Trump isn’t a Black Swan; he’s a whole flock of Black Swans
Following his unexpected victory, Trump is quickly becoming America’s most consequential conservative president, making him a one-man flock of Black Swans.
A “Black Swan Event” is one that:
- Comes as a surprise – i.e., a “high-profile, hard-to-predict, and rare event . . . beyond the realm of normal expectations in history, science, finance, [or] technology;
- Has a major effect, and
- Is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact because of psychological biases that blind people, both individually and collectively, to uncertainty and to a rare event’s massive role in historical affairs
A year and a half ago, pundits and pollsters gave Trump virtually no chance of winning the Republican nomination for President. Indeed, over half of America thought it was a joke when Trump entered the GOP primary in 2016. Feel free to raise your hand if you were one of the many.
Our country was in dire straits at that point. Obama, through regulatory overreach, new taxation, and Obamacare, had shackled our economy. Worse, Obama had taken our nation so far past the point of a constitutional crisis that it threatened a de facto end to our American experiment. As the November 2016 election approached, we were (and still very much are), to quote Victor Davis Hanson, in an “existential war for the soul of America.”
That war needed to be fought at multiple levels. Congress needed to have its Art. I Sec. I power restored. Only Congress has the power to pass and amend laws. But during the Obama era, we suddenly had “laws” from the President through executive orders (a constitutional violation so egregious even Saturday Night Live spoofed it); the regulatory bureaucracy, the FCC, the Courts, the DOJ, and even the Sec. of Education.
Our Supreme Court system, with its unelected justices, was poised to sit as a Politburo, subject to the addition of just one more Proggie justice. It badly needed to be reformed in line with Art. III.
Obama had entered into oppressive so-called foreign “treaties” — i.e., the Paris Accord and the Iran Deal — without Article II approval from the Senate. Those Frankenstein’s monsters needed to be revoked.
The list of necessary domestic battles at the end of Obama’s eight years went on and on: The economy had to be unleashed by rolling back the regulatory explosion under Obama. Rule of law and equality of justice for all — Hildabeast included — needed to be reestablished.
None of the above even touches upon Obama’s foreign policy accomplishments (or, more accurately, disasters), which left us with a Middle East in flames, ISIS ascendant, Iran on a glide path towards developing a nuclear arsenal, and North Korea building out its nuclear arsenal. Our new President would have to deal with a far more dangerous world than the one Obama had inherited in 2009.
As the 2016 primaries heated up, sixteen of the seventeen candidates, all of those not named Trump, seemed to be up to the task of righting at least some of the above. Then came the first of Trump’s Black Swan Events: he clinched the Republican nomination. Every aspect of that moment ticked off an item on the Black Swans checklist:
- Unforeseen: You bet’cha. By the end of the primary season, pundits were describing Trump’s victory as a “hostile takeover” and a “coup.”
- Consequential: Yes, because at a critical moment for our country, when we most needed an effective leader to stop the prog juggernaut, we instead got the seemingly least capable man for the job, and probably the only man who could lose the election for Republicans. (Or so I believed at the time. Given how close the election was, and given that probably only Trump could successfully make the case to Reagan Democrats in the mid-West states that he would turn the economy around to their benefit, I question whether any other Republican could have won Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and with them, the 2016 election.)
- Inappropriately rationalized afterwards: Yes, in the extreme, by me and a lot of other NeverTrumpers, but few as unhinged as Bill Kristol. Most NeverTrumpers, however, came back to the Republican fold over the issue of a Supreme Court nomination and Trump’s promise to nominate a constitutional conservative.
Then came the second Black Swan event, when Trump won the Presidency on November 8, 2016. Again, the Black Swans checklist plays out:
- Unforeseen: Virtually no pollster or pundit gave Trump any realistic shot of winning the general election — at least until votes were being tallied across the nation at about 9:30 Eastern Time on election night. Talk about shock and awe. If you need a quick shot of schadenfreude, YouTube has many videos showing pundits making a real quick trip through Kübler-Ross’s first four stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, and depression, with acceptance still not having kicked in).
- Consequential: Yes, because, as Kurt Schlicter has been wont to put it, Trump’s election meant “not Hillary.” The final Progressive offensive on the fabric of our nation that a Hildabeast presidency promised had just suffered a defeat akin to — and as consequential as — Drake’s defeat of the Armada Spain sent across the Channel in 1588 A.D. to overthrow the British government.
