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Mid-Day Digest

Oct. 15, 2019

THE FOUNDATION

“The safety of the people of America against dangers from foreign force depends not only on their forbearing to give just causes of war to other nations, but also on their placing and continuing themselves in such a situation as not to invite hostility or insult; for it need not be observed that there are pretended as well as just causes of war.” —John Jay (1787)

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IN TODAY’S EDITION

IN BRIEF

Middle East ‘Insanity’

“Insanity!” That’s the way one Special Forces soldier who helped train and advise Syrian-based Kurds described President Donald Trump’s policy change in the region. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results — that’s an apt summary of the situation.

George W. Bush was rightly criticized for his premature “Mission Accomplished” banner, and Barack Obama was rightly criticized, to this day, for his politically motivated withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq, giving rise to the Islamic State and creating a massive humanitarian crisis. Now, President Donald Trump is being criticized for his assertion that “we 100% defeated the ISIS caliphate” and withdrawing U.S. advisers from northeastern Syria — in effect, green-lighting a Turkish invasion. We can hope for a better outcome this time around, but, as military planners are fond of saying, “hope is not a viable strategy.”

The absence of a viable strategy has plagued U.S. military employment in the “Endless Wars” for some time. In fact, the wars are seemingly endless precisely because of the lack of an overarching strategic vision. With no clearly defined goal, we muddle along, occasionally stipulating what we won’t do — maintain troop levels past a predetermined date or conduct “combat” operations — rather than what we intend to accomplish. Stream-of-consciousness tweets don’t constitute a strategy, and our unilateral withdrawal from Syria is more likely to exacerbate than solve the problems President Trump cites. For example, we’ve already seen our soldiers threatened by Turkish shelling. Increased involvement from Russia and Turkey, along with Syria’s Bashar al-Assad — none of whom share our interests — threatens to expand both the scope and intensity of the fighting. Detention centers have been left unguarded, allowing hundreds of ISIS leaders and fighters to escape and replenish the terrorists’ ranks, already undermining the “100% defeated” claim.

Our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq started with clear objectives that earned broad bipartisan support in the form of Congressional Authorization(s) on the Use of Military Force (AUMF). Critically, both were also presented to the public in a way that rallied support (at least temporarily) for the policies. While there has been some healthy discussion in military and foreign-policy circles, and a few politicians have attempted to generate interest in a review of the AUMF, our military and political leaders have failed to define and communicate what we should do with these national security challenges and why we should do it. In the absence of a compelling narrative outlining our national interest, cries of “not another American life” and “make the other guys pay their share” resonate, even if it will mean more American lives and dollars in the long run.

This is not the forum to outline a coherent military or national security strategy. The mechanisms are already in place to debate and document those ideas, but they are meaningless if the public is unaware of and our politicians ignore their contents. Congress largely abdicated its role in the process after passing the AUMF. President Bush made the case for the “surge” in Iraq in 2007 at great political risk, but domestic politics have consumed presidential agendas since then. Given the current environment in Washington, that’s unlikely to change in the near term. We will continue to muddle along in this gray area between peace and war until American citizens’ interest and involvement in national security expands beyond thanking service members for their service.

As Thomas Jefferson once said, “An informed citizenry is the true repository of the public will.”

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Barr: America’s Religious Foundation Is Crumbling

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other,” said John Adams in 1798. Some things don’t change, even after 221 years, and Attorney General William Barr quoted Adams to say so in a stellar speech at Notre Dame about American politics and our crumbling moral foundation.

Barr, a devout Catholic, made the case that modern Americans have replaced dependency on God with dependency on government. He also argued that modern secularists are not merely non-religious; they are outright hostile to religion.

“The campaign to destroy the traditional moral order has coincided [with] — and I believe has brought with it — immense suffering and misery,” Barr asserted. “And yet the forces of secularism, ignoring these tragic results, press on with even greater militancy.”

He wondered, “Among the militant secularists are many so-called progressives. But where is the progress?” Worse, he implied regression: “The secular project has itself become a religion, pursued with religious fervor. It is taking on all the trappings of religion, including inquisitions and excommunication. Those who defy the creed risk a figurative burning at the stake — social, educational, and professional ostracism and exclusion waged through lawsuits and savage social-media campaigns.”

In any case, says Barr, the government is a poor substitute for true religion. “Today, in the face of all the increasing pathologies, instead of addressing the underlying cause, we have cast the state in the role of the Alleviator of Bad Consequences,” he said. “We call on the state to mitigate the social costs of personal misconduct and irresponsibility.”

“So, the reaction to growing illegitimacy is not sexual responsibility, but abortion. The reaction to drug addiction is safe injection sites. The solution to the breakdown of the family is for the state to set itself up as an ersatz husband for the single mother and an ersatz father for the children. The call comes for more and more social programs to deal with this wreckage. And while we think we’re solving problems, we are underwriting them. We start with an untrammeled freedom and we end up as dependents of a coercive state on whom we depend.”

Humans were created to worship our Creator. When we refuse to do so, we don’t worship nothing; we worship something else. That explains the contentiousness over who controls the levers of power in Big Government. If it’s not the leftists’ man in power, their very religion has been infiltrated. Hence their crusade to burn the heretics.

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ON OUR WEBSITE TODAY

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.

