Displaying posts published in

October 2017

New Russian Nuclear Scandal Raises New Questions About Clinton Foundation By Dan McLaughlin —

The Hill this morning broke what could be a very big news story, if anyone is willing to follow up on it. As is often the case with these kinds of stories, it bears watching if the reporting falls apart somehow, but as of yet, it seems there’s almost no pushback out there. You can see why Democrats would not be eager to talk about this one:

Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews….[Federal agents] obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.

This was back during the period when the Obama Administration and Secretary Clinton were touting a “reset” of relations with Russia; it was years before Obama mocked Mitt Romney’s concerns about the Russian threat with his famous “the 80s called” sneer. Yet, it now appears that the Obama Administration knew a lot more than it let on,

leaving the American public and Congress in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil during a period when the Obama administration made two major decisions benefiting Putin’s commercial nuclear ambitions.

The first decision occurred in October 2010, when the State Department and government agencies on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States unanimously approved the partial sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to the Russian nuclear giant Rosatom, giving Moscow control of more than 20 percent of America’s uranium supply…In 2011, the administration gave approval for Rosatom’s Tenex subsidiary to sell commercial uranium to U.S. nuclear power plants in a partnership with the United States Enrichment Corp. Before then, Tenex had been limited to selling U.S. nuclear power plants reprocessed uranium recovered from dismantled Soviet nuclear weapons under the 1990s Megatons to Megawatts peace program.

“The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns. And none of that evidence got aired before the Obama administration made those decisions,” a person who worked on the case told The Hill, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by U.S. or Russian officials.

At a minimum, as Noah Rothman notes, the involvement of key members of the current Trump-Russia probe in conducting this investigation will play right into Trump’s hands in his campaign to discredit the investigation, and Democrats thus far seem likely to just circle the wagons against any further inquiry for that reason as well as how this reflects on the Clintons, Eric Holder, and the Obama Administration’s Russia policy. But the national security implications run deeper than that, and as Ed Morrissey observes, Congress ought to dig in further to see what else it wasn’t told:

House Intelligence chair Mike Rogers claimed to the Hill that no one ever mentioned the case at all to him, despite already-extant concerns over the Uranium One deal on Capitol Hill.

Kaepernick’s Collusion Claim Is a Likely Loser He’s not good enough to require collusion against him. By Andrew C. McCarthy

If you’re going to do Muhammad Ali–type activism, you’d better have Muhammad Ali–type talent. That is the ultimate lesson of the Colin Kaepernick saga.

The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, who has been without a team this season, announced this week that he will file a grievance against the NFL. Collusion, he claims, can be the only explanation for his unemployment: the league and its owners, fueled by President Trump’s “partisan political provocation,” have schemed to blackball him in violation of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the NFL and the players’ union.

Kaepernick appears to be within his CBA rights to file the grievance, and to do so personally — i.e., to challenge the league and its owners on his own, rather than through the NFL Players Association. But unless some of the owners and league officials have said or written idiotic things in meetings, emails, text messages, and the like, the collusion suit should be a loser. There is no need to collude against a player who is not an obvious net-plus (in terms of performance and popularity) for any particular team.

To take the easy part first, Kaepernick’s invocation of Trump is just an atmospheric. The player had been out of the league for months before the president recently began inveighing against the form of protest Kaepernick initiated — “taking a knee” during the pregame playing of the national anthem. No player has been cut or suspended in the wake of the presidential outbursts, which markedly increased the number of players protesting. Trump has crystallized the public anger over the protest as only his bully pulpit can, but he has had no impact on the status of Kaepernick or any other player.

So let’s talk Colin Kaepernick.

To be clear, as a lifelong football fan (who continues to love the game, however soured I am over the infusion of leftist activism in what used to be an oasis from politics), I can attest: Kaepernick is certainly good enough to make an NFL roster — or at least he was when last seen on the gridiron. His problem is that he is not a great player. Indeed, he is now a mediocre player. Mediocre players cannot afford to have his kind of baggage.

