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Ruth King

Israel’s New Settlement Policy: Evaluated and Explained by Malcolm Lowe

A definite gain of Israel’s new settlement policy is that it seems to have taken the settlement issue off the boil not just with the Trump administration but also with other friendly foreign governments. Among the losses, thanks to the Judea and Samaria Settlement Regulation Law, is UN Security Council Resolution 2334 of December 23, 2016, which vehemently denounced all Israeli settlement activity.

During March 2017, a delegation appointed by Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held lengthy discussions in Washington with the Trump administration over construction in the Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria (aka the “West Bank”). No summary of those discussions was published, but on March 30 the security cabinet of the Israeli government informed the media that it had drawn up guidelines limiting further construction. Now, however, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman — who has direct responsibility for approving all such construction plans — has confirmed that “Israel is coordinating its settlement construction with the White House.”

He specified that “while coordination is not happening on the level of every ’10 [houses],’ there is general understanding between Jerusalem and Washington about acceptable levels of construction in the West Bank.” This would explain why, whereas under the Obama administration any Israeli announcement about even a small number of housing units would provoke ritual squeaks of protest from U.S. officials, the recent announcements of larger numbers have escaped loud censure.

It should be noted that such announcements commonly give an exaggerated impression of the scale of construction. This is because Israeli urban planning involves a series of stages of approval before actual construction goes ahead. Thus the most recent announcement, billed as “building at the highest level since 1992,” aggregates plans at various stages of approval, some of which were included in earlier announcements. To add together all such figures over a long period would therefore be mistaken because of multiple counting of the same individual housing units.

The new settlement policy was released to various media, such as here, where it is stated:

“Israel, according to the security cabinet decision, will — as much as possible — only permit building within the existing construction lines of the settlements… In areas where this is not possible because there is no more available land inside the settlements, construction will take place close to the existing construction line. Where this too is impossible because of issues of land ownership, or security or topographic considerations, Israel will build as close to the existing settlement as possible… Israel also committed itself not to permit the establishment of new wildcat outposts.”

Several comments are in order. First, this is more or less what all Israeli governments did after the signing of the “Oslo Accords” of 1993 and 1995 and up to the middle of 2016. Second, the details are spelled out far more minutely than in any previous Israeli official statement. Third, the decision applies equally to all settlements whatsoever, whereas previous discussions might distinguish between settlements within or beyond Israel’s security barrier or between the main “settlement blocks” and “outlying settlements.” (Even the two major opposition parties in the Israeli parliament — the Labor Party and Yesh Atid — agree with the government that the settlement blocks should be kept by Israel in any final agreement with the Palestinians.)

On the other hand, two recent exceptions to that policy will be retained. One is the proposed construction of Amihai. This is an entirely new settlement, the first since 1992; it is to be inhabited by the 40 families expelled on February 1-2, 2017 from Amona, the wildcat outpost that they had set up back in 1995 without government permission and on land privately owned by Palestinians. (The expulsion was long delayed for various reasons, most recently because the settlers produced documents of purchase of the land, which were proven false in 2014.) The construction of Amihai was ratified by the security cabinet at the same meeting on March 30, but because Netanyahu had promised the settlers a new settlement at the time of their evacuation it was treated as a matter that preceded the discussions with the Trump administration. (The name “Amihai” itself was coined by the settlers only in May 2017.)

The other exception is the so-called “Judea and Samaria Settlement Regulation Law,” passed by the Israeli parliament on February 4, 2017 after long discussions that started in mid-2016 and that were provoked precisely by the case of Amona. The law addresses land occupied by settlers either within or outside officially created settlements, but which was subsequently found to be privately owned by Palestinians. As far back as 1979, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that settlements could not be built on such land. The law seeks to permit compulsory acquisition of the land while compensating the owners (either financially or with state land elsewhere) if occupation of the land occurred “in good faith” (i.e., without prior knowledge of Palestinian ownership) or if the Israeli state had de facto assisted the occupation (e.g., by connecting buildings to the water or electricity grid). It is widely expected that the law itself will be struck down by the Supreme Court.