- Inappropriately rationalized afterwards? Heh. Lol. ROFLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL. The Proggie left still hasn’t come to terms with the election, believing it to have been the culmination of Trump voters releasing their inner racist (according to the race hustlers), Trump voters releasing their inner misogynist (according to the 3rd wave vagina voters), and Trump’s evil plan, hatched in a urine soaked room in Moscow with Vladimir Putin and hookers, to steal the election by having Russia: (a) release actual DNC staff emails showing that the DNC did in fact rig the primaries to make sure Bernie lost to Hildabeast; and (b) by running what we now know was about $350,000 worth of ads on Twitter and Facebook, most of which did not appear until after the election. Russia’s laughably small outlay managed to steal the election from Hildabeast, who spent $1,200,000,000 on the election. My but those Rooskies are efficient.
And now we come to question of the moment. Was Trump’s first year in office so surprising and consequential as to itself rise to the level of a Black Swan event? This post says “yes”:
- Unforeseen: I and many another NeverTrumpers thought Trump could well be the death of the conservative movement.
- Consequential: Given that Trump is on track to be the most consequential conservative president in our nation’s history, I think that the answer must be a “yes — it was consequential.” As Mark Tapscott put it at Instapundit, Trump may well be “out-gippering the Gipper.” It is astounding that Trump is following through with a vengeance on virtually all of his campaign promises.
- Inappropriately rationalized afterwards? Given the daily inundation of MSM primal screams that Trump is an _________________ (fill in the blank with your favorite pejorative). . . . Well, I’ll leave you to answer that one yourself.
With that as preamble, let’s examine the specifics of Trump’s first year accomplishments:
Since the only reason many a NeverTrumper came home for the election was because of the Supreme Court vacancy, let’s start there. Trump promised to nominate an originalist with fidelity to the Constitution to fill the Supreme Court vacancy resulting from the death of “the most influential conservative jurist since the New Deal,” Antonin Scalia. Within two weeks of taking office, Trump delivered. His nominee, Neil Gorsuch, already promises to be, as the Chicago Tribune opined, the “new Scalia.” Trump equaled the Gipper on this one, Scalia having been appointed to the bench by President Reagan in 1986.
As Bookworm wrote not all that long ago, dayenu: if that was all Trump accomplished, it would have been enough. But what was unforeseen was how much further Trump would go down this path. Trump is filling the lower courts with one solid constitutional conservative jurist after another at a historic rate. As one writer opined the other day in National Review — no bastion of Trump love there — “even the most Trump-skeptical conservative would have to acknowledge [that Trump] has done an excellent job on judges.”
I still continue to believe that court reform — returning the courts to be that “least dangerous branch” of government as envisioned by our Founders — is essential if we are to survive long-term as a Constitutional republic. Article V of the Constitution lists the only two ways by which the people of this nation may amend the Constitution, and neither is by judicial fiat. Yet for the last century, Proggies have been abusing the Courts to fundamentally, unilaterally, and unconstitutionally change our nation.
Court reform is the most difficult of steps, since Article III’s brevity planted the seeds for the Courts’ leftward lean. Our Founders saw no need to place checks and balances on the Supreme Court because they failed to foresee the rise of socialism / Marxism / progressivism and the powers that the court would proclaim for itself. (It’s worth remembering that the American revolution preceded the French Revolution, which was the first socialist revolution, by almost two decades.)
Given the scant help Article III offers, hoping for top-down Court reform is a bridge too far at the moment. But who knows? Put enough Constitutional conservative justices on the Courts and they may accomplish it from within. Barring that, court reform will have to await the administration of President Cruz in 2024.
Economy / Employment / Taxes
Trump was derided for promising on the stump to unleash the economy and achieve sustained 4% growth after years of minimal growth under Obama. Yet here, again, he is delivering. Amazingly enough, even the New York Times, in an article entitled, The Trump Effect, used the first day of 2018 to acknowledge this fact:
A wave of optimism has swept over American business leaders, and it is beginning to translate into the sort of investment in new plants, equipment and factory upgrades that bolsters economic growth, spurs job creation — and may finally raise wages significantly.