I happen to have been in the stands to see Kaepernick’s first pro touchdown, scored against my New York Jets (a streak of lightning captured in this YouTube clip, a minute and a half in). He was a dynamic but flawed talent when he burst on the NFL scene as the 49ers’ second-round pick out of the University of Nevada in 2011: a breathtaking runner with a strong arm, though not a particularly accurate one. In his rookie year, he was used sparingly (almost exclusively in running situations) by coach Jim Harbaugh. But the Niners were an excellent team (they got to but lost the NFC championship game in Kaepernick’s first season), and Harbaugh — a former pro QB — ran a system maximally suited to Kaepernick’s strengths.

Kaepernick got his break when the starter, Alex Smith, got injured in 2012. He made the most of it, getting the 49ers to the Super Bowl, where they lost to the Baltimore Ravens despite his capable performance. The next year, as the undisputed starter, Kaepernick led the Niners to the conference championship game again, but they lost to the Seattle Seahawks, no small thanks to two killer interceptions Kaepernick threw in crunch time.

Still, he had had an impressive run of success. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the high-water mark of his career. Kaepernick was rewarded with a big contract. As with many big NFL contracts, the dollar amount, $126 million over six years, sounds impressive. Only $13 million was guaranteed, though. In such deals, if the player fails to perform up to standard, he runs a high risk of being cut. The high per annum pay counts against the team’s salary cap if the team decides to keep the player at the contract rate. (That’s why football players can be pressured to accept salary cuts, something that never happens in, say, Major League Baseball, where the money is guaranteed throughout multi-year contract terms.)

Alas, 2014 was a stormy year: Kaepernick struggled and the team finished 8–8, missing the playoffs for the first time in many years. Harbaugh had a falling out with Niners brass, ultimately moving on to the University of Michigan, his alma mater (and Jay Nordlinger’s!). The 49ers have been a mess ever since.

The next year, 2015, was a disaster for Kaepernick, who played poorly, was benched, and eventually missed most of the second half of the season with a shoulder injury that required surgery. The Niners collapsed, finishing 5–11, and the new coach was fired.

The 2016 season, during which Kaepernick began his kneeling protest, was even worse: Kaepernick was a second-stringer on a team that finished an NFL-worst 2–14. Signs of a lost season were in the air before it even started: Kaepernick expressed an interest in being traded after the 49ers hired Chip Kelly. This is consistent with Kaepernick’s activism: On Kelly’s prior team, the Philadelphia Eagles, LaSean McCoy, a star African-American player who had been traded, slanderously claimed Kelly had gotten rid of “all the good black players” on the Eagles. By mid-season, Kaepernick had reworked his contract, with the 49ers allowing him to opt out and become a free agent. Meanwhile, the season went so badly that the Niners fired Kelly.

The Deadly Cost of Mutual Misunderstanding Hitler went to war without an accurate conception of the Allies’ strength. The Allies did the same without an accurate conception of Hitler’s ambition. Unprecedented bloodshed ensued. By Victor Davis Hanson

Editor’s Note: The following is the third in a series of excerpts adapted from Victor Davis Hanson’s new book The Second World Wars. It appears here with permission.

Over 2,400 years ago, the historian Thucydides had emphasized the military advantages of sea powers, particularly their ability to control commerce and move troops. Not much had changed since antiquity, as the oceans likewise mattered a great deal to the six major belligerents in World War II. Three great powers were invaded during the war: Germany, Italy, and Russia. Three were not: America, Britain, and Japan. All the former were on the European landmass, the latter were either islands or distant and bounded by two vast oceans. Amphibious operations originating on the high seas were a far more difficult matter than crossing borders, or in the case of Italy, crossing from Sicily onto the mainland. The protection afforded Great Britain and the United States by surrounding seas meant that containing the German threat was never the existential challenge for them that it always was for the Western Europeans. The generals of the French may have always appeared cranky to the Anglo-Americans, but then, neither Britain nor America had a common border with Germany. The only way for Germany to strike Britain was to invade and occupy the French and Belgian coasts, as reflected both in the German Septemberprogramm of 1914 and in Hitler’s obsessions with the Atlantic ports between 1940 and 1945. Since the 15th century, European countries that faced the Atlantic had natural advantages over those whose chief home ports were confined to the North, Baltic, and Mediterranean Seas.