“Corrupt Motive” as the Criterion for Prosecuting a President by Alan M. Dershowitz

“Corrupt motive” is an extraordinarily vague and open-ended term that can be expanded or contracted at the whim of zealous or politically motivated prosecutors. It is bad enough when this accordion-like term is used in the context of economic corruption, but it is far worse – and more dangerous to liberty – when used in the context of political disagreements.

In political cases – especially those not involving money – the act itself is constitutionally protected, and the motive, which is often mixed, is placed on trial. It becomes the sole criteria for turning a constitutionally authorized political act into a felony.

Corrupt motive is in the eye of the beholder, and the beholder’s eyes are often more open to charges of corrupt motives on the part of their political enemies than their political allies.

My academic and political colleagues who insist that President Trump has obstructed justice point to his allegedly “corrupt motive” in firing former FBI Director James Comey after telling him that he “hoped” he would end his investigation of General Michael Flynn. They concede – as Comey himself did – that the President has the constitutional authority to fire the director and to order him to end (or start) any investigation, just as he has the authority to pardon anyone being investigated. But they argue that these constitutionally authorized innocent acts become criminal if the President was “corruptly motivated.”

This is a dangerous argument that no civil libertarian should be pressing. Nor would they be pressing it if the shoe were on the other foot. If Hillary Clinton had been elected and Republicans were investigating her for asking the Attorney General to describe the investigation of her as a “matter” rather than a “case,” my colleagues would be arguing against an expansive view of existing criminal statutes, as they did when Republicans were demanding that she be locked up for espionage. The same would be true if Bill Clinton or former Attorney General Loretta Lynch were being investigated for his visit to her when she was investigating his wife’s misuse of email servers.

“Corrupt motive” is an extraordinarily vague and open-ended term that can be expanded or contracted at the whim of zealous or politically motivated prosecutors. It is bad enough when this accordion-like term is used in the context of economic corruption, but it is far worse – and more dangerous to liberty – when used in the context of political disagreements. In commercial cases where corrupt intent may be an element, the act itself is generally not constitutionally protected. It often involves a grey area financial transaction. But in political cases – especially those not involving money – the act itself is constitutionally protected, and the motive, which is often mixed, is placed on trial. It becomes the sole criteria for turning a constitutionally authorized political act into a felony.

Eric Holder Wants to be President Daniel Greenfield ?????!!!!!

What do you do after being held in contempt of Congress in two separate presidential administrations while having the blood of police officers, a border patrol agent and more young black men than you can count?

You run for president.

More than two years after leaving the Obama administration, former Attorney General Eric Holder is reentering the political fray.

His goal: to lead the legal resistance to Donald Trump’s agenda — and perhaps even run against the president in 2020.

If every drug dealer and gang member in America voted, President Holder would be a reality.

“Up to now, I have been more behind-the-scenes,” Holder told Yahoo News in an exclusive interview about his plans. “But that’s about to change. I have a certain status as the former attorney general. A certain familiarity as the first African-American attorney general. There’s a justified perception that I’m close to President Obama. So I want to use whatever skills I have, whatever notoriety I have, to be effective in opposing things that are, at the end of the day, just bad for the country.

And he’s humble and modest too. As a man who belongs in prison ought to be.

Holder has a “certain status” and a “certain familiarity”. There’s a “justified perception” that he has regular beers summits with his former boss who now controls the party.

Open question. Did Holder actually mean notoriety or is he illiterate?

But the most intriguing — and perhaps most consequential — aspect of Holder’s ambitious new effort is a scheme, still in its early stages, to create a national, privately funded, PAC-like organization that would develop and coordinate legal resistance strategies among various states and localities that are determined to stymie Trump.

For now, Holder will continue to set the stage in California. (Earlier this month, the state Assembly decided not to renew his $25,000-a-month contract; the state Senate, however, plans to retain his services indefinitely.)

The “Resistance” will be brought to you by the slimy trail of left-wing cash.

The Leftist News Media, Unmasked Andrea Mitchell, poster woman of the propaganda mill.