While business leaders are eager for the tax cuts that take effect this year, the newfound confidence was initially inspired by the Trump administration’s regulatory pullback, not so much because deregulation is saving companies money but because the administration has instilled a faith in business executives that new regulations are not coming. . . .
. . . [T]here is a perception that years of increased environmental, financial and other regulatory oversight by the Obama administration dampened investment and job creation — and that Mr. Trump’s more hands-off approach has unleashed the “animal spirits” of companies that had hoarded cash after the recession of 2008.
Wow! I never thought I’d see the NYT ever admit any of that.
As I wrote a few days ago here, the economy is booming under Trump. To put this in perspective, the last six quarters under Obama, GDP growth averaged 1.5%. Under Trump, we have already had two back-to-back quarters of over 3% growth and the New York Fed’s 4th quarter estimates are coming in near 4%. Retailers just had their best Christmas season in a decade. Significantly, this retail boom was not driven by high-end purchases, but by middle-class spending.
Unlike Obama’s economy, which was bad for the middle class and particularly hard on minorities, Trump’s booming economy is touching everyone (in a good way, though, not in a Bad Touch Biden way). As Tom Blumer recently pointed out at Bizzy Blog, not only is unemployment down overall, the mix of new jobs being added has been weighted towards full-time employment. Moreover, if ADP is right in its estimates, then the number of jobs being added monthly through 2017 has been approximately 20% higher than under the last year of the Obama economy.
Additionally, in news that has to be particularly galling to Proggie race hustlers, black unemployment is at its lowest level in 17 years (read here to enjoy the race hustlers at The Root try to explain why Trump should get no credit), while Hispanic (white Hispanics and all others, I add for the benefit of NY Times readers) unemployment dropped to its all time lowest levels. As the economic opportunities continue to improve for minorities under Trump, expect to hear the race hustlers become ever more ludicrous as they try to tie all Republican governing to racism . . . just as did one donkey’s ass in the Philly Inquirer the other day, stating that the Republican tax bill was the worst legislation “since the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.”
On a related note, the NLRB recently rolled back one of the Obama era’s grossly overreaching giveaways to the unions. Thus, the NLRB recently voted to restrict, if not effectively end, the unions’ ability to create micro unions in large business concerns after a union had failed or was otherwise unable to convince the business’s entire workforce to unionize.
This expanding economy under Trump was due to a combination of increased confidence among employers, Trump’s massive deregulation (addressed below), and Trump’s promises to end Obamacare and reform the tax code. Those latter two required Congress to act.
Throughout 2017, the Republican Congress appeared feckless, unable get anything accomplished. The Keystone Cops meet the Republican Congresscritters. But staring at 2018 midterm apocalypse, the critters finally got their act together and passed, at the 11th hour, truly meaningful tax reform, the first since Reagan’s tax cuts in 1986.
This tax reform is meaningful because, since the 80’s, progressives have been incrementally increasing taxes on businesses to the point of strangling them. Small business ownership, which Reagan always referred to as the engine of our economy, reached an all-time low under Obama. Bernie Marcus, who founded Home Depot, stated that the anti-business climate under Obama was such that businesses such as his could not be successful if started now. As economist Stephen Moore recently explained:
Back in the 1980s the problem was individual rates, which were as high as 70 percent. Now the bigger problem is business tax rates, which reach as high as 40 percent (including state and local) in the U.S., compared with about 20 to 25 percent in the rest of the world. This has caused capital, businesses, jobs and factories to flee the United States. The new 21 percent tax rate under Trump reverses that anti-America incentive. [Economist Art] Laffer believes the lower corporate tax rate will bring so much new business to the United States that the policy will pay for itself over a decade.
Moreover, the tax bill limits taxes to money earned in the U.S. and its holdings. This approach allows all the money that businesses were holding overseas, , which they had earned from foreign investments, to be brought into the U.S. without double taxation. If you’re looking for evidence that, contrary to our Proggy leaders’ primal screams (see, e.g., Nancy “it’s Armageddon” Pelosi), Moore and Laffer will likely be proven right, you need only look to the horrified international reaction to the tax bill’s passage. Nancy’s screaming aside, foreign businesses and governments know that the bill’s passage means investments and new business will flow into the U.S. America first indeed.