Even if weaker than Germany, the islands of Japan nevertheless made an Allied invasion a far more difficult proposition than would crossing the Rhine or Oder into Germany. In fact, no modern power had ever completed a successful invasion of the Japanese homeland, a fact well known to Allied planners who wished to, and did, avoid the prospect through dominant air power.

Japan’s various strategic choices in 1941 were predicated a great deal on traditional geographical considerations. Japan could further reinforce its decade-long presence in China, or in June 1941 join Hitler by attacking the Soviet Union from the east, or absorb more orphaned colonial territory in Asia and the Pacific, or allow the Imperial Navy to begin new wars against the United States and Britain because it was an island sea power with few immediate worries about ground invasions or enemy amphibious landings. Left unspoken was the fact that in almost all these geographical scenarios, an often xenophobic and resource-hungry Japan had few friends. It had alienated the Western powers during the 1930s, invaded China in 1937, fought the Soviets in 1939, and been aggressive toward India; it was disliked and distrusted in the Pacific and unable to partner effectively with its own Axis allies.

Any eastward expansion of 20th century Japan into the Pacific depended also on the status of its western geography. If either Russia or China were to be hostile — and both usually were — by definition Japan would be faced with an uninviting two-front war. In World War II, the bulk of Japanese ground forces — over 600,000 at any given time — was fighting in China, where over a half-million Japanese soldiers eventually perished. Japan was willing to risk a two-front war after its nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union in April 1941, given that the Chinese front was mostly stalemated, but it never envisioned the possibility that Pearl Harbor would lead to a three-theater conflict in which Japan would be fighting China, the United States, and finally the Russians. Because pulling out of the Chinese morass was deemed unacceptable by the government of General and Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, and given that the Imperial Japanese Army had already fared poorly against the Russians from 1932 to 1939 along the Mongolian border, Japan felt its best choice of aggression was a surprise “preemptory” naval air attack on the geographically distant Americans, who allegedly might soon have attacked Japan or would eventually have strangled its importation of key resources. General Tojo told the Japanese war cabinet that he had thought of all the alternatives “until it makes my head ache, but the conclusion always is that war is unavoidable.”

Ruth Wisse:A Romanian Jew’s Private Judgment of a World Bent on Condemning Him

In brilliantly charting the psychological effects of anti-Semitism on both its perpetrators and its victims, a newly translated 1934 novel outdoes even such master analysts as Freud and Proust.

Had my parents read Mihail Sebastian’s novel For Two-Thousand Years when it was published in Romania in 1934, they would have been mad to conceive a Jewish child there two years later.

The novel, only now translated from Romanian into English, is a close-up view of anti-Semitism overtaking a country not from the depths, not through vulgar populism, but through the ideas of its leading intellectuals. Who would be equipped to write such a book, and why? Only a Jewish intellectual himself, one intimate enough with his antagonists to know them as they actually were and artistically brilliant enough, and bold enough, to register exactly how and why they despised him.

Until now I was unaware that such a book existed, and since I am that improbable Jewish child, I must also be thankful that my parents did not know any Romanian intellectuals when they lived there.

Mihail Sebastianwas born Iosif Mendel Hechter in 1907 to traditional Jewish parents in the Romanian town of Brăila on the Danube. As a boy (and for the rest of his life) he felt at once rooted in the river landscape and respectful of his Jewish ancestry, but, with limited education in Jewish sources or Jewish languages, he was much more at home in the Romanian culture of his formal schooling. Once he began studying law in Bucharest, and simultaneously took up writing, he adopted a Romanian pen name and drew close to the local literary-intellectual elite.

Plus or minus the assumed name, the same path was taken by many of Sebastian’s Jewish contemporaries in France, Italy, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and elsewhere. In each case, their literary prospects were conditioned by the linguistic community they aspired to join. For Sebastian, an additional constraint was the open anti-Semitism that accompanied Romania’s heightened nationalism after World War I and that to a greater or lesser degree infected the country’s finest minds. It was his genius not to be deterred by the hostility but to train his eye on what Jews and others tried to ignore.