If there’s anything that the most recent presidential campaign and its aftermath have made crystal clear, it’s that the major news media in America are teeming with leftists who overtly and covertly promote leftist worldviews and agendas. Andrea Mitchell, who has been the chief foreign-affairs correspondent at NBC News since 1994, is emblematic of the media’s pitiful devolution into nothing more than a propaganda mill.

Like a dutiful leftist, for instance, Mitchell has long viewed white Republicans and conservatives as being particularly inclined toward racism. During a June 2008 appearance on MSNBC, she referred to a heavily pro-Republican area of southwestern Virginia where then-presidential candidate Barack Obama was campaigning, as “real redneck, sort of, bordering on Appalachia country.”

In a December 2015 discussion about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s call for a temporary halt on Muslim immigration to the United States, Mitchell said: “I will tell you that the [Obama] White House views the Trump Muslim ban as pure racism … My first campaign, 1968 as a young reporter, was [that of segregationist] George Wallace. I have seen this before.”

Mitchell objected strongly in June 2016 when Donald Trump said he was being treated unfairly by U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, an Indiana-born American citizen whose parents originally hailed from Mexico. Trump described Curiel, who was presiding over a lawsuit against Trump University, as “a member of a club or society [La Raza Lawyers of San Diego] very strongly pro-Mexican,” and said that it was “just common sense” that Curiel’s connections to Mexico, and his disagreement with Trump’s past calls for stricter border controls, were responsible for his anti-Trump rulings. According to Mitchell, Trump’s remarks were “blatantly racist.”

In November 2016, Mitchell covered the annual conference of the National Policy Institute, a Washington-based think tank that promotes white nationalism. Though the gathering consisted of scarcely 200 attendees, Mitchell tried to emphasize its significance as a barometer of anti-black racism among Donald Trump’s political backers: “Supporters of Donald Trump’s election and the alt-right gathered in Washington this weekend at the Reagan Building … to celebrate with white supremacist speech and echoes of signature language from Nazi Germany.” Later in that segment, Mitchell related an anecdote she had heard about a four-year-old black girl in Harlem who, by Mitchell’s telling, “said she wants to be white” because of her fear “that black people are going to be shot under [President] Trump.” Trump’s election victory, said the news woman, was having a profound “effect on children in minority, in communities of color.”

Russia and the U.S. at the Brink in Syria Trump administration adopts more robust approach. Ari Lieberman

On Sunday, A U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down a Syrian Su-22 attack jet while it was on a bombing run against U.S.-backed anti-regime forces. It was the first U.S. aerial kill involving manned aircraft since 1999, when Serbian piloted MiG-29s faced off against USAF F-15s and F-16s and drew the short end of the stick.

F/A-18E is the U.S. Navy’s workhorse. It is an advanced, versatile multi-role fighter bomber which is capable of performing a variety of missions from executing bombing runs to establishing air superiority. The Su-22, codenamed Fitter by the West, is primarily an attack aircraft which can be fitted with guided and unguided bombs as well as air-to-ground 240-millimeter rockets.

The Navy has not stated what ordnance was used to shoot down the Su-22 but the F/A-18E is armed with an internal M61A2 Vulcan nose-mounted, 20-millimeter rotary cannon. It can also be equipped with a variety of air-to-air missiles including the AIM-9 Sidewinder, the AIM-120 AMRAAM and the AIM-7 Sparrow. Any of these weapon systems could have been used to shoot down the Su-22.

The incident began when forces loyal to the Assad regime attacked the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in Ja’Din wounding an unknown number of SDF fighters. The SDF is currently working with Coalition forces seeking to defeat ISIS.

According to Central Command, “Coalition aircraft conducted a show of force and stopped the initial pro-regime advance toward the SDF-controlled town.” Coalition commanders than contacted their Russian counterparts in an effort to de-escalate the situation and prevent further confrontation. But the Syrians continued their assault prompting a more robust American response. The older Su-22 never had a chance against a skilled U.S. Navy pilot seated in one of the world’s most advanced combat platforms. The Syrian pilot, who is still missing, also probably never knew what hit him.

Under the Trump administration, the United States has adopted a more robust approach toward Syria as compared to the pusillanimous policies pursued by Obama. The administration’s main goal is to defeat ISIS. Part of this strategy involves partnering with friendly anti-regime forces, Kurd as well as Arab, who view both ISIS and Assad as enemies. As a result, the alliance has at times put the U.S. in direct conflict with pro-Assad forces operating against the America’s regional friends.