Trump promised to roll back the administrative state generally and Obama era overreach in particular. Here again, he has, delivered with great effectiveness. On only his 11th day in office, Trump signed an executive order “on reducing regulation and controlling regulatory costs.” This proper E.O. (as distinguished from Obama’s faux legislation) required that any new regulation must be offset by rolling back two other regulations. Trump’s appointees to the various regulatory agencies have followed that directive with a vengeance. This from President Trump three weeks ago:
“For the first time in decades, we achieved regulatory savings. Hasn’t happened in many decades. We blew our target out of the water. One of the first actions of my administration was to impose a new two-for-one rule on new federal regulations. We ordered that for every new regulation, two old regulations must be regulated.”
“Instead of eliminating two old regulations for every one new regulation, we have eliminated 22. Twenty-two. That’s a big difference. Those regulations that are in place do the job better than all the other regulations and allow us to build, create jobs and do what we have to do.”
Moreover, Trump’s appointees to head the regulatory agencies have been proactive in cutting back the most onerous and overreaching regulations issued under Obama:
- Trump’s EPA has undone Obama’s redefinition of the Waters of the United States and rescinded the Clean Power Plan, both of which threatened to hamstring the economy.
- Trump’s EPA has ended the Obama EPA’s utterly corrupt practice of “sue and settle” as a means of driving policy.
- Trump’s FCC has overturned its ludicrous overreach to regulate the internet without any authorizing legislation from Congress (the so-called “net neutrality rules”), albeit to more squealing than heard even in Deliverance.
- Trump’s Department of Education has rescinded it’s Title IX guidance, which radical feminists used to wage a war on men in colleges.
- Trump’s Department of the Interior has rescinded it’s 2015 regulation of fracking on federal lands.
- Trump’s HHS has ended its war on the Little Sisters of the Poor by allowing “conscientious objectors to opt out of Obamacare’s contraception and abortion-pill mandate for religious or moral reasons.”
This is all laudable in the extreme. Still, in one way, it is not anywhere near enough. Take, for instance, the Obama HHS mandate, a “regulation” — a law in all but name — requiring every employer to include abortion pills as part of the health insurance offered to employees or be subject to draconian fines. Leaving aside for the moment that the mandate is unconstitutional under any originalist interpretation of the First Amendment, there’s something even more insidiously evil about it: The mandate was a progressive shot directly aimed at the religious in America, to establish Progressive governance as dominant over religious conviction. Congress could never have passed (or at least should never have passed) such a law. (It’s arguable, by the way, that none of the above-described regulations could ever have passed Congress.)
Sure, some of the coastal Proggie Congresscritters would have supported the HHS mandate, but no Democrat facing a ballot box in religious fly-over country, and certainly no conservative, would ever have voted for it. Quite simply, Obama was using the regulatory bureaucracy to get around the single most important part of our Constitution, Article I, Section I, granting only to Congress the power to legislate.
Under Art. I, Section I, no one can impose a law upon you unless your own Congresscritter has voted upon it, and a majority of Congresscritters have agreed upon it. We fought a revolution with Britain over that. I’d prefer to fix this regulatory overreach now than to have to fight a second revolution with the Proggies’s habit of using the regulatory bureaucracies to fundamentally and unconstitutionally alter the fabric of our nation.
While Trump is having incredible success in rolling back the regulatory overreach of Obama, the only thing stopping the next president (calling him “Son of Obama”) from putting similar regulations right back into place without a peep from Congress is having a minimum of five originalists on the Supreme Court.
There is a solution to this anti-democratic threat. Trump needs to lean on Congress to pass the REINS Act, in essence giving Congress the right to examine and vote upon any regulation as if it were a duly introduced bill, and requiring that Congress do so for any regulations that carry a significant price tag, either in the form of money the government spends or economic burdens businesses and individuals must bear.
Our Congresscritters need to be forced to do their jobs. Too often, they are happy to allow regulatory agencies to make the hard decisions so that they do not have to vote on them. And while the House did its part in passing the REINS Act, it is today dying in a Senate Committee. If Trump is to truly leave an imprint on government, he needs to force the Senate’s hand on this, or his legacy will only be as long as Obama’s is turning out to be.