He did this by keeping a diary: a well-proved means of maintaining one’s intellectual independence. In this medium, even while pursuing a career in law and while pouring out a succession of books, plays, and essays, Sebastian made a habit of recording his private judgment of the world that was bent on condemning him. Indeed, the first of his works to attract international notice, a full half-century after his death, was a portion of his diary encompassing the years leading up to and through World War II. (The English translation, Journal 1935-1944: The Fascist Years, was released in 2000.)

As for the book before us, published in Romania in 1934, it is, to repeat, a work of fiction—but one that itself purports to have been composed out of diary selections tracking the narrator’s development through the prior, eventful decade of 1923-33. Both works richly repay reading, but the fictional form of the latter makes for a tighter and more consciously developed story—and a more mesmerizing one.

At the outset, our fictional diarist declares an obsessive fidelity to his own mind and imagination, an intent signaled by his epigraph from Montaigne: “I not only dare to talk about myself but to talk of nothing but myself.” Although so constricted a focus would seem ill-suited for capturing the essence of an era of political upheaval, the narrator’s rigorous self-scrutiny, which extends to what he is upagainst, yields page after page of coruscating political reportage. Our solipsist becomes a masterful witness to his times.

As the book opens, the Jewish students of Bucharest are under harassment and physical attack by their Gentile classmates. Some resist as best they can, but the unnamed diarist—shall we call him Iosif?—will not be goaded into action. His reason: “I don’t have that kind of vanity.” (Sensing suspect motives in others, he imputes them to himself as well.) When a single Jewish student in a large class rises to protest gross mistreatment, Iosif rails not at the school but at him:

What absurd need to denounce injustice inspires you to cry out? From what ancestral education in humiliation and revolt? . . . I’m furious with you because I can’t hate you enough and because I, along with you, belong to a race that can’t accept things and shut up.

But just as he shrinks from manifestations of Jewish collective pride or courage, so does he recoil from manifestations of Jewish collective timorousness:

If I cry, I’m lost. Clench your fists, you fool, if necessary, believe yourself a hero, pray to God, tell yourself you’re the son of a race of martyrs, yes, yes, tell yourself that, knock your head against the wall, but if you want to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and not die of shame, don’t cry.

By the time Sebastian composed this book in the early 1930s, the tortured psychological effects of anti-Semitism on Jews had already been variously charted by the likes of Sigmund Freud, Max Nordau, Otto Weininger, and Marcel Proust—the last of whom our narrator has read with admiration. His own dissection of the phenomenon exceeds them all. “Let’s presume that the hostility of anti-Semites is, in the end, endurable,” he writes. “How do we proceed with our own, internal, conflict?” Intent on not becoming “a fellow sufferer and sympathizer,” he declaims, a little too defiantly, that he—not yet twenty years old and just beginning to experience himself as an individual—will not be typecast as the member of a group on any terms other than his own. “Jewish fellow feeling—I hate it.”

Still, even while deploring that he is “at two removes from the active game of existence, firstly as an intellectual and secondly as a Jew,” Iosif is not too removed to study everyone around him, including his own kind, in his search to “overcome 2,000 years of talmudism and melancholy and to recover—supposing one of my race has ever had it—the clear joy of life.” That search leads him to three of the leading Jewish ideologies of the period, which he presents to us through the characters who espouse them.

Bowe Bergdahl Pleads Guilty to Desertion and Misbehavior The final saga to a disgraceful prisoner exchange.Ari Lieberman

Three years ago, Susan Rice, Obama’s obsequious national security advisor and the one who infamously blamed the Libyan consulate outrage on a YouTube video, noted on ABC News that Bowe Bergdahl “served the United States with honor and distinction,” and further stated that Bergdahl “wasn’t simply a hostage; he was an American prisoner of war captured on the battlefield.” Three years later, Rice was forced to choke on her words. Her absurd comments represented the zenith of mendacity, and for an administration primarily known for deceitfulness, spin and echo chambers, that’s saying something.

