“A universal peace, it is to be feared, is in the catalogue of events, which will never exist but in the imaginations of visionary philosophers, or in the breasts of benevolent enthusiasts.” —James Madison (1792)
IN TODAY’S EDITION
- Contrasting Trump’s decisive action in Iran with Obama’s malfeasance.
- Reiterating Trump’s real trade strategy and why it matters.
- Biden may lead in the national polls, but Sanders dominates fundraising.
- Daily Features: More Analysis, Columnists, Headlines, Opinion in Brief, Short Cuts, Memes, and Cartoons.
By Mark Alexander
Our military forces carried out another remarkable precision strike in Baghdad, Iraq, on Thursday. Killed in that strike were Gen. Qasem Soleimani, leader of Iran’s elite terrorist Corps-Quds forces, and Soleimani’s Iraqi counterpart, paramilitary commander Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes. For decades, Iran has been the wealthiest and most significant state sponsor of Islamic extremists in the Middle East — and Soleimani has directed that terror in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Lebanon, and Syria.
Boldly, Soleimani traveled to Iraq to oversee the Iran-backed Shiite militia assault on our embassy there, thinking that his forces could overtake it much as his boss, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had done with our Tehran embassy in 1979. Recall then, 52 American diplomats and citizens were taken hostage and held for 444 days — and released immediately after Ronald Reagan took his oath of office on January 20, 1981. Fortunately, Jimmy Carter was no longer president then, but Soleimani was operating as if Barack Obama was still president now — a fatal flaw in his plan.
President Donald Trump responded swiftly and decisively to the embassy attack, sending in rapid-force Marine units and Army air reinforcements to repel the militants. He then ordered the death of those who planned it. To suggest this was a “shot across the bow” of Iran’s regime would be grossly understated. This was not a feckless “line in the sand” threat like Obama issued in Syria.
As OIF veteran and frequent Trump critic David French noted, “This was no Benghazi. … There was no American defeat. The embassy still stands.” That was a reference to Obama’s failure to defend our embassy officials in Libya and the subsequent political coverup ahead of his 2012 election.
As I have noted for years, our operations in the Middle East since the 9/11 attack have been quietly but primarily focused on preventing Iranian-backed terrorists from detonating a fissile weapon in an East Coast urban center.
For context, after George W. Bush launched Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, many U.S. military casualties were the direct result of Iranian-backed militias. The Bush administration made slow but steady progress to contain the Islamic threat in the region, but when Obama entered the diplomatic debate in 2009, all the blood and treasure expended in Iraq became nothing more than political fodder for his regime.
Recall that in 2012, Obama centered his reelection on his “success” in the Middle East, declaring that al-Qa'ida was “on the run” and using that false claim to initiate a politically expedient withdrawal from Iraq. Predictably, a Middle East meltdown followed, which led to the most catastrophic humanitarian crisis in recent history as millions of Syrian refugees fled into the desert.
How did Obama respond to that crisis?
In a feat of Middle East policy malfeasance unmatched in generations, Obama, Hillary Clinton, and her understudy, John Kerry, empowered Iran’s nuclear capacity with a “Nuke Deal” that advanced the threat of an “Islamic Bomb” detonation in the U.S. And they followed that up by lifting sanctions against Iran and flying in $400 million in cash that, arguably, bolstered its terrorist operations.
Fortunately President Trump put an end to that insanity, restoring sanctions against Iran, supporting pro-democracy movements in the region, and, in the last 24 hours, responding to Iranian aggression with force. The message this sent to pro-democracy leaders in Iran can’t be understated.
Of course, much saber-rattling followed, with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif laughably calling the strike an “act of international terrorism” and insisting that Tehran would “exhaust all its political, legal and international capacities … to hold the terrorist and criminal regime of the United States responsible regarding this obvious crime.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi played along, issuing a politically necessary statement condemning the attack as a violation of the terms agreement for maintaining U.S. troops in Iraq. But Abdul-Mahdi clearly understand the Iranian threat to his country and the necessity to abate that threat.
Most assuredly, an escalation of Iranian aggression will follow, but that was inevitable.
Deeply mired in their Trump impeachment mess, the current crop of Democrat Party leaders criticized our military operation as reckless and unconstitutional. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) protested, “Did America just assassinate, without any congressional authorization, the second most powerful person in Iran?” Yes, he declared Soleimani was “assassinated.” As for constitutionality, David French laid those Demo claims to rest in a series of social-media posts.