Trump called the “climate change” juggernaut a “Chinese Hoax” and promised to withdraw us from the Paris Accords (addressed separately). And again, Trump has delivered. True, Trump has not yet addressed the scientific fraud at the heart of the climate change movement, which finds expression in the repeated and unjustified altering of climate records and data to create massive global warming out of pixels. But Trump, as discussed above, has rolled back most of the Obama era regulations directed at the canard of climate change mitigation.
We can account for tens of billions of dollars Obama directly spent on climate change, much of it going to fund Proggie crony capitalists and academics willing to shill for climate change. It seems likely, though, that the amount actually spent was much higher because Obama opened up our Defense budget to his scam. He instructed the Department of Defense to make climate change a top priority. That meant climate change was a part of every major DOD procurement decision, giving us such obscenities as jet biofuels — bought, of course, from Proggie startups — that cost exponentially more than standard jet fuel. We do not have an audit of how much money the Obama DOD spent on climate change, as opposed to defense, but I shudder even to contemplate it. At any rate, in a very important move, Trump has dropped climate change from the list of national security priorities for 2018.
Rebuilding the Military
As Reagan did in 1986, Trump promised to rebuild our dangerously weakened military, stretched thin by years of war, budget limitations, and major cuts that Obama made to the military budget. A year ago, Heritage’s annual assessment of our military provided a bleak picture. But Trump and Congress together have started to deliver on the rebuild. The recently passed Defense Authorization Bill for 2018 adds nearly $100 billion to the defense budget, even more than Trump had originally requested.
Hardening Infrastructure to Withstand An EMP Attack
The single greatest threat to our nation has long been that a rogue nation, such as North Korea or Iran, might use a single atomic bomb to devastating effect as an electro-magnetic pulse weapon, exploding the atomic bomb high in the atmosphere over the U.S. Such a weapon would kill most if not all unprotected electronics — and outside of defense systems, that means virtually everything that allows modern society to exist, from running water to lights, phones, and computers. We would be immediately sent back to the Stone Age. Deaths would ultimately be in the tens if not hundreds of millions. Why we have done nothing about this threat for so long is inexplicable and unforgivable.
President Trump has, in his National Security Strategy, prioritized hardening of our grid to withstand an EMP attack or a massive solar flare. I can only say Amen.
For the Proggies, there is no such thing as an illegal immigrant; there are only future Democrat voters. For the rest of us, rule of law and border control matter. Trump’s promise to build a wall is still waiting funding from Congress, but other than that, Trump has been effective indeed. According to DHS, Immigration arrests spiked and illegal border crossings dropped in 2017. Moreover, there’s this from the Migration Policy Institute regarding Trump’s accomplishments in 2017:
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement has boosted arrests of illegals inside the country, compared to at the border, by 37 percent.
- The government has entered into agreements with local authorities to capture and remove illegals under Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
- ICE and Justice have begun punishing and targeting some 300 so-called “sanctuary cities.”
- The deferral of illegals targeted for removal has ended.
- Immigration courts have picked up their pace to reduce a backlog of 650,000 cases. A “no dark courtroom” policy has been put in place to make sure all courts are working.
- Illegal immigrant parents who paid to have their children smuggled across the border are being identified for removal.
- Unaccompanied child migrants reunited with their parents may lose their amnesty designation.
- Recalcitrant countries, those who refuse to accept illegals returned by the U.S., are being sanctioned.
- Refugees have been cut nearly in half to 45,000 from the Obama-era 85,000.
- “Enhanced vetting” has begun targeting refugees and immigrants.
- The president has suspended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
- Entry of immigrants from certain countries granted “Temporary Protected Status” like Haiti has been suspended.
Trump moved on this early in his administration, only to have courts in the 9th Circuit and Maryland decide that they, not the President, should set national policy. This is still working its way through the Courts, though the Supreme Court has stayed any further lower court injunctions until the matters are decided by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court can deliver its own Black Swans, of course, but the injunctions suggest that the Supreme Court will support the Trump administration. The reality is that the Supreme Court will have to inflict so much torture on the Constitution to hold against Trump that it may be a job even greater than Kagan, Sotamayor, and Ginsburg, working in tandem, can accomplish.
The Paris Accords
The Paris Accords, ostensibly formed to address climate change, was the nascent movement of Progressive socialists to build international socialist governance, complete with international taxation, an international climate court, and the world’s permanent access America’s wealth. As I wrote here, nothing could be more insidious.