On Monday, Bergdahl pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. The latter charge could mean life behind bars for the deserter while the former carries a five-year term. Bergdahl deserted his post in June 2009 sparking frantic search and rescue efforts to retrieve him. He was later captured by the Taliban. Some within the military, citing a surge of more accurate targeting of U.S. soldiers following his capture, believe that he provided the enemy with information on U.S. Army troop movements.

Bergdahl’s pre-sentencing trial date begins on October 23. Three service members who were wounded by hostile fire while searching for him will likely testify. Two of those wounded sustained permanent life-altering injuries. Navy SEAL Jimmy Hatch now walks with permanent limp thanks to a Taliban bullet to the leg. Hatch’s comrade, Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Mark Allen, wasn’t so “lucky.” He took a bullet to the head while searching for the deserter and is now permanently confined to a wheelchair and unable to talk.

Rice’s skewed characterization of Bergdahl’s military service record wasn’t simply drivel spewed by someone speaking out of abject ignorance. Rather, her comments were a sad reflection of her ex-boss’s convoluted mindset where things such as morality, decency and integrity played second fiddle to ideologically-driven, political expediency. Obama had always wished to close the Guantanamo facility and the Bergdahl exchange was an expedient way for him to dump five hard-core terrorist detainees.

But the exchange, which carried a hefty price tag of nearly $1 million, courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer, left the administration facing two potential powder kegs with severe legal, political and security implications. Obama and his sycophants, including Rice and Ben Rhodes, therefore embarked on a campaign of deceit aimed at garnering sympathy for Bergdahl.

The release of the detainees without giving Congress adequate notice violated the law and posed a legal hurdle for the administration. Under the National Defense Authorization Act, a law passed by Congress and signed by Obama, the administration was required to provide notice to four Senate and four House committees at least 30 days prior to the release of Taliban detainees from Guantánamo. But notice was only given by phone on the actual day of the exchange, which occurred on May 31, 2014. Consequently, the chief counsel for the Government Accountability Office determined that the Pentagon had illegally spent the money used to facilitate the prisoner exchange.

As he had done countless times before (and after), Obama dismissed this legal transgression saying that he had consulted with the Justice Department beforehand and was assured that the manner in which the prisoner exchange occurred was perfectly legal. In other words, Obama consulted his echo chamber, which provided him with the necessary political cover. A similar scenario was to unfold two years later when the Obama administration paid the Iranian regime protection money and provided it with $1.7 billion as ransom in exchange for the release of four American hostages unlawfully imprisoned by the Islamic Republic.

Milos Zeman Czech president calls for disarming of Hamas, Middle East peace to be based on Israel’s safety

A British MP attempted to catch Czech President Milos Zeman off guard by asking how peace in the Middle East can be obtained during a Council of Europe discussion. Zeman responded with pro-Israel statements that stunned the others in the room.

Even though it is only an observer in the Council of Europe, Israel was the recipient of usually blunt support during a discussion in France. When a British official asked Czech President Milos Zeman about the conflict in the Middle East, Zeman responded with pro-Israel remarks, which surprised the other European officials in the room.

The Council of Europe, headquartered in Strasbourg, deals almost exclusively with the cooperation between EU states regarding human rights, democracy and international law. However, the British MP attempted to change the topic of the discussion by surprising Zeman with the following question: “What can you do, and what can we do, to bring peace to the Middle East?”

Zeman did not hesitate and after a very brief pause, he firmly answered the British official: “My response will probably be [a] deep disappointment for you. I am a friend of Israel, [a] deep friend of Israel, and that is why I think that the peace in the Middle East…is to be based primarily in [sic] the safety of Israel.”

“I know the history of all [the] wars starting in [sic] 1948,” he added. “Every war was victorious for Israel…[because] being defeated would mean the end of this state, the Jewish state.”

“I think, unfortunately, that in some countries or movements- let us mention Hezbollah, Hamas and others-…survives the tendency to diminish Israel, to destroy Israel,” he continued. Regarding the way to achieve peace, Zeman said that the terrorist organizations in the Middle East need to be disarmed, explicitly mentioning Hamas and Hezbollah by name.

