WWI: Armistice

The Treaty of Versailles proved a disaster, at once too harsh and too soft. Its terms were far less punitive than those the victorious Allies would dictate to Germany after World War II. Earlier, Germany itself had demanded tougher concessions from a defeated France in 1871 and Russia in 1918.

In the end, the Allies proved unforgiving to a defeated Germany in the abstract, but not tough enough in the concrete.

One ironic result was that the victorious but exhausted Allies announced to the world that they never wished to go to war again. Meanwhile, the defeated and humiliated Germans seemed all too eager to fight again soon to overturn the verdict of 1918.

The consequence was a far bloodier war that followed just two decades later. Eventually, “the war to end all wars” was rebranded “World War I” after World War II engulfed the planet and wiped out some 60 million lives.

.. For an enemy to accept defeat, it must be forced to understand why it lost, suffer the consequences of its aggressions — and only then be shown magnanimity and given help to rebuild.

.. Had the Allies continued their offensives in the fall of 1918 and invaded Germany, the peace that followed might have more closely resembled the unconditional surrender and agreements that ended WWII, leading to far more than just 20 years of subsequent European calm.

Deterrence prevents war.

Germany invaded Belgium in 1914 because it was convinced that Britain would not send enough troops to aid its overwhelmed ally, France. Germany also assumed that isolationist America would not intervene.

Unfortunately, the Allies of 1939 later repeated the errors of 1914, and the result was WWII.

Germany currently dominates Europe, just as it did in 1871, 1914, and 1939. European peace is maintained only when Germany channels its enormous energy and talents into economic, not military, dominance. Yet even today, on matters such as illegal immigration, overdue loans, Brexit, and trade surpluses, Germany tends to agitate its allies.

A Defense of Evangelicals Who Support Trump 

Ross Douthat, a New York Times columnist, wrote: “Whether the subject is the debauched pagan in the White House, the mall-haunted candidacy of Roy Moore or the larger question of how to engage with secular culture, there is talk of an intergenerational crisis within evangelical churches, a widening disillusionment with a Trump-endorsing old guard, a feeling that a crackup must loom ahead.”

Jared Wilson wrote on the Gospel Coalition’s website: “From the same believers who raised us to believe that standing for the truth was more important than anything, that being persecuted for your integrity was better than compromise, that morality was not relative, that ethics are not situational. And now these same teachers are wanting us to believe that a little ‘R’ by a man’s name covers a multitude of sins.”

.. Robert P. Jones wrote in USA Today: “White Evangelicals . . . are, in many ways, a community grieving its losses. . . . Thinking about the white evangelical/Trump alliance as an end-of-life bargain is illuminating. It helps explain, for example, how white evangelical leaders could ignore so many problematic aspects of Trump’s character.”

.. I believe these attacks are not biblical, moral, or wise. Religious Christians and Jews who support Trump understand that the character of a public leader is quite often less important than his policies. This is so obvious that only the naïve think otherwise. Character is no predictor of political leadership on behalf of moral causes. I wish it were. Then, in any political contest, we would simply have to determine who the better person is and vote accordingly.

.. If you are conservative, religious or secular, would you vote for Jimmy Carter over Donald Trump?

.. Do you believe that Hillary Clinton has a finer character than Donald Trump? For the record, I believe his character is superior to hers.

.. Whom should pro-Israel voters support: an anti-Israel activist of fine character or a pro-Israel activist of dubious character?

.. If they were to have cancer, would any of the Evangelicals’ critics choose an oncologist based on character? If not, why not?

.. One of the few moral heroes of the Holocaust was the German industrialist and member of the Nazi party Oskar Schindler. He personally saved more than a thousand Jews’ lives. He was also a serial philanderer. I suspect many leading Nazis never cheated on their wives. Character is a complex issue.

.. Evangelicals realize that the moral good of defeating the Left is of surpassing importance. It can feel good to oppose the president, but religious supporters of the president are more interested in doing good than feeling good. On issue after issue —

  • religious liberty,
  • the unborn,
  • Israel,
  • he American flag, and
  • free speech,

to cite just a few — the president and religious Americans have made common cause.

.. Like Evangelicals, I look to the Bible for moral instruction. I also look for wisdom. And in that book, God chooses, of all people, a prostitute (Rahab) to enable the Israelites to enter the Promised Land. There’s a lesson there.

The Omen of Alabama

Doug Jones’s defeat of Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate special election is yet the latest signal that the accommodators of Donald Trump, those who have normalized and bolstered him, the gutless, schismatic conservatives who abandoned principle to follow a pariah, will have hell to pay in 2018.

Yes, Roy Moore was defeated, but it can never be fully erased from history or memory that he was endorsed by this president and supported by the Republican National Committee. All of Roy Moore’s sins are their sins, and they will wear that scarlet R straight into the midterms.

.. Moore still won the Republican vote and the white vote and, yes, the “white born-again Christian” vote. These people contorted their faith to support a man accused of unthinkable transgressions.

