York Times columnist asked the IRS to commit a felony by sending him Trump’s tax returns, and then he boasts by providing his own address. Continue reading
By Aaron David Miller • Wall Street Journal
It’s not clear how much worse things will get for the Obama administration over its $400 million payment to Iran in January, but the cash-for-prisoners scandal may end up being the least of U.S. concerns in all this.
I write that knowing that Congress plans to hold hearings in September. I also know that so close to Election Day, this issue is likely to remain a highly politicized he-said/she-said among Republicans eager to take aim, an administration on the defensive, and a Democratic nominee in an increasingly difficult position because of the optics: a choreographed and sequenced transaction in which cash was delivered after U.S. prisoners were released, regardless of whether you consider it ransom.
Here’s the larger and more potentially damaging perception beyond the general embarrassment: In the Middle East, strength and negotiating acumen are prized; they demonstrate power and credibility. Continue reading
by Jed Babbin • The American Spectator
Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps boats harassed U.S. Navy ships and boats again last week in what has become a commonplace in the Persian Gulf. All of these incidents have happened in international waters. The Iranians claim much of those waters as their own.
In January, the Iranians fired missiles within about fifteen hundred yards of the nuclear carrier USS Harry S. Truman. In that same month, the crews of two U.S. Navy patrol boats were captured and detained by the Iranians, the U.S. crews having failed to fire a shot in their own defense. They were released after the Iranians had made propaganda videos shaming our sailors.
In the latter incident, the commander of the surrendered boats later said he surrendered because he didn’t want to endanger Obama’s efforts to lock in his nuclear weapons deal with Iran. Continue reading
A rise in terrorist attacks is further evidence that the global appeal of ISIS-inspired jihad is not dwindling.
By M.G. Oprea • The Federalist
It seems every couple of days we hear about another ISIS-linked terrorist attack. The global appeal of the radical Islamist group is on the ascendant as it is continually able to inspire young Muslim men to wreak havoc in its name, from Orlando to Istanbul. Rather than a sign of the success of the U.S.-led assault on ISIS’ territorial claims, the growing frequency of terrorist attacks are, in part, a product of our own negligence.
Last Tuesday, three gunmen wearing suicide vests attacked the international terminal at Turkey’s Atatürk airport in Istanbul, killing 45 and injuring more than 200. Although ISIS hasn’t yet claimed responsibility, Turkish officials told the United States the organizer of the attack was a former commander of an Islamic State battalion in Syria.
On Sunday, Iraq suffered its deadliest attack since 2003, when ISIS attacked a busy neighborhood of Baghdad with a truck bomb that caused a massive fire, killing more than 215 people. On Friday, five gunmen killed 22 hostages in an attack on a café in an affluent neighborhood in Dhaka, Bangladesh, for which ISIS claimed responsibility. Continue reading
Our new motto: Strength Through Moral Equivalence
By David Harsanyi • The Federalist
When John Kerry toured the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Museum this week before meeting foreign ministers at the G-7 Summit, Reuters reports that he had witnessed “haunting displays [of] photographs of badly burned victims, the tattered and stained clothes they wore and statues depicting them with flesh melting from their limbs.”
“It is a stunning display. It is a gut-wrenching display,” explained Kerry. “It is a reminder of the depth of the obligation every one of us in public life carries … to create and pursue a world free from nuclear weapons.”
Iran exempted, of course. Continue reading
By Dave Clark and Nicolas Revise • Yahoo
The United States failed to manage its traditional Sunni Arab allies in the region while it reached out to mend ties with their bitter Shiite foes in Tehran.
As a result, experts warn, Washington has suffered a loss of influence at a time when it needs to implement the nuclear accord and work with both Tehran and Riyadh to end the Syrian war.
“I think the administration has had a one-eyed policy on this,” Salman Shaikh, founder and CEO of regional consultancy the Shaikh Group, told AFP. Continue reading
By Eli Lake & Josh Rogin • BloombergView
When the administration presented the agreement to Congress, lawmakers were told that new sanctions on Iran would violate the deal. Now the administration is trying to sidestep a recently passed provision to tighten rules on visas for those who have visited Iran.
Since the accord was struck last summer, the U.S. emphasis on complying with its end of the deal has publicly eclipsed its efforts to pressure Iran. In that time, Iranian authorities have detained two American dual nationals and sentenced a third on what most observers say are trumped up espionage charges. Iran’s military has conducted two missile tests, one of which the U.N. said violated sanctions, and engaged in a new offensive with Russia in Syria to shore up the country’s dictator, Bashar al-Assad. Continue reading
Obama admin promises new laws will not violate nuke deal
by Adam Kredo • Washington Free Beacon
Secretary of State John Kerry is working to reassure Iranian leaders that recent congressional efforts to tighten counter-terrorism measures will not harm Iranian interests, according to a letter sent by Kerry to Iran’s foreign minister.
The assurances come following efforts by Congress to tighten restrictions in the visa waiver program, which they claim has gaping loopholes that may enable suspected terrorists to legally enter the United States with few background checks.