Zeman’s speech left those in the room stunned even though the Czech Republic and Israel have very good relations. Recently, The Czech parliament recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In addition, Prague decided to condemn UNESCO following its anti-Israel resolutions.

In an interview with Channel 2 News Online, Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO and the Council of Europe Carmel Shama-Hacohen said that Zeman is “a true friend of Israel who told the simple truth about Israel.”

ISIS Loses its “Caliphate” Capital ISIS territory in Syria continues to shrink under U.S.-led coalition pressure. Joseph Klein

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias backed by U.S.-led air strikes, has driven ISIS out of its self-declared “caliphate” capital, the Syrian city of Raqqa. With its back against the wall and its jihadists surrendering or fleeing in droves, ISIS’s control of territory in Syria has been reduced to a strip of the Euphrates valley and surrounding desert. The United States Central Command held back from declaring complete victory, but said that “more than 90 percent of Raqqa is in S.D.F. control.” Land mines and improvised explosive devices remain, which need to be cleared before civilians can safely return. Nevertheless, developments were considered positive enough that Brett McGurk, President Trump’s special envoy for the global coalition against ISIS, reportedly left Washington for a visit to Raqqa.

ISIS had taken over Raqqa at the beginning of 2014. Not until June of this year did the U.S.-backed campaign to take Raqqa back get under way. Just two months ago, there were still about 2,000 ISIS fighters remaining in Raqqa, determined to fight to the death for their capital. By last weekend, a few hundred ISIS militants, mostly foreign born, were left behind to continue fighting, holed up in a stadium and a hospital which were captured on Tuesday.

The loss of its capital is a huge symbolic blow to ISIS, which has been suffering a string of major defeats since President Trump took office. Just as nothing succeeds like success in attracting new recruits to ISIS’s cause, its loss of its base of operations from which it had planned and directed attacks around the world spells failure. As Jenan Moussa, a reporter Arabic Al Aan TV, tweeted: “Game over for ISIS in #Raqqa. They lost capital of their caliphate. Same guys, not long time ago, bragged about conquering Rome.”

Some human rights and anti-war activists have complained that the defeat of ISIS in Raqqa has come at too heavy a price in civilian lives and devastation, which they blame on air strikes by the U.S.-led military coalition. A report issued by Amnesty International last August stated that the coalition forces’ “reliance to a large extent on weapons which have a wide impact radius and which cannot be accurately pinpointed at specific targets to neutralize IS [ISIS} targets in civilian neighborhoods, has exacted a significant toll on civilians.” Some activists blamed the Trump administration’s change in tactics, delegating more decision-making on where and when to conduct air strikes to lower level field commanders.

The number of civilian deaths attributable to coalition air strikes has been estimated to be approximately 1000. That said, much of the problem facing the anti-ISIS coalition is the same that Israel confronted in fighting Hamas militants in Gaza. ISIS concentrated many of its fighters in densely populated areas of Raqqa, using civilians as human shields and hiding among women and children who had nowhere else to go. ISIS used civilian residents’ homes, hospitals, religious sites and civilian neighborhoods as locations from which to conduct their military operations. As Amnesty International itself acknowledged, ISIS “laid mines and booby traps to render exit routes impassable, set up checkpoints around the city to prevent passage, and shot at those trying to sneak out.”

Despite these obstacles, coalition forces endeavored to safely evacuate civilians from Raqqa and out of harm’s way when possible. The coalition allowed a deal to go forward several days ago, under local tribal elders and Raqqa Civil Council auspices, to evacuate civilians by bus from Raqqa along with some non-foreign members of ISIS.

Europe’s New Official History Erases Christianity, Promotes Islam by Giulio Meotti

“The patrons of the false Europe are bewitched by superstitions of inevitable progress. They believe that History is on their side, and this faith makes them haughty and disdainful, unable to acknowledge the defects in the post-national, post-cultural world they are constructing.” — The Paris Statement, signed by ten respected European scholars.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière’s proposal to introduce Muslim public holidays shows that when it comes to Islam, Europe’s official “post-Christian” secularism is simply missing in action.