With Article III approval from the Senate, Obama had signed us up to the Accords and, again without Congressional approval, transferred $1 billion dollars to the UN’s Green Climate Fund. (You’ll be shocked, shocked I say, to learn that the managers of the UN Green Fund redistributed our tax dollars as grants to political cronies, not to small nations allegedly threatened by climate change.) Trump promised to pull us out of this UN obscenity and he delivered. Trump’s willingness to stand up to vociferous condemnation from the world’s — and our own — Proggie socialists in order to pull us out of the Paris Accords deserves all the praise we can muster. In the long run, we haven’t dodged a bullet; we’ve dodged a nuclear bomb.
Yet here again, we have a systemic problem in our governance that Obama created and that Trump has not yet addressed. The fact that Obama acted unilaterally to send our tax dollars to the UN Climate Fund without Congressional funding authorization is at best, on the dark gray side of the gray area of legality. Yet the precedent is there. If the future Son of Obama is to be stopped from doing the same, Congress needs to further define the limits of executive power when it comes to transferring American funds to any non-domestic entity without explicit Congressional authorization.
Syria and ISIS
Together, Syria and ISIS contrast Obama’s Carteresque-Iran weakness and Trump’s Reaganesque-Libya strength. Unlike Obama, Trump has shown that he is willing to authorize the effective use of military force and that he trusts his military to carry out his orders — to pick the targets, to set the rules of engagement, and to pick the munitions (let us not forget the MOAB). There is no “leading from behind” nor micromanagement.
As to Syria, Obama grandly proclaimed a red line on Assad’s use of chemical weapons. When Assad called his bluff by again using chemical weapons, not once but tens of times, Obama went fetal. Trump didn’t. In less than 72 hours after Assad launched a chemical attack on Trump’s watch, Trump authorized an attack that severely damaged the air base Assad used to launch the attack. Trump did so much to the consternation of Russia and our Proggies alike. But do you know what has not happened since? If you guessed that, this time, Assad went fetal on the subject of another chemical attack, pat yourself on the back. You’re right. Also, as an added by-product, by casually ordering the attacking during dessert with the Chinese premier, Trump showed the Chinese that governments toy with him at their peril.
After years of Obama dithering, Trump also dealt decisively with the most significant threat posed by a non-state actor:
President Trump has made quick work of ISIS. The radical-Islamic caliphate once terrorized its subjects within an area the size of Ohio. Some 1,000 ISIS killers, down from 45,000, now control a few hellacious acres of Iraq and Syria. According to U.S. intelligence, 98 percent of ISIS’s former territory has been liberated, more than half under Trump. He unleashed U.S. advisers to make tactical decisions on the ground, rather than endlessly await White House permission to hit specific targets, as Obama demanded. This huge victory keeps Trump’s blunt promise from September 2016: “ISIS must be destroyed.”
It was President Jimmy Carter who, in one of the greatest foreign policy blunders of all time, enabled the birth of Iran’s theocracy. Iran soon became, and remains to this day, America’s implacable enemy, the world’s single greatest sponsor of terrorism, and the single most destabilizing actor in the Middle East.
Carter’s utter failure, however, still pales in comparison to Obama who, thirty-five years on and despite knowing the theocracy’s bloody history, put Iran on a glide path to obtaining a nuclear arsenal with his “Iran Deal.” To make his one-sided deal, Obama willingly broke an international sanctions regime that was finally hurting Iran. Obama either genuinely wanted to empower Iran or entered into this supreme act of appeasement in the idiotic hope that doing so would lead this most evil of regimes to moderate. History teaches that never has, nor ever will, work.
Iran is a work in progress. Trump promised to withdraw us from the Iran deal and not to allow Iran to obtain a nuclear arsenal. Trump has found Iran out of compliance with the Iran deal and refused to certify it, thereby sending to Congress the issue of whether and how to reimpose sanctions. How this plays out, time will tell (and the 2018 mid-terms will affect, as it matters greatly whether the Proggies re-take Congress). Meanwhile, Iran’s countdown to a nuclear arsenal continues apace. The one thing that we can have real hope for is that Trump will not kick this can down the road.