TOP NEWS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

TURKEY SANCTIONED: According to Reuters, “President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on Turkey on Monday and demanded the NATO ally stop a military incursion in northeast Syria.” At the same time, “The Pentagon on Monday announced the official withdrawal of U.S. forces from northeastern Syria,” The Hill reports.

ABC’S FAKE NEWS: “ABC News aired footage claiming to show a Turkish attack on a Syrian border town that was actually from a 2017 video of an American shooting range,” The Washington Free Beacon reveals. Regardless of anyone’s position on Trump’s Syria policy, engineering a crisis is way beyond the pale.

QUASHING DISSENT: “Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., an ardent supporter of President Trump, got the boot on Monday when he tried to sit in on the testimony of a former top National Security Council expert on Russia who was appearing on Capitol Hill as part of the House impeachment inquiry into the president.” (Fox News)

CNN’S VENDETTA: CNN whistleblower reveals network “vendetta” against Trump, obsession with impeachment (The Federalist)

WHO’D A THUNK IT? Target cuts workers’ hours after vowing to raise minimum wage to $15 by 2020 (National Review)

HELPING THE LITTLE GUY: Blue-collar employment thriving under Trump — hits 50-year high (The New American)

FLYING WOKE: Air Canada to stop announcing “ladies and gentlemen” in recognition of gender fluidity (Washington Examiner)

SWING AND A MISS: Tribal chiefs urge Atlanta Braves to end the “tomahawk chop” (New York Post)

MORE DALLAS-AREA FALLOUT: Ex-Fort Worth police officer charged with murder after shooting black woman in her home; occurred less than two weeks after Amber Guyger’s sentencing (USA Today)

UPRIGHT: William Barr warns of “militant” secularism in speech about declining religious values (Washington Examiner)

POLICY: U.S.-China trade deal: What it is, is not, and may become (Hudson Institute)

POLICY: The painful realities of carbon tax-and-dividend schemes (Washington Examiner)

HUMOR: Elizabeth Warren takes 1/1024th of the day off to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day (Genesius Times)

For more of today’s editors’ choice headlines, visit In Our Sights.

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OPINION IN BRIEF

Stephen Moore: “A study by former Census Bureau researchers and now statisticians at Sentier Research has found gigantic income gains for the middle class under Trump. The median or average-income family has seen a gain of $5,003 since Trump came into office. Median family income is now (August 2019) $65,976, up from about $61,000 when he entered office (January 2017). Under George W. Bush, the household income gains were a little over $400 in eight years, and under Barack Obama the gains were $1,043. That was in eight years for each. Under Trump, in less than three years, the extra income is about three times larger. … The tax cut also added an additional $2,500 to a typical family of four’s after-tax incomes. So after taking account of taxes owed, the income of most middle-class families is up closer to $6,000 in the Trump era. Memo to Pelosi: That ain’t crumbs.”

SHORT CUTS

An unfortunate truth: “Foreign-policy blunders often take months or years to reveal their damaging consequences, but the harm from President Trump’s abrupt withdrawal of U.S. forces from northern Syria is playing out almost in real time. Critics said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would invade northern Syria despite Mr. Trump’s public warnings, and the Turkish strongman did. Critics said our Kurdish allies would strike a deal with Syria’s Bashar Assad to defend themselves, and the Kurds have. Critics said Islamic State prisoners held by the Kurds would be released and scatter to wage jihad again, and they are.” —The Wall Street Journal

Media diagnosis: “All reporters sometimes bend a rule, or go out on a limb or get something wrong. But the important thing is that they usually do this in aid of getting truth to the public. What has defined the media breakdown that started in 2016 was the press’ abandonment of standards in aid of peddling a narrative — rather than reality.” —Kimberley Strassel

Exhibit A: “More than five years after going into business with Hunter Biden, his associates in China are still ‘working on an explanation’ of his role there? If this doesn’t arouse the curiosity of a neutral journalist, it’s hard to imagine what would. But the reaction of much of the American media perhaps tells us how rare such journalists have become.” —James Freeman

For the record I: “The Aztecs would literally rip the beating heart out of your chest, cut you into pieces, eat your limbs, then take your children as slaves. [Christopher] Columbus was playing patty cake compared to them. It was a brutal time. Nobody’s hands were clean.” —Matt Walsh

For the record II: “In fact, mass murder, genocide, slavery, war, conquest, child sacrifice WAS happening in America… before Columbus. At the hands of Native tribes. It could be argued because of the Christian influence Columbus brought to America that those atrocities ended.” —Liz Wheeler

The BIG Lie: “Columbus Day is when we honor a man who killed more innocent ppl in the name of religion than ISIS on their best day.” —actor John Fugelsang

Non compos mentis: “I’ve been a climate scientist for decades and decades.” —Jane Fonda

Village idiot: “Yes, we all do have freedom of speech, but at times there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you’re not thinking about others and only thinking about yourself. I don’t want to get into a word or sentence feud with Daryl Morey [who defended Hong Kong demonstrators], but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand.” —NBA star LeBron James, who later audaciously fretted, “My team and this league just went through a difficult week.” (“Guys, in fairness, all of this China business has made it a little more difficult for LeBron to sell shoes. So I mean consider it from his perspective. He’s really the victim here, when you think about it.” —Matt Walsh)

And last… “If you don’t monitor what’s influencing your kids online, they could end up a part of some fascist organization like the neo-Nazis or the NBA.” —Frank J. Fleming

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