A few days ago, some of Europe’s most important intellectuals — including British philosopher Roger Scruton, former Polish Education Minister Ryszard Legutko, German scholar Robert Spaemann and Professor Rémi Brague from the Sorbonne in France — issued “The Paris Statement”. In their ambitious statement, they rejected the “false Christendom of universal human rights” and the “utopian, pseudo-religious crusade for a borderless world”. Instead, they called for a Europe based on “Christian roots”, drawing inspiration from the “Classical tradition” and rejecting multiculturalism:

“The patrons of the false Europe are bewitched by superstitions of inevitable progress. They believe that History is on their side, and this faith makes them haughty and disdainful, unable to acknowledge the defects in the post-national, post-cultural world they are constructing. Moreover, they are ignorant of the true sources of the humane decencies they themselves hold dear — as do we. They ignore, even repudiate the Christian roots of Europe. At the same time they take great care not to offend Muslims, who they imagine will cheerfully adopt their secular, multicultural outlook”.

In 2007, reflecting on the cultural crisis of the continent, Pope Benedict said that Europe is now “doubting its very identity”. In 2017, Europe took a further step: creating a post-Christian pro-Islam identity. Europe’s official buildings and exhibitions have indeed been erasing Christianity and welcoming Islam.

One kind of official museum recently opened by the European Parliament, the “House of the European History”, costing 56 million euros. The idea was to create a historical narrative of the postwar period around the pro-EU message of unification. The building is a beautiful example of Art Deco in Brussels. As the Dutch scholar Arnold Huijgen wrote, however, the house is culturally “empty”:

“The French Revolution seems to be the birthplace of Europe; there is little room for anything that may have preceded it. The Napoleonic Code and the philosophy of Karl Marx receive a prominent place, while slavery and colonialism are highlighted as the darker sides of European culture (…) But the most remarkable thing about the House is that.as far as its account is concerned, it is as if religion does not exist. In fact, it never existed and never impacted the history of the continent (…) No longer is European secularism fighting the Christian religion; it simply ignores every religious aspect in life altogether”.

The Brussels bureaucracy even deleted the Catholic roots of its official flag, the twelve stars symbolizing the ideal of unity, solidarity and harmony among the peoples of Europe. It was drawn by the French Catholic designer Arséne Heitz, who apparently took his inspiration from the Christian iconography of Virgin Mary. But the European Union’s official explanation of the flag makes no mention of these Christian roots.

The European Monetary and Economic Department of the European Commission then ordered Slovakia to redesign its commemorative coins by eliminating the Christian Saints Cyril and Methonius. There is no mention of Christianity in the 75,000 words of the aborted draft of the European Constitution.

Win-Win: How Tax Reform Will Help Defense Spending and the Economy by Peter Huessy

While America’s adversaries have been increasing their defense budgets and the power of their armed forces, the United States has been doing the opposite.

Although the Senate and House Armed Services Committees passed a bill for 2018 that would exceed President Trump’s defense budget request, there is still the problem of the 2011 Budget Control Act, which caps defense spending at an extremely low level. Modernization has been curtailed significantly.

Unfortunately, there remains a widely held assumption that unless tax reform is “revenue-neutral,” deficits will increase. The trouble with this assumption is that although revenue-neutral tax reform may make the system more efficient or fair, it neither increases government revenue nor generates additional investment in the private sector. The purpose of the new tax-reform plan is to do both: increase revenue and spur economic growth at the same time.

One crucial aspect of the new tax reform bill, unveiled by President Donald Trump and the “Big Six” group of Republican tax negotiators at the end of September, is the potentially positive effect it will have on the US defense budget, which is sorely in need of an increase.

The assertion made by former President Barack Obama during his final State of the Union address in January 2016, that the United States spends “more on our military than the next eight nations combined,” bolstered the belief that America’s national-security needs are beyond being met. However, as a recent Heritage Foundation report reveals, such claims, which have led to the conclusion that the United States allocates an excessive amount to the defense budget, are “disingenuous,” as they “give no consideration to the decisions driving defense spending or the factors contributing to costs across national economies.”