Defending Israel and Fighting Anti-Semitism: My Ariel Avrech Memorial Lecture The end of apologies. Daniel Greenfield ******

I was honored and privileged to be asked by Robert Avrech of Seraphic Secret to undertake the Ariel Avrech Memorial Lecture in memory of his son Ariel, who passed away at an early age.

Robert and Karen are incredible people who have managed to transmute their loss into a search for meaning. And it was a great responsibility to be part of that and to follow speakers like David Horowitz and Larry Elder who have delivered the lecture in the past. It was also a pleasure to meet up with fellow bloggers from Bookworm Room and Rob from Joshuapundit, as well as having colleague Mark Tapson and Kyle Kyllan, producer of The Enemies Within. And thank you also to those who came from as far away as Marin County and Orange County. I was happy to meet everyone and privileged to be able to participate in this event.

The following is the text of my remarks. You can see the video above. My speech begin after opening remarks by Robert, Karen and a friend of Ariel’s who shared some beautiful memories of him with us.

Year after year has passed and once again we are gathered here to remember an incredible young man. I have participated in these memorials remotely by watching them from afar. It’s an honor and also a great responsibility to stand here and to speak to you.

This day is a tribute to the impact that Ariel Avrech had on his community and that his parents continue to have on all of us.

Sooner or later we all pass on. The day will come when we all have a tombstone in some quiet place. When we are only a memory. We live on in two ways.

We continue on in the spiritual realm in the presence of G-d. And we live on here in the memory of our friends and our loved ones. And in the positive impact that we make through them.

The conversations you have with your children will echo in the conversations they have with theirs. The wisdom you learned from your parents is a faint echo of men and women whose names have been forgotten, but who were your ancestors thousands of years ago stretching back all the way to Sinai.

One day, hundreds of years from now, a descendant you will never meet, will pass on an echo of yours into a distant generation. And a part of you will live on in his words and the impact that they make.

As Jews, we know that we are a people of the book. But before much of the Oral Torah, the Torah she’Baal peh was set down, it was passed on through word of mouth.

We are a people perpetually in conversation with each other. Thank you for coming to join us in this conversation. There are many kinds of conversations. And there’s a saying.
Anti-Semitism has hit unprecedented levels. Defending Israel is harder than ever

Small minds talk about people. Great minds speak about ideas. It is a tribute to Ariel and to his parents, Robert and Karen, that their conversation is about ideas. And that Ariel’s conversations, the words that echo, are of ideas.

“Look in the Thesaurus under greatness — you get importance magnitude fame, size, immensity. Such are the values of our culture.” That was a quote that Ariel carried around with him.

We know how different his values were. And those values live on through the way that we remember him.

Ariel is no longer with us. But he is changing the world. And he is changing all of us. In his honor and memory, I want to speak about a world that he never saw. But which, through us, he is having an impact on.

Our world of today.

When Ariel passed away, the world was on the verge of the major challenges we face today.

Since then things have gotten much worse.

Anti-Semitism has hit unprecedented levels. Defending Israel is harder than ever. But why is that?

It’s 2017. Gay marriage is legal. Everything is more multicultural than ever. Everyone is tolerant of everything. Except the things they’re intolerant of.

If Anti-Semitism were just a garden variety bigotry, then things should be better.

And if Israel is being attacked because of the so-called Occupation, then its situation should be much better than it was since 1967. Look how many peace deals Israel has made and how much territory it’s given away.

Israel should be much more popular now. It should be much easier to be pro-Israel now than it was after the Six Day War.

So why doesn’t it work that way? Why instead does it seem as if the more tolerant society gets, the more intolerant of Jews it becomes? Why are Jews fleeing some of the most multicultural cities in Europe? Why is Berkeley a safe space for everyone except Jews?

Why is the anti-Israel movement much stronger after all of Israel’s efforts to make peace than it was when Israel refused to negotiate with the PLO?

Why is everything backward for the Jews?