Iranian leaders expressed anger over the move in recent days, prompting senior Obama administration officials to convey their own concerns to lawmakers. Continue reading
The Obama administration cannot be sure of the whereabouts of thousands of foreigners in the U.S. who had their visas revoked over terror concerns and other reasons, a State Department official acknowledged Thursday.
The admission, made at a House oversight hearing examining immigrant vetting in the wake of major terror attacks, drew a sharp rebuke from the committee chairman.
“You don’t have a clue do you?” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told Michele Thoren Bond, assistant secretary for the Bureau of Consular Affairs. Continue reading
by John Nolte • Breitbart
Once again, reality has intruded on President Obama’s divisive, his anti-science talking points. Just hours after the president used the term “widows and orphans” to taunt the GOP over their opposition to flooding America with Syrian refugees ISIS has promised to seed with terrorists, a female suicide bomber in Paris blew herself up as police closed in.
While overseas, no less, and as Democrat senators Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Chris Coons, all signaled a desire to pause the Syrian refuges process, Obama again proved that the only people he sees as America’s real enemies are members of the Republican Party:
“Apparently they are scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America,” Obama said of the GOP. “At first, they were too scared of the press being too tough on them in the debates. Now they are scared of three year old orphans. That doesn’t seem so tough to me.”
Just a few hours later in Paris:
A female terrorist wearing a suicide vest has blown herself up and another jihadi was killed by a grenade during a six-hour siege on a flat where police believe the Paris massacres mastermind and six other ISIS terrorists were hiding.
ISIS is Obama’s legacy.
Paris is Obama’s legacy.
Obama lost a won war in Iraq by abandoning that hard-won country, and ISIS fill the vacuum.
Obama pretended to be using “intelligent patience” as ISIS established and extended its caliphate state into Syria, which included the control and command and training centers that were likely behind the Paris operation.
And now Obama believes that screeching emotional blackmail in the form of suicidal political correctness is his real job.
The DC Media obviously got the White House talking points today, orders that demanded Republicans be accused of “playing into the hands of ISIS’ with their caution over these Syrian refugees.
Such good dogs.
The unemployment rate is down, gas prices and inflation are low, and the president notched some major accomplishments. But Obama remains a polarizing figure, and Americans are feeling insecure.
by George E. Condon Jr. • NationalJournal
By almost all traditional metrics, the White House should be celebrating his 2015 instead of offering the subdued and measured defense seen from President Obama at his end-of-the-year press conference. After all, the usual numbers are good—unemployment rate down, job creation up, inflation low, GDP up, gas prices declining. Only the stock market, which will end the year slightly down, is in negative territory.
To add to a bullish appraisal for the president’s agenda, the year saw him prevail on some of his top priorities—protecting Obamacare, achieving a nuclear deal with Iran, reaching an international climate agreement, and pushing through his rapprochement with Cuba. The president can also point to the lowest “Misery Index”—adding unemployment with inflation—since Harry Truman was president. The current 5.3 Misery Index would normally guarantee high approval. Continue reading
Says he toppled Gaddafi to avert a humanitarian crisis, but failed to do the same in Syria
by Daniel Wiser • Washington Free Beacon
Recent remarks by President Obama highlight his conflicting approach to dictators in the Middle East, critics say, opening him to charges of an inconsistent and contradictory strategy toward regimes and humanitarian crises in the region.
In his final press conference of the year Friday, Obama defended his efforts to topple former Libyan autocrat Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 as part of an international coalition. Gaddafi was “a dictator who was threatening and was in a position to carry out the wholesale slaughter of large numbers of people,” he said. He added that the United States and allied nations worked “to avert a big humanitarian catastrophe that would not have been good for us.”
“Those who now argue, in retrospect, we should have left Gaddafi in there seem to forget that he had already lost legitimacy and control of his country, and we could have—instead of what we have in Libya now, we could have had another Syria in Libya now,” he said. Continue reading
By Eliza Collins • Washington Free Beacon
A boastful recap of the State Department’s accomplishments, written by spokesman John Kirby, includes the bold subheadline of “Bringing Peace, Security to Syria” above a more modest entry talking about U.S. aid for those affected by the country’s turmoil and the U.S. push for a political transition from President Bashar Assad.
While Secretary of State John Kerry has played an integral role in the Syrian peace talks, the country remains embroiled in a nasty civil war and terrorized by the Islamic State.
“The United States and many members of the international community have stepped up to aid the Syrian people during their time of need — the United States has led the world in humanitarian aid contributions since the crisis began in 2011,” Kirby said. Continue reading
In an interview taped Friday and relesased this weekend with NPR’s Steve Inskeep, President Obama says “the approach we are taking” to defeat The Islamic State “is one that is based on the best council, the best advice of our top military, top diplomatic teams.”
“Those who are critics of our administration’s response,” he continued, “in the debates that are taking place between the Republican candidates,” “when you ask them, what would you do instead? They don’t have an answer.” Continue reading