And a final note: Recall that in October of last year, President Trump was subjected to a barrage of criticism from armchair media experts for his agreement with Turkey regarding the Kurdish lines on the Turks’ southern border in Syria. Amid all the criticism, we noted in “The REAL U.S./Turkey Strategic Endgame — Iran” that “formulating foreign policy and military strategy is akin to a complex multi-dimensional chess match — except the objectives are rarely black and white, and the targets are constantly moving.” We noted further, “Turkey provides the U.S. with strategic airbase access, which will be essential in any regional operations, most notably those against Iran. … In other words, there exists a more pressing but unmentioned objective: containing or eliminating the Iranian nuclear threat.”
If a bully took your lunch money day after day for weeks on end, one of two things would likely happen: You’d continue to acquiesce and keep the peace while hoping that the bully will one day grow tired of victimizing you, or you’d take a stand and say “no more!” while hoping that the prospect of a fight might cause the bully to change his ways. While presidents before him have taken the former approach with China, President Donald Trump is in the arena, fighting to make the communist nation a trustworthy trade partner. Round one of their bout is slated to come to an end later this month.
The punches being thrown in this instance are tariffs, and we’re told that these are crippling blows to American manufacturing. Still, it’s Trump’s willingness to fight that we’ve been interested in. For example, last spring our Mark Alexander made the case that this president has finally addressed three decades’ worth of piracy, noting about our reticence to act, “In exchange for a market that has for years been flooded with cheap Chinese goods, American politicians have empowered Communist China to become the greatest existential threat to our national security.”
As these predicaments often do, this one began with noble intentions: a belief that engaging China and its underdeveloped market would bring it into the modern world, and the exposure to capitalism would encourage the Chinese people to demand reforms or even regime change. Unfortunately, the way it’s worked out is the opposite of those good intentions.
As the Washington Examiner’s Nathaniel Black asserts, “Going into business with murderous, quasi-communist bastards gives them leverage, and they use it. Our trade relations with China have not liberalized that country; they have given the thugs who rule it more tools of repression at home and the means to buy favor and bully critics abroad. After adding up the expensive externalities and the social cost, cheap stuff from China does not look as affordable as it does on the store shelf or the online cart.”
There is also an electoral factor to consider. A best-case scenario for the ChiComs would be a trade war resulting in a weakened American economy that allows one of the Democrats to beat Trump in November. Yet even if Trump wins, the Chinese can just wait him out. At worst, they know he’ll only be in office until 2025, and that his successor is unlikely to adopt the same tough approach.
The unknown factor in all this, however, is just how badly the trade war is affecting China. We know its economy has slowed considerably in recent years, and to an extent the Chinese are victims of their own success, as some industries have left China for even cheaper destinations in southeast Asia. And inasmuch as those nations aren’t pointing missiles at us and would be amenable to bilateral trade deals of their own, this is good news for the U.S.
But it’s going to take more than a few manufacturers leaving China to rectify nearly a half-century of misguided policy. It will hurt in the short run, but the Trump way of drawing a little blood himself from the Chinese bully is arguably the best — and most peaceful — way forward. It’s better to be bloodied in a trade war than a shooting war, and we’ve become dangerously indebted to the Chinese in more ways than one.
Socialist Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders had a big fourth quarter, as his campaign raked in $34.5 million in donations. For all of 2019, Sanders’s haul totaled nearly $100 million. And if the Sanders campaign is to be believed, the average donations was just $18, which equates to a high number of supporters. But our favorite take on Sanders’s fundraising report comes from satire site NPCDaily, which humorously observes, “Old white men have ruined our country so I gave my entire paycheck to the Bernie Sanders campaign.”
So, who are these individuals giving to a candidate whose socialist policy proposals would effectively wreck the national economy while stomping all over Americans’ constitutional rights? Well, among Sanders donors, the profession most frequently listed is “teacher.” Unfortunately, educators do have a long and absurd love affair with the fundamentally flawed and bankrupt system of Marxism.
Meanwhile, former educator Elizabeth Warren has continued to see her popularity slide. She managed only $21 million in fourth quarter donations, a $3.5 million drop from her third-quarter haul.
Pete Buttigieg, the now former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, had a healthy fourth quarter, bringing in $25 million. That’s on top of recent polling showing him leading the field of Democrats in Iowa and running a close second in New Hampshire.
Finally, Joe Biden, the least socialist of the Democrats and the one who continues to lead in national polls, took in a solid $22 million. In short, none of these top candidates is likely to be out anytime soon, especially given the fact that no Democrat state primaries are winner-take-all. The ball will officially get rolling on February 3 with the Democrat caucus in Iowa.
ON OUR WEBSITE TODAY
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- Video: 2019 Showcased Dems’ ‘Out of Touch’ Policies — Their policies have demonstrated how out of touch they are with the American people.