Jerusalem, Israel, and the Palestinians
Just a few years ago, the painful reality was that the Middle East’s oil-producing nations had America and the West by the short hairs. Without their dependence on oil, no western nation would have tolerated either Wahhabism’s spread nor Khomeini’s radicalism. Now, thanks to fracking, that dependence is disappearing fast. Middle East policy, which for the past half century has been predicated on keeping the oil flowing, is primed to change significantly. Still, Proggie hype claimed that, no matter the change in dependence on Arab oil, Trump was a drooling anti-Semite who would wreak havoc on Israel. (This claim, of course, conveniently ignored Obama’s visceral hatred for Israel and Netanyahu, something that played out in petty insults, unfair weapons deals and, at the end, an effort to abandon Israel to Iran’s nuclear bombs and the UN’s genocidal wolves.)
That said, nothing has more defined the tumult of the Middle East than the issues surrounding Israel and, nominally, a fake, dysfunctional, ahistorical “state” called “Palestine.” The Muslims tried from 1948 to 1967 to wipe Israel off the map in conventional wars, only to be defeated at every turn. Since then, they have tried to accomplish the same through negotiations, the UN, and terrorism. Though calling publicly for peace, the goal of Hamas and the PLO, backed by the rest of the Muslim world and funded by Iran and Saudi Arabia, has always been Israel’s destruction (though that too has now changed for Saudi Arabia, as it seems they may be moderating and looking to Israel as an ally against Iran). Peace talks have been nothing but kabuki theater that the PLO and Hamas routinely use to buy time and wealth.
The PLO has always maintained that Israel would have to cede Jerusalem to them as part of any peace treaty. Ridiculous. Enter Trump, who, in a truly bold move, has ordered that the U.S. embassy be moved to Jerusalem. Trump explicitly recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, thus taking it “off the table” for any U.S. sponsored negotiations.
Trump’s bold move also sends a message to the PLO, Hamas, and every Muslim nation in the Middle East that their leverage over the U.S. is gone and that the U.S. will not play the Palestine-Israel games any more. If it was not clear enough, then Trump tweeted the other day:
We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect. They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel. We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more.”
“But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?
This marks a 180 degree turn from Obama’s policies, all of which seemed aimed at punishing Israel or, in Iran’s case, enabling Israel’s mortal enemy. It completely changes the paradigm in the Middle East. Moreover, contrary to many who opined that moving the embassy was a reckless decision that would lead to violence throughout the Middle East, there was almost no reaction in the streets:
Although it may seem counterintuitive, Trump’s devotion to projecting America’s power might actually have a calming effect on the Middle East — particularly with regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Unlike previous administrations, the president’s unwillingness to allow Palestinian threats of violence to deter the US from recognizing “reality” has caused some Palestinians to realize that “not one intifada has made a difference,” as Palestinian activist Abu Akker told The Times.
As President Ronald Reagan once said, the United States should “maintain … peace through our strength” for “weakness only invites aggression.”
NATO is a lesson in the art of the deal. For the past seventy years, Proggies have been able to point to European socialism as success solely because it America underwrote it by paying for Europe’s defense through NATO. Trump, however, claimed on the stump that NATO was obsolete and that the U.S. shouldn’t be picking up the bulk of the tab for European defense.
Listening to European officials stammer over that on November 9, 2016, as they contemplated Trump pulling the US out of NATO, was truly a most enjoyable moment of schadenfreude. And lo and behold, NATO members got the message, agreeing to immediately up their defense spending 4.3%.
North Korea, perhaps the last true Stalinist country in the world, is a can that our Presidents have been kicking down the road since 1994. We now know that North Korea made significant strides during the Obama administration towards developing a nuclear weapon that could be delivered to the Western United States atop a rocket, but that Obama ignored this threat.
Now that Kim Jong Un has been threatening the U.S. with a nuclear attack and conducting repeated nuclear testing, North Korea’s status is an issue that Trump must and has been addressing. Leaving the threat of force clearly on the table, the Trump administration very recently saw to passage of strict new UN sanctions that severely limit oil exports to the country, as well as attacking its few sources of foreign currency. Perhaps the message has been received, as Kim Jung Un contacted South Korea with an offer to open talks. Stay tuned.
What a year it has been. I know of no one who expected Trump to govern with this conservatively or effectively. And there was one other promise Trump made . . .
Yeah . . . not really tired of it yet. Let’s hope 2018 brings another year of Black Swans like 2017 for our nation.