They made a mockery of Christian faith and moral fidelity.

.. they are motivated and insistent that the past will not defeat the future.

.. black voters, particularly black women, have been summoned to save America from its worst impulses and to establish that they are the most loyal and crucial constituency of a Democratic Party that still doesn’t grant them enough respect or deference

.. The Resistance has its own Southern Strategy.

.. It proved that Trump was a fringe candidate who tapped into an American ugliness and rode it to a fluke victory with the help of a foreign adversary.

.. Republicans must brace for the reckoning. If the Resistance can maintain its intensity — and there is no sign of it weakening — the midterms may well amount to a purge.

For Trump, a Moment of Defeat but Maybe Not Recalibration

Behind the scenes, some advisers hoped the loss would persuade Mr. Trump to stop listening to Stephen K. Bannon, his former chief strategist who has vowed war against the Republican establishment. But Mr. Trump talked with Mr. Bannon for 15 minutes by phone on Tuesday, aides said, and seemed disinclined to cut the adviser from his circle.

.. For Mr. Obama, the special election forced a strategic re-evaluation. Some aides advised him to trim his ambitions for health care and seek a narrower bill. But Mr. Obama opted to push for his original, more sweeping legislation. Ultimately, he pushed it through without Republican backing, but it never developed bipartisan support and remains a target of efforts to repeal it.

.. “The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily), is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election,” he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday morning. “I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!”

.. For the rest of the day, Mr. Trump solicited the opinion of almost every adviser he encountered, asking what they thought of his tweet or whether he had made a mistake supporting Mr. Moore

..Mr. Trump is a reactive politician who relies on the sights and sounds of his rallies. With fewer such events these days, he is left more reliant on the reconnaissance of others.

.. Mr. Bannon serves as something of a human shield, absorbing criticism that otherwise might be directed at him

.. Mr. Stepien, who worked for Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and was a figure in the bridge-closing scandal, is well liked by most of the White House employees and seen by some as an unfair straw man for larger problems.

Jeff Flake’s Defiant Surrender

Republican politicians throughout the age of Trump, and again and again they have chosen to die in the dark.

This was true of Trump’s strongest primary-season rivals, who fought him directly and concertedly during exactly one of the umpteen debates and then, finding open war hard going, chose to lose and bow out as though Trump were a normal rival rather than the fundamentally unfit figure they had described just a few short weeks before.

It was true of the party functionaries, the hapless Reince Priebus above all, who denied the residual Republican forces resisting Trump the chance to fight him one last time in the light of the convention floor.

..  It was true of Paul Ryan; it was true even of John McCain.

.. It was not true of everyone. Mitt Romney and John Kasich declined to fall on the sword of party unity; so did George W. Bush and his father; so did some governors and a few junior senators, Mike Lee and Ben Sasse and Jeff Flake.
.. while they refused to make the quietus, to strangle their own convictions in Trump’s ample shadow, they declined many chances to keep up the fight openly as well.
.. The nomination of a figure like Trump, a clear threat to both the professed beliefs of his party’s leaders and to basic competence in presidential government, is the sort of shattering event that in the past would have prompted a real schism or independent candidacy.
.. But Romney couldn’t talk Kasich into being that independent candidate, all the other possibilities demurred
.. Now, almost a year into the Trump presidency, a similar dynamic is playing out. There is a small but significant Republican opposition to Trump, but its leading figures still don’t want to go to war with him directly, preferring philosophical attacks and tactical withdrawal to confrontation and probable defeat.
.. To the extent that there’s a plausible theory behind all of these halfhearted efforts, it’s that resisting Trump too vigorously only strengthens his hold on the party’s base, by vindicating his claim to have all the establishment arrayed against him.
.. In the end, if you want Republican voters to reject Trumpism, you need to give them clear electoral opportunities to do so — even if you expect defeat
.. an anti-Trump movement that gives high-minded speeches but never mounts candidates confirms Trump’s claim to face establishment opposition while also confirming his judgment of the establishment’s guts and stamina — proving that they’re all low-energy, all “liddle” men, all unwilling to fight him man to man.
.. If Corker really means what he keeps saying about the danger posed by Trump’s effective incapacity, he should call openly for impeachment or for 25th Amendment proceedings
.. If Flake really means what he said in his impassioned speech, and he doesn’t want to waste time and energy on a foredoomed Senate primary campaign, then he should choose a different hopeless-seeming cause and primary Trump in 2020. George W. Bush should endorse him. So should McCain, and Corker, and Romney, and Kasich, and Sasse, and the rest of the anti-Trump list.
.. They should expect to lose, and badly, but they should make Trump actually defeat them, instead of just clearing the field for his second nomination.
.. And not only for the sake of their honor. The president’s G.O.P. critics should engage in electoral battle because the act of campaigning, the work of actually trying to persuade voters, is the only way anti-Trump Republicans will come to grips with the legitimate reasons that their ideas had become so unpopular that voters opted for demagoguery instead.
.. A speechifying anti-Trumpism, distant from the fray, will always be self-regarding and self-deceiving — unwilling to see how the Iraq War discredited both the Bushist and McCainian styles of right-wing internationalism, incapable of addressing the economic disappointments that turned voters against Flake’s Goldwaterite libertarianism and Romney’s “trust me, I’m a businessman” promises.
.. Only in actual political competition can the Republican elite reckon with why it lost its party, and how it might win again
.. I think the G.O.P. is more likely to be renewed by someone who currently supports Trump or someone not yet active in politics than it is by the men resisting the president today.

