In the dangerous last two years of Obama’s presidency, things could go from bad to worse. His allies are now backing a pro-Sharia populist in Nigeria’s presidential election, with potentially disastrous results.
On Saturday, Nigerians will go to the polls to choose their president. The race pits an incumbent with an imperfect record against a former military dictator who has flirted with Islamism.
As with the recent election in Israel, alumni of Obama are aiding the challenger — and not because he would make the region safer.
The decision Nigerians will make this weekend matters greatly, both for themselves and the West. Nigeria has Africa’s largest economy, with a gross domestic product of about $500 billion. It is a major energy producer and exporter, but also a political and cultural bellwether: the nation of 177 million is divided almost equally between Christians and Muslims.
Nigeria’s problems are serious, ranging from endemic corruption to a spiraling jihadist insurgency. The economy is growing but the unemployment rate exceeds 20 percent. Transparency International, which ranks nations by the absence of corruption, places Nigeria at an undesirable 136th out of 175.
The news that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid will not contest the next election and has decided to ride that lonesome trail into the sunset of lobbying and consulting naturally reminded me of the great man’s finest hour – his stirring defense of the federally subsidized cowboy poetry program. Here’s what I had to say about it in my column of more or less exactly four years ago – March 2011 – oh, and do stay tuned for my own non-federally subsidized efforts at cowboy poetry right at the end:
How mean-spirited are House Republicans? So mean-spirited that they would end federally funded cowboy poetry! On Tuesday, Harry Reid, the Majority Leader, took to the Senate floor to thunder that this town ain’t big enough for both him and the Mean-Spirited Kid (John Boehner).
“Moreover [the children’s] mindset [in the Islamic Madrasa education] is nurtured with a message of hatred towards all non-Muslim communities… Islam is the only true religion, all other religions are false — this is what they are taught from the beginning by the Madrasa teacher. They also chant nonstop the mantra that all nonbelievers (in Islam) are Kafirs and infidels fit to be destroyed by all true Muslims.” — Shudhansu S. Tunga, author of A 20 Million Billion Trillion Dollar Loss: The Story of India’s Downslide Independence.
In such a small land as Bangladesh, roughly the size of the U.S. state of Iowa, there are 15,000 officially registered madrasas, accompanied by 200,000 teachers “teaching” four million “students.” If one adds to it the number of unregistered madrasas, the number is as high as 64,000.
“Bangladesh is appeasing the most insidious and violent strains of Islam… That appeasement of theocratic demands and naked threats must end, now.” — Bob Churchill, Director of Communications, International Humanist and Ethical Union.
Jeb Bush is cleaning up a mess he helped create. It’s a distraction from what he’d rather be doing, which is building an “aura of inevitability” around his soon-to-be presidential campaign. He’s spent the past week distancing himself from the speech that one of his foreign policy advisers, former secretary of State James Baker, delivered to the annual meeting of J Street, the liberal fringe group that pushes tough policies against Israel.
Baker’s speech couldn’t have come at a worse time. The Obama administration is in the midst of a campaign to demonize Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, greeted Netanyahu’s election victory with abuse and threats to abandon Israel to the anti-Semites at the U.N., and is hurtling toward a flawed nuclear agreement with Iran. Having a former high-ranking Republican official tell moldy anecdotes and agree that Israel is responsible for the standstill in the peace process only legitimized J Street and suggested a division in GOP ranks when there isn’t any. The speech risked confirming the suspicions of conservatives and Republicans that Bush isn’t really one of them. Two advisers to national political figures appeared at the J Street conference: White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and James Baker. Surely this White House is company the Bush crew doesn’t want to keep.
Harry Reid is retiring. Whatever happens to his Senate seat in 2016, this is good news for Republicans and it is good news for America. Good riddance, Harry. Good bloody riddance. Today we will hear a lot about Reid’s “service” to the Senate and to the American people. Ha! “Service” indeed. The truth of the matter is that Harry Reid is a stone-cold killer who has damaged Washington considerably, who has elevated his own political preferences above the institution he was elected to protect, and who has made worse the partisan rancor that our self-described enlightened class claims to abhor.
The greatest service he can do America is to go away. From a purely Machiavellian perspective, there is a strong case to be made that Reid has been the most effective federal politician in the United States over the last decade or so. In order to protect the president and to advance his movements’ goals, Reid has been willing to diminish the influence, power, and effectiveness of his own institution; in order to thwart his opponents, he has demonstrated an extraordinary capacity to play dirty — a capacity that sets him apart even from other harsh players such as Chuck Schumer, Ted Cruz, and Dick Durbin; and, in order to satisfy his own need to feel powerful, he has perfected the scorched earth approach that has kept Obama’s presidency on life support since November of 2010 (in my estimation, the Democratic party’s success during the 2013 shutdown was the product of Reid’s obstinacy and resolve, not Obama’s).