BEST OF RIGHT OPINION
For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.
TOP NEWS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
TERRORIST NEUTRALIZED: Iran vows “harsh” response to U.S. killing of top general, Qassem Soleimani; meanwhile, Americans are implored to leave Iraq “immediately” (Associated Press)
SANITY: Marine Corps authorizes concealed carry on bases following recent shootings (National Review)
CIRCLING THE WAGONS: Media struggle to explain recent wave of anti-Semitic attacks without blaming Jews, Trump (The Washington Free Beacon)
LIMITED VAPING BAN: Trump administration declares ban on mint, fruit-flavored vaping products (The Hill)
GUN-GRAB PROPOSAL: Virginia governor’s call for 18-person gun-ban force comes under fire (Washington Examiner)
STOCKING UP: Guns and ammo “flying off the shelves” in Virginia as Democrats pursue confiscation (The Daily Wire)
REVISIONIST HISTORY: Ralph Northam calls for removing statue of Robert E. Lee from U.S. Capitol (The Daily Wire)
“A RADICALLY UNSETTLED PRECEDENT”: Two hundred members of Congress are urging the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade (The Daily Caller)
MOTHER, DOCTORS DISAGREE: Texas judge rules 11-month-old to be taken off life support against mom’s wishes (The Daily Wire)
“THE LIES … HAVE BEEN FOREVER EXPOSED”: First trans person to obtain legal “non-binary” sex status changes back to birth sex in blow to LGBT movement (PJ Media)
POLICY: Qassem Soleimani’s death a “major operational, psychological victory” for the U.S. (The Heritage Foundation)
POLICY: The surprisingly good news about American family life — for kids (American Enterprise Institute)
HUMOR: Racist Democrats kick another minority out of 2020 presidential primary (Genesius Times)
For more of today’s editors’ choice headlines, visit In Our Sights.
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OPINION IN BRIEF
David Limbaugh: “[Democrats] revile Trump because they can tolerate only one viewpoint — their own. They resent that they can’t cram down their ideas in all sectors of our society, our culture and our government. It’s not enough that they have virtual monolithic control of the messages disseminating from Hollywood, academia and the mainstream media. They want total power everywhere, without any dissent. They are furious that red-state America won’t roll over and surrender its sovereignty to them so they can complete the fundamental transformation of America into a socialistic, authoritarian state, and finish converting its culture into a post-Christian utopia. They are like agitated babies who’ve had their toys taken away and who militantly refuse to take a nap.”
Re: The Left: “Does anyone doubt that if Obama had ordered this attack [on Qassem Soleimani], every Democrat in the country would be hailing it as a bold and brave act of strategic brilliance? These people are snakes. No integrity at all. And the thing is, the reverse isn’t true. If Obama had ordered it, most Republicans wouldn’t be criticizing the attack. They’d celebrate it just like they celebrated bin Laden’s death. Democrats are far more tribal when it comes to this sort of thing.” —Matt Walsh
Non compos mentis: “Iranian behavior is certainly not pristine and not something to be emulated or praised, but we did engage with Iran in the nuclear agreement, and it was working. It was a unilateral decision by President Trump to renounce that agreement, an American agreement, and walk away from it. … Frankly, the Iranians felt they had nothing to lose in the relationship, and consequences flow from that.” —Rep. Gerry Connolly
Missing the forest for the trees, part I: “Soleimani was an enemy of the United States. That’s not a question. The question is this — as reports suggest, did America just assassinate, without any congressional authorization, the second most powerful person in Iran, knowingly setting off a potential massive regional war?” —Sen. Chris Murphy (Trump didn’t need congressional authorization.)
Missing the forest for the trees, part II: “Trump’s dangerous escalation brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars. Trump promised to end endless wars, but this action puts us on the path to another one.” —Sen. Bernie Sanders
Missing the forest for the trees, part III: “Soleimani was a murderer, responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of Americans. But this reckless move escalates the situation with Iran and increases the likelihood of more deaths and new Middle East conflict. Our priority must be to avoid another costly war.” —Sen. Elizabeth Warren
The BIG Lie: “Killing of Qasem Solemani by US military was one of the most reckless irresponsible actions ever directed by a US President.” —Marianne Williamson
Alpha jackass: “Imagine the Iranian government assassinated Mike Pompeo with a drone, at the direction of the president, and called it self defense. That’s exactly what the US did by killing Soleimani — an act of war. The only difference is Iran’s self defense claims would be more legitimate.” —Emma Vigeland of The Young Turks
And last… “The longer I live, the more I understand a cardinal truth about the human condition — evil often leaves virtue with few good options.” —David French
For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.
For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.
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