In Diplomacy, Trump Is the Anti-Reagan

another take is that it’s the Plaza Redux, meaning the 1988 real estate debacle in which Trump hastily purchased New York’s Plaza Hotel because it looked like an irresistible trophy, only to be forced to sell it at a loss a few years later as part of a brutal debt restructuring.

.. “Like Reagan, he seems to sense that the nuclear technicalities matter less than the political relationship.”

.. First, Trump isn’t Reagan.

  • Reagan generally acted in concert with allies. Trump brazenly acts against them.
  • Reagan’s negotiation method: “Trust but verify.” Trump’s self-declared method: “My touch, my feel.”
  • Reagan refused to give in to Soviet demands that he abandon the Strategic Defense Initiative. Trump surrendered immediately to Pyongyang’s long-held insistence that the U.S. suspend military exercises with South Korea while getting nothing in return.
  • Reagan’s aim was to topple Communist Party rule in Moscow. Trump’s is to preserve it in Pyongyang.

Second, Kim isn’t Gorbachev.

  • Gorbachev was born into a family that suffered acutely the horrors of Stalinism. Kim was born into a family that starved its own people.
  • Gorbachev rose through the ranks as a technocrat with no background in the regime’s security apparatus. Kim consolidated his rule by murdering his uncle, half brother and various ministers, among other unfortunates.
  • Gorbachev came to office intent on easing political repression at home and defusing tensions with the West. Kim spent his first six years doing precisely the opposite.

We All Live on Campus Now

When elite universities shift their entire worldview away from liberal education as we have long known it toward the imperatives of an identity-based “social justice” movement, the broader culture is in danger of drifting away from liberal democracy as well.

If elites believe that the core truth of our society is a system of interlocking and oppressive power structures based around immutable characteristics like race or sex or sexual orientation, then sooner rather than later, this will be reflected in our culture at large. What matters most of all in these colleges — your membership in a group that is embedded in a hierarchy of oppression — will soon enough be what matters in the society as a whole.

.. The idea of individual merit — as opposed to various forms of unearned “privilege” — is increasingly suspect.

..  Any differences in outcome for various groups must always be a function of “hate,” rather than a function of nature or choice or freedom or individual agency

.. Polarization has made this worse — because on the left, moderation now seems like a surrender to white nationalism, and because on the right, white identity politics has overwhelmed moderate conservatism.

.. Trump plays a critical role. His crude, bigoted version of identity politics seems to require an equal and opposite reaction.

.. there’s a huge temptation to respond in kind.

.. anger is rarely a good frame of mind to pursue the imperatives of reason, let alone to defend the norms of liberal democracy.

..  Liberals welcome dissent because it’s our surest way to avoid error. Cultural Marxists fear dissent because they believe it can do harm to others’ feelings and help sustain existing identity-based power structures.

..  the impulse to intimidate, vilify, ruin, and abuse a writer for her opinions chills open debate.

.. An entirely intended byproduct of this kind of bullying — and Roiphe is just the latest victim — is silence.

.. only a member of a minority group can speak about racism or homophobia, or that only women can discuss sexual harassment.

.. The only reason this should be the case is if we think someone’s identity is more important than the argument they might want to make

..  left-feminists are not just interested in exposing workplace abuse or punishing sex crimes, but in policing even consensual sex for any hint of patriarchy’s omnipresent threat.

..  In the struggle against patriarchy, a distinction between the public and private makes no sense.

.. There’s a reason that totalitarian states will strip prisoners of their clothing. Left-feminists delight in doing this metaphorically to targeted men — effectively exposing them naked to public ridicule and examination because it both traumatizes the object and more importantly sits out there as a warning to others.

.. Besides, if they’re innocent, they’ll be fine!

.. can anyone justify why the POSSIBLE innocence of men is so much more important than the DEFINITE safety and comfort of women?”

