“Clinton to Paint Trump as a Risk to World Order.”
Thus did page one of Thursday’s New York Times tee up Hillary Clinton’s big San Diego speech on foreign policy.
Inside the Times, the headline was edited to underline the point:
“Clinton to Portray Trump as Risk to the World.”
The Times promoted the speech as “scorching,” a “sweeping and fearsome portrayal of Mr. Trump, one that the Clinton campaign will deliver like a drumbeat to voters in the coming months.”
What is happening here?
If Beltway Republicans think they can stop Trump and turn back the movement behind him, and continue on with today’s policies on trade, immigration and intervention, they will be swept into the same dustbin of history as the Rockefeller Republicans.
America is saying, “Goodbye to all that.”
For Trump is not only a candidate. He is a messenger from Middle America. And the message he is delivering to the establishment is: We want an end to your policies and we want an end to you.
If the elites think they can not only deny Trump the nomination, but turn back this revolution and re-establish themselves in the esteem of the people, they delude themselves.
This is hubris of a high order.
Yet, with the exception of Trump, none of the GOP candidates seems willing to debate, defend or denounce the policies that eviscerated America — and empowered the People’s Republic.
Workers, however, know what our politicians refuse to discuss.
They are being sold out for the benefit of corporate elites who pay off those politicians with the big cash contributions that keep the parties flush.
BEFORE Donald Trump, there was Patrick Buchanan. More than two decades before Mr Trump kicked over the Republican tea table, Mr Buchanan, a former speechwriter and White House aide to Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, launched his own revolt against Republican grandees. He made bids for the Republican presidential nomination in 1992 and 1996, the first of which challenged a sitting president, George H.W. Bush. Like his billionaire successor, Mr Buchanan ran against free trade and called for restrictions on immigration. As early as 1991 he called for a fence on the border with Mexico (talk of a “great, great” wall would have to wait for Mr Trump).
“If you’re in favor of World War III, you have your candidate.”
So said Rand Paul, looking directly at Gov. Chris Christie, who had just responded to a question from CNN’s Wolf Blitzer as to whether he would shoot down a Russian plane that violated his no-fly zone in Syria.
“Not only would I be prepared to do it, I would do it,” blurted Christie: “I would talk to Vladimir Putin … I’d say to him, ‘Listen, Mr. President, there’s a no-fly zone in Syria; you fly in, it applies to you.’
“Yes, we would shoot down the planes of Russian pilots if in fact they were stupid enough to think that this president was the same feckless weakling … we have in the Oval Office … right now.”
Ex-Gov. George Pataki and ex-Sen. Rick Santorum would also impose a no-fly zone and shoot down Russian planes that violated it. Said Gov. John Kasich, “It’s time we punched the Russians in the nose.”
Carly Fiorina would impose a no-fly zone and not even talk to Putin until we’ve conducted “military exercises in the Baltic States” on Russia’s border. Jeb Bush, too, would impose a no-fly zone.
“If the Cold War is over, what’s the point of being an American?” said Rabbit Angstrom, the protagonist of the John Updike novels.
A haunting remark, since, for 40 years, America was largely united on the proposition that our survival depended upon our victory over communism in the Cold War.
We had a cause then. By and large, we stood together through the crises in the first decades of that Cold War — the Berlin blockade, Stalin’s atom bomb and the fall of China to Mao, the Korean War, the Hungarian revolution, the Cuban missile crisis, and on into Vietnam.
“U.S. Poised to Put Heavy Weaponry in East Europe: A Message to Russia,” ran the headline in The New York Times.
“In a significant move to deter possible Russian aggression in Europe, the Pentagon is poised to store battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other heavy weapons for as many as 5,000 American troops in several Baltic and Eastern European countries,” said the Times. The sources cited were “American and allied officials.”
Thousands of U.S. troops safeguard the border of South Korea. U.S. warships patrol the South China Sea to stand witness to the territorial claims of Asian allies against China.
U.S. troops move in and out of the Baltic States to signal our willingness to defend the frontiers of these tiny NATO allies.
Yet nothing that happens on these borders imperils America so much as what is happening on our own bleeding border with Mexico.
Toward the end of the presidency of George H.W. Bush, America stood alone at the top of the world—the sole superpower. After five weeks of “shock and awe” and 100 hours of combat, Saddam’s army had fled Kuwait back up the road to Basra and Bagdad.
Our Cold War adversary was breaking apart into 15 countries. The Berlin Wall had fallen. Germany was reunited. The captive nations of Central and Eastern Europe were breaking free. Bush I had mended fences with Beijing after the 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square. Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin were friends.
Who rises if Assad falls?
That question, which has bedeviled U.S. experts on the Middle East, may need updating to read: Who rises when Assad falls?
For the war is going badly for Bashar Assad, whose family has ruled Syria since Richard Nixon was president.
Assad’s situation seems more imperiled than at any time in this four-year civil-sectarian war that has cost the lives of some 220,000 soldiers, rebels and civilians, and made refugees of millions more.
Last month, ISIS captured Palmyra in central Syria, as it was taking Ramadi in Iraq. A coalition, at the heart of which is the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, seized Idlib province in northern Syria and is moving toward the coast and Latakia.
Half of Syria has been lost to ISIS, the Nusra front, and other jihadist and rebel groups. All of Syria’s border crossings with Iraq have been lost to ISIS. All of the border crossing with Turkey, excluding Kobani, have been lost to ISIS or rebels linked to al-Qaida. Syria’s border with Lebanon is becoming a war zone.
One: Reintroduce 10,000 ground troops and Marines to retake Ramadi and Anbar, and thousands more to retake Mosul and cleanse Iraq of ISIS. Another surge, like 2007.
Yet that does not solve the problem of the Islamic State, which would retreat to Syria and wait for the Americans to leave Iraq again.
Two: Adopt a policy of degrade-and-contain by continuing air strikes on the Islamic State in Iraq, while training and backing the Iraqi army and Kurds in keeping ISIS out of Baghdad and Irbil.
Three: Accept the inevitable — that the Shiite-led Iraq we created by dethroning Saddam and smashing his Baathist state and army is going to be in the orbit of Iran. For we cannot now, without a major and indefinite reintroduction of U.S. forces, alter the existing balance of military and political power in Iraq.
Lest we forget, the “Buchanan wing” also opposed the invasion of Iraq while the Journal-War Party wing howled, “Onto Baghdad!”
“Unpatriotic Conservatives,” we were called in a cover story by a neocon National Review for saying the war was unnecessary and unwise.
Now, a dozen years after the “cakewalk” war, GOP candidates like Marco Rubio and Bush III are trying to figure out what it was all about, Alfie, and what they would have done, had they only known.