As the Heritage Foundation points out, although “the U.S. military remains the largest and most capable in the world… [t]he security environment in which in which the U.S. military is expected to operate has grown increasingly complex, and national defense resourcing warrants more than a solitary sentence of discussion.”

America’s major military adversaries, Russia and China, pay their soldiers, sailors and pilots far less than America pays the members of its own forces, which enables Moscow and Beijing to spend more on weapons and research. In addition, unlike the U.S., Russia and China are not transparent about their defense spending at best, and lie about it at worst, with the former reportedly “cooking its defense books,” and the latter publishing nothing about its nuclear weapons program. In addition, while America’s adversaries have been increasing their defense budgets and the power of their armed forces, the United States has been doing the opposite. As former US Senator James Talent wrote in 2013:

“…[T]he picture isn’t pretty. Congress and the president [Obama] will probably agree to increase defense spending by a small amount, but they will probably also take money away from future defense budgets. This will allow them to say that they have increased defense spending while in reality the wholesale unraveling of American power will continue.”

In addition — according to USAF Maj Gen Garrett Harencak — during decades of a “procurement holiday,” America failed to upgrade its nuclear-deterrent capabilities.

This is the bad news. The good news is:

“For the first time in nearly 35 years, the United States is back on track to modernize its entire nuclear deterrent. After previously approving the building of 12 new Columbia class submarines and a new B-21 nuclear-capable bomber, the United States has selected two contractors to compete to build the next land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) nuclear deterrent. This would be the first new land-based ICBM since the Peacekeeper missile was deployed in 1986 and completes a nuclear modernization effort plan promised by the administration.”

What Did Mueller Know? New Documents Show Clinton-Russia Scandal Dwarfs Anything on Trump’s Side By Tyler O’Neil

Contrary to the Left’s favorite narrative, any Russia scandal has always been worse for Hillary Clinton than for Donald Trump. Recent revelations confirmed this Tuesday, and even implicated the special prosecutor at the center of the Trump-Russia investigation, former FBI director Robert Mueller.

In 2010, the Obama administration approved a controversial deal giving Russian company Rosatom partial control of Canadian mining company Uranium One (and with it 20 percent of U.S. uranium), just as Russians paid former president Bill Clinton for speeches and Hillary Clinton was secretary of State. To make matters worse, the FBI had already gathered evidence of Russian corruption in the U.S. but kept it secret just when it would have mattered most, The Hill reported Tuesday.

A confidential U.S. witness working in the Russian nuclear industry helped federal agents gather financial records, make secret recordings, and intercept email starting in 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised U.S. trucking company Transport Logistics International, in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Officials also acquired documents and an eyewitness account corroborating earlier reports that Russian officials had routed million of dollars into the U.S. to benefit the Clinton Foundation just as Hillary Clinton served on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which endorsed the Uranium One deal.

This racketeering scheme was allegedly conducted “with the consent of higher level officials” in Russia who “shared the proceeds,” The Hill reported.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) did not bring immediate charges upon learning of the corruption in 2010, but kept investigating the matter for nearly four more years, leaving the American public and Congress in the dark.

Knowledge of Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil would have been vital to preventing the disastrous 2010 Uranium One deal, but it also might have prevented a lesser known approval in 2011. That year, the Obama administration approved a request from Rosatom’s subsidiary Tenex, allowing it to sell commercial uranium to U.S. nuclear power plants (in addition to reprocessed uranium from dismantled Soviet nuclear weapons sold under the Megatons to Megawatts program).

“The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns,” a person who worked on the case told The Hill. “And none of that evidence got aired before the Obama administration made those decisions.”

Robert Mueller, the special counsel in the Trump-Russia investigation, was at the helm of the FBI from 2001 until 2013, so it seems likely he was culpable in keeping this investigation secret — at the very time when it would have been most pivotal for U.S. national security.

A man who may be responsible for allowing tremendous Russian corruption on U.S. soil to continue — and even intensify — during the Obama administration is now leading the investigation into potential Russian connections involving the man who ran for president against Obama’s legacy. Conflict of interest, much?