From the June 2, 2014, issue of NR Editor’s Note: To mark Harry Reid’s announcement that he plans to retire in 2016, NR is running Kevin D. Williamson’s 2014 cover piece on the Nevada senator.
There are 53 Democrats in the Senate, plus two nominal independents who associate with them, and this clown caucus has chosen, since 2007, to place itself under the malignant leadership of Harry Reid, Washington’s answer to Frankenstein’s monster — stitched together out of the worst bits of Roger Chillingworth, Joe McCarthy, and Droopy — a teacup tyrant who has filled his own pockets to the tune of $10 million while decrying the allegedly baleful influence of the wealthy on politics, a man who has done violence to ethical standards left and right, using campaign funds for personal expenditures and trying to hide payments channeled to his granddaughter, who takes to the Senate floor to make patently false, malicious, and increasingly loopy claims about his political rivals, and who is leading a partisan assault on the Bill of Rights. If America needs a(nother) good reason to hand Democrats their heads come November, then they would do well to study the career of Harry Reid (D., Ritz-Carlton), the Sheriff of Nottingham to Barack Obama’s Prince John.
Harry Reid is in some ways a laughable figure, and one of his few charms is that he is known to make self-deprecating observations about his own unprepossessing nature. His obsession with Koch Industries and the intimations of venality that surround him might be grounds for annoyed eye-rolling if they were not of a piece with his audacious war on the most important of our fundamental constitutional liberties. The cheap histrionics, the gross hypocrisy, the outright lies, misusing campaign funds to tip his staff at the Ritz $3,300 — all of that would be just about bearable, but the shocking fact is that Harry Reid and his Senate Democrats are quietly attempting to repeal the First Amendment. And that elevates Senator Reid’s shenanigans from buffoonery to villainy.
President Obama’s decision to avoid congressional scrutiny of his emerging nuclear deal with Iran led 47 GOP senators to write a letter warning Iran – and the president – that the Senate expects to be consulted. A subsequent bipartisan letter signed by 367 members of the House of Representatives also urged the president to consult Congress. A look at major 20th-century strategic arms accords lends decisive weight to the position taken by Congress.
It is apparent that if President Obama inks a deal with Iran over its nuclear program, it will be in the form of an executive agreement, to escape the inconvenience of submitting it to the Senate as a treaty. Given the two-thirds supermajority treaty consent requirement of Article II of the U.S. Constitution – formal legal ratification occurs only if the president signs – the president’s giveaway deal with Iran, if reached, would face a brick wall in the GOP-controlled Senate.
Islamic State is providing “fresh oxygen” to extremist groups in Muslim-majority Indonesia, says National Police Inspector-General Tito Karnavian. And that is stirring worries that terrorist attacks, which have fallen off in recent years, could make a resurgence if people going to fight with Islamic State, sometimes referred to as ISIS or ISIL, return home with a hardened sense of militancy and sophisticated combat training. Police say 159 Indonesian citizens that they’ve identified have gone abroad to join the terrorist group–but they believe the actual number is far larger.
Security expert Sidney Jones, director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, says some of these people are taking their families. “It is a serious problem, and it’s getting bigger,” she said. What impact could ISIS have on Indonesia, and how is the government working to curb the danger? Here’s the short answer.
White House leaves open the possibility of letting the United Nations set a deadline for a Palestinian state
The U.S. exerted new pressure against Israel by leaving open the possibility of letting the United Nations set a deadline for a Palestinian state, in what would be a departure from using American veto power to protect its close Mideast ally.
The prospect of a U.N. Security Council resolution arose Friday when French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Paris would introduce a measure setting a deadline for a negotiated settlement of the conflict and the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, possibly within two years.
“For Netanyahu to embrace Obama’s policies on Iran and the Palestinian issue would spare him the wrath of the White House, but would distance him from Middle East reality, dooming the Jewish State to destruction.”
Defense, scientific and commercial cooperation between the US and Israel is surging unprecedentedly, in defiance of the unbridgeable gap between the worldviews of President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu.
For example, 250 major US high-tech companies maintain research and development centers in Israel, which has become a major source of cutting-edge innovative technologies, improving US competitiveness, increasing US exports and expanding US employment. In 2014, Israeli startups raised an all-time record of $3.4bn, mostly from US investors. Israel operates hundreds of US military and homeland security systems, providing the US defense industries with critical lessons of operation, maintenance and repairs, which dramatically upgrade the quality of these systems and their global competitiveness, improving US research and development, exports and employment. US-Israel cooperation in the areas of cyber, nano and space technologies is rising sharply. Israel provides the US with intelligence, exceeding the intelligence provided to the US by all NATO countries combined. The formulation of US battle tactics, in general – and urban warfare. in particular – is based largely on Israel’s battle experience. Joint US-Israel air force exercises are conducted regularly. US Army units on their way to Afghanistan are trained by Israeli experts in urban warfare, car bombs, suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).