When we try to do the things we’re supposed to do, when we work for a more tolerant society, when we try to appease our enemies, things get worse instead of better.

What we’re doing isn’t working.

The fact that it’s 2017 and I’m giving a speech about how to fight anti-Semitism and defend Israel shows it isn’t working.

The strategies we learned have failed. And we need to talk about why they failed.

And, taking a page from George from Seinfeld, I’m going to suggest that what we should be doing is the opposite of what we think we should be doing.
Anti-Semitism has existed since there were Jews

And for the same reason.

Instead of doing all the things that we think will make people like us, we should be true to ourselves. And then we might actually be liked. And more importantly, we’ll deserve to be liked.

I’m not going to devote this speech to going on about how terrible those who hate us are. If you’re sitting in this room, you already know that. I’m not here to talk about the enemies of the Jews. I’m here to talk about the Jews.

We’re a minority. That means we’re other directed. We’re insecure. We’re neurotic. We’re self-conscious. We care what everyone on the outside thinks of us.

And when we talk about anti-Semitism or Israel, we focus on them. Not us.

Why do they hate us? Why don’t they like us? Why is the world so unfair to us?

“Trump-Slayer” Ossoff Flames Out Handel keeps Tom Price’s seat in Georgia in GOP hands. Matthew Vadum


Republican Karen Handel easily beat back Democrat boy wonder Jon Ossoff in yesterday’s special election in Georgia’s 6th congressional district, touted as the most costly congressional race in American history.

Handel becomes the first female Republican elected to Congress from Georgia as Democrats’ effort to throw a wrench in President Trump’s already slow-moving legislative agenda fails rather spectacularly.

“Thanks to everyone who breathlessly and snarkily proclaimed #GA06 as a “referendum on POTUS @realDonaldTrump,” Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway tweeted. “You were right. #winning[.]”

President Trump tweeted his congratulations to Handel “on her big win in Georgia 6th. Fantastic job, we are all very proud of you!”

He added, “Well, the Special Elections are over and those that want to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN are 5 and O! All the Fake News, all the money spent = 0[.]”

The defeat of 30-year-old Ossoff in suburban Atlanta was a crushing blow to Democrat hopes of taking back the longtime Republican seat and thereby giving the Trump Resistance movement a major psychological boost as the Russian electoral collusion conspiracy theory investigation against President Trump fails to gain any new traction. President Trump bested Hillary Clinton by only one percentage point in the district this past November, leading some pundits to describe Georgia-6 as an establishment Republican district.

Ossoff’s campaign spent $22.5 million, compared to Handel’s $3.2 million, according to reports. That is a ratio of 7 to 1 in favor of the Democrat. Despite not being a resident of his district, a fact Handel ably capitalized on, Ossoff took in almost nine times more donations from California than from Georgia. One media analysis indicated a mere 3.5 percent of Ossoff’s donations from late March to the end of May came from within the state. Celebrity endorsements from entertainers Samuel L. Jackson, Chelsea Handler, Alyssa Milano, and John Leguizamo couldn’t save Ossoff. Nor could donations from traitor Jane Fonda, and actors Sam Waterston, Kristen Bell, Connie Britton, Jessica Lange, Lynda Carter, Rhea Perlman, or Jon Cryer get Ossoff across the finish line.

Although it wasn’t the kind of double-digit blowout Republicans are accustomed to in a district that until a few months ago had been represented by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, it still wasn’t even close.

Handel defeated Ossoff by about 52 percent to 48 percent in the runoff election. Ossoff’s percentage last night was roughly the same as the 48.12 percent he earned in the 18-way “jungle primary” contest on April 18, suggesting a huge money advantage and favorable saturation media coverage are not decisive factors in electoral politics in the Trump era.

Only the mainstream media treated the special election in the reliably Republican district as a hotly contested race that could go either way. In the end, it was all hype. The countless polls showing Ossoff ahead as Democrats struggled to turn the race into a kind of national referendum on President Trump were worthless, just like the polls that showed Hillary Clinton would defeat Trump last November.