..  we now have a “gender editor” at the New York Times, Jessica Bennett

.. Does she understand that the very word intersectional is a function of neo-Marxist critical race theory? Is this now the guiding philosophy of the paper of record?

.. At The Atlantic, the identity obsession even requires exhaustive analyses of the identity of sources quoted in stories. Ed Yong, a science writer, keeps “a personal list of women and people of color who work in the beats that I usually cover,” so he can make sure that he advances diversity even in his quotes.

..  there is no art that isn’t rooted in identity.

.. I don’t doubt the good intentions of the new identity politics — to expand the opportunities for people previously excluded. I favor a politics that never discriminates against someone for immutable characteristics

.. what we have now is far more than the liberal project of integrating minorities. It comes close to an attack on the liberal project itself. Marxism with a patina of liberalism on top is still Marxism — and it’s as hostile to the idea of a free society as white nationalism is.

.. the core concepts of a liberal society —

  • the individual’s uniqueness,
  • the primacy of reason,
  • the protection of due process,
  • an objective truth

— are so besieged, this is one of the reasons.

.. The goal of our culture now is not the emancipation of the individual from the group, but the permanent definition of the individual by the group. We used to call this bigotry. Now we call it being woke. You see: We are all on campus now.

.. prudence that worries about unintended consequences; that values thrift; that tries to insure itself against future risks; that takes the responsibility of government seriously; that worries about extreme rhetoric; that balances the budget; that insists on constantly taking pains to protect inconvenient constitutional norms; that defends existing institutions. I could go on. It all began with Burke’s recoil from the French Revolution.

.. Is there any institution in the West that is currently less conservative than the GOP?

.. No institution that is integral to our liberal democracy is immune from attack. This includes law enforcement (the FBI), the Justice Department, an independent and free press, the prerogatives of the opposition party, and regular order in the Congress.

It is a party that would impeach a State Supreme Court rather than give up its gerrymandered districts.

.. its cult leader never misses an opportunity to deepen racial divides and to inflame the gender wars.

.. Whatever else this record is, it is an open and outright assault on any concept of prudence, responsibility, or moderation. Which is to say it is an assault on conservatism itself.

.. If there is any future for the conservative soul and mind in America, it will have to start with the wholesale destruction of the current Republican Party. I made that case more than a decade ago now.

If This Is America

recall perhaps the words of Hannah Arendt, “The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e. the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e. the standards of thought) no longer exist”

.. you know where militarism and nationalism and disdain for intellectuals and artists, and the cultivation of enemies and scapegoats, and contempt for a free press can lead

.. It must be itself, a certain idea of liberty and democracy and openness, or it is nothing, just a squalid, oversized, greedy place past the zenith of its greatness.

McMaster and the Challenge of Sharia Supremacism

Like his familiar bipartisan Beltway camp, he underestimates the threat.

.. Ms. Rice was in the job because she was simpatico with her boss’s developed worldview; he was not a work-in-progress she was tutoring.

.. That is not how either admirers or detractors on the right view President Trump. He is a transactional actor. Obama was a hard-left ideologue who, in the manner of the breed, pretended to be above and beyond ideology. Trump is an authentic non-ideologue. He goes by instinct, guile, and a degree of self-absorption unusual even inside a Beltway teeming with solipsists.

.. Reluctant Trump backers don’t project; they make the real-world calculation that, in this administration more than any before it, personnel is policy.

You get past your misgivings about Trump because

  • Pence, not Kaine, is one heartbeat away;
  • Gorsuch, not Garland, is on the Supreme Court;
  • Sessions rather than Lynch is at Main Justice;
  • the CIA is run by Pompeo, not Morrell;
  • America’s seat at the U.N. is filled by Nikki Haley, not Anne-Marie Slaughter;
  • the Federalist Society, not the American Constitution Society, is vetting judicial nominees;

and so on.