How Steve Bannon just defeated Trump

Former judge Roy Moore’s victory over Sen. Luther Strange was a sign of just how extreme Republican rank-and-filers have become. Moore, who believes biblical law should override the Constitution, beat Strange 55 percent to 45 percent. Contrast that with the 2006 gubernatorial primary in which then-Gov. Bob Riley trounced Moore by a margin of 2-to-1.

.. “What Donald Trump has done,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayres, “is embolden the Roy Moores of the world.”

.. Trump was so embarrassed by his chosen big guy’s big defeat that he deleted earlier pro-Strange tweets

.. Trump seems to think that his support base is so loyal to him that it will follow him anywhere. Bannon would beg to differ. He threw his all behind Moore’s candidacy to show that Trump’s movement is attached even more to a rebellious right-wing ideology than it is to the president himself.

.. “What’s going on is bigger than Trump, and he is just a vehicle.”

.. The good news for Bannon is very bad news for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who put millions of dollars behind the campaign to defeat Moore

.. Among other things, he has said that

  • parts of America are under Muslim sharia law;
  • suggested that the 9/11 attacks happened because the country had forsaken God’s “word and trust”;
  • said of Russian President Vladimir Putin: “Maybe he’s more akin to me than I know”;
  • and likened homosexuality to bestiality.

.. Advocates of a major undertaking on behalf of Jones see this as precisely why taking on Moore would be worth the gamble. Jones could do in Alabama this year what Republican Scott Brown did in a 2010 special election in Massachusetts

.. A Jones win would also cut the Republicans’ already tough-to-manage Senate majority to a bare 51 seats.

.. At an election eve Moore rally, Bannon called out McConnell and Karl Rove, President George W. Bush’s top political adviser, by name.

.. “Your day of reckoning is coming,” Bannon declared.

..  The message from Alabama is clear; he and his party have unleashed forces they cannot control.

‘Trump Is What Happens When a Political Party Abandons Ideas’

As surprising as Trump’s young presidency has been, it’s also the natural outgrowth of 30 years of Republican pandering to the lowest common denominator in American politics.

Republicans took control of Congress in 1994 after nationalizing the election into broad themes and catchphrases. Newt Gingrich, the marshal of these efforts, even released a list of words Republican candidates should use to glorify themselves (common sense, prosperity, empower) and hammer their opponents (liberal, pathetic, traitors); soon, every Republican in Congress spoke the same language, using words carefully run through focus groups by Republican pollster Frank Luntz. Budgets for House committees were cut, bleeding away policy experts, and GOP committee chairs were selected based on loyalty to the party and how much money they could raise.

.. Gone were the days when members were incentivized to speak with nuance, or hone a policy expertise (especially as committee chairs could now serve for only six years).

.. President George W. Bush didn’t realize he was supposed to just be a passive bill-signing machine; he kept insisting that Republicans enact his priorities, which, often, were not very conservative—No Child Left Behind Act, steel tariffs, a tax cut with few supply-side elements. His worst transgression, for me, was the budget-busting Medicare Part D legislation, which massively expanded the welfare state and the national debt, yet was enthusiastically supported by a great many House conservatives, including Congressman Paul Ryan, who had claimed to hold office for the purpose of abolishing entitlement programs.

.. In the 14 years since then, I have watched from the sidelines as Republican policy analysis and research have virtually disappeared altogether, replaced with sound bites and talking points.

.. The Heritage Foundation morphed into Heritage Action for America, ceasing to do any real research and losing all its best policy experts as it transformed from an august center whose focus was the study and development of public policy into one devoted mainly to amplifying political campaign slogans.

.. Talk radio and Fox News, where no idea too complicated for a mind with a sixth-grade education is ever heard, became the tail wagging the conservative dog.

.. Reagan, who granted amnesty to undocumentedimmigrants in 1986

.. no workable concept that adhered to the many promises Republicans had made, like coverage for pre-existing conditions and the assurance that nobody would lose their coverage.

.. their intellectual infrastructure is badly damaged, in need of repair

.. what conservative intellectuals really need for a full-blown revival is a crushing Republican defeat—Goldwater plus Watergate rolled into one. A defeat so massive there can be no doubt about the message it sends that

.. Some conservative thinkers, such as the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin, speculate that Mitt Romney may emerge as the leader of a sane, modern, technocratic wing of an intellectually revitalized GOP