.. I was as energetic a naysayer on the pact as anyone. That, however, was because I understood that Obama’s objective was to change the facts on the ground so dramatically that no successor could undo the deal.

.. Personally, I would renounce it. I don’t get how the administration can bring itself to reaffirm the deal every 90 days (as the law mandates), since doing so requires saying two things that are not true: Tehran is in compliance, and continuation of the self-defeating arrangement is in our national-security interests.

.. McMaster does not really support the deal — he thinks it’s a lousy commitment we need to hold our nose and honor until we find an advantageous off-ramp.

.. Alas, as I pointed out during and after the campaign, this might be a sign of real resolve; or, in the alternative, Trump might have no idea what he was talking about — it might be another exhibition of his talent to sense the divide between irate Americans and their smug government, and to tell the former what they want to hear.

Islam must be seen either as

  1. a big problem that we have to work around, or
  2. a part of the solution to our security challenge.

I am in the first camp. McMaster seems solidly in the second

.. In the first camp, most of us do not dispute that there are authentically “moderate” interpretations of Islam (non-aggressive is a better descriptor). We recognize, however, that there is a straight-line nexus between Islamic scripture and Muslim aggression and — critically — that this aggression is not only, or even mostly, forcible. That is why “sharia supremacism” is more accurate than “radical Islam,” and by leaps and bounds more accurate than “radical Islamic terrorism.”

“Sharia supremacism” conveys the divine command to implement and spread Islam’s societal framework and legal system. It demonstrates that our quarrel is not with a religion per se but with a totalitarian political ideology with a religious veneer.

McMaster’s familiar bipartisan Beltway camp holds that Islam simply must be good because it is a centuries-old religion that nearly 2 billion people accept. Sure, it has scriptures ill-suited to the modern world, but so does the Bible. Bellicose Muslim scriptures have, in any event, been nullified or “contextualized” to apply only to their seventh-century conditions — just ask anyone at Georgetown . . . even if they don’t seem to have gotten the memo in Riyadh, Tehran, Kabul, Baghdad, the Nile Delta, Peshawar, the Bekaa Valley, Aceh Province, Chechnya, or in swelling precincts of London, Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Malmö, Copenhagen, Rotterdam, Vienna, or pretty much anyplace else in the West where the Muslim population reaches a critical mass (roughly 5 to 10 percent).

.. Terrorists must, therefore, be understood as perverting the “true Islam” — indeed, they are “anti-Islamic.” In fact, they are best seen as “violent extremists” because Islam is no more prone to instigate aggression than any other religion or ideology taken to an extreme (you know, like those violent extremist Quakers). If more Muslims than other religious believers are committing terrorist crimes, we must assume there are economic and political explanations

.. The principal flaw in the second camp’s reasoning is that, by removing Islam as an ideological catalyst of terrorism, it turns terrorists into wanton killers. With the logic and aims of the violence thereby erased, also concealed is the cultural (or even “civilizational”) aggression spurred by the same ideology. This, in turn, diverts attention from the tenets of that ideology, which are virulently anti-constitutional, anti-Western, anti-Semitic, and corrosive of individual liberty, equality, privacy, free speech, freedom of conscience, and non-violent conflict resolution. To accommodate the ideology in the West is to lose the West.

.. On balance, besides their can-do discipline, modern military officers — especially warrior-scholars in the McMaster, Mattis, Petraeus mold — tend to be politically progressive and prudently cautious about the wages of war.

.. accommodations made to Islamists in places where we have no choice but to deal with them are not accommodations that should be made here at home. On our turf, sharia principles contradict our culture — as evidenced by the Islamists’ perdurable resistance to assimilation (see, e.g., Europe’s parallel societies).

.. accommodations made to Islamists in places where we have no choice but to deal with them are not accommodations that should be made here at home. On our turf, sharia principles contradict our culture — as evidenced by the Islamists’ perdurable resistance to assimilation (see, e.g., Europe’s parallel societies).