After all, the 6th congressional district of Georgia has been Republican since Newt Gingrich took it in the 1978 election. The district garners a rating of R+8 on the Cook Partisan Voting Index, also called PVI. The PVI measures how strongly a district or state leans Republican or Democratic compared to the nation as a whole by comparing the district’s average Republican or Democratic share of the two-party presidential vote in the preceding two presidential elections to the nation’s average share of the same. So R+8 means the district is 8 percentage points more Republican than the nation as a whole.

Despite their oft-repeated claim that the public is fed up with President Trump and strongly anti-GOP, Democrats haven’t succeeding in flipping any congressional seats in the five special elections held so far this year. Not even one. If there is a powerful undercurrent threatening to deprive Republicans of control of both chambers of Congress in the 2018 midterms it has yet to surface.

As expected, Jimmy Gomez (D) won the June 6 election in California’s 34th congressional district after Xavier Becerra (D) left to before the state’s attorney general. In the Kansas 4th, Ron Estes (R) won the April 11 election after Mike Pompeo (R) resigned to become CIA director. On May 25, Greg Gianforte (R) won Montana’s at-large seat after Ryan Zinke left to become secretary of the interior.

There was also a less closely observed special election yesterday in the 5th congressional district of South Carolina to fill the seat vacated by Republican Mick Mulvaney, who became director of the Office of Management and Budget in February.

Republican Ralph Norman received 51.1 percent of the vote there, defeating Democrat Archie Parnell who received 47.9 percent of the vote.

President Trump tweeted, “Ralph Norman ran a fantastic race to win in the Great State of South Carolina’s 5th District. We are all honored by your success tonight!”

The South Carolina race, like the race in Georgia, wasn’t much of a contest at all. The district was rated R+9 by the Cook Partisan Voting Index though it hasn’t been a GOP stronghold for as long as Georgia-6.

In 2010, Mulvaney defeated incumbent John Spratt, a Democrat, becoming the first Republican to represent the district since freedman Robert Smalls in 1875. Smalls became a Civil War hero when he freed himself and his crew by commandeering a Confederate transport ship and surrendering it to federal forces.

Now that Karen Handel and Ralph Norman have slammed more doors in the faces of the Resistance, expect the Left to come up with new mischief in their efforts to neutralize Donald Trump as president.

How Europe Lost Its Way To understand the continent’s current crisis, one must trace it back to its post-war roots. By Douglas Murray

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from Douglas Murray’s new book, The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam. It is reprinted here with permission.

There is no single cause of the present sickness of Europe. The culture produced by the tributaries of Judeo-Christian culture, the Ancient Greeks and Romans, and the discoveries of the Enlightenment has not been levelled by nothing. But the final act has come about because of two simultaneous concatenations from which it is now all but impossible to recover.

The first is the mass movement of peoples into Europe. In all Western European countries this process began after the Second World War due to labour shortages. Soon Europe got hooked on the migration and could not stop the flow even if it had wanted to. The result was that what had been Europe — the home of the European peoples — gradually became a home for the entire world. The places that had been European gradually became somewhere else. So places dominated by Pakistani immigrants resembled Pakistan in everything but their location, with the recent arrivals and their children eating the food of their place of origin, speaking the language of their place of origin, and worshipping the religion of their place of origin. Streets in the cold and rainy northern towns of Europe filled with people dressed for the foothills of Pakistan or the sandstorms of Arabia. “The Empire strikes back,” noted some observers with a barely concealed smirk. Yet whereas the empires of Europe had been thrown off, these new colonies were obviously intended to be for good.

All the time Europeans found ways to pretend this could work. By insisting, for instance, that such immigration was normal. Or that if integration did not happen with the first generation then it might happen with their children, grandchildren, or another generation yet to come. Or that it didn’t matter whether people integrated or not. All the time we waved away the greater likelihood that it just wouldn’t work. This is a conclusion that the migration crisis of recent years has simply accelerated.

Which brings me to the second concatenation. For even the mass movement of millions of people into Europe would not sound such a final note for the continent were it not for the fact that (coincidentally or otherwise) at the same time Europe lost faith in its beliefs, traditions, and legitimacy. Countless factors have contributed to this development, but one is the way in which Western Europeans have lost what the Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno famously called the “tragic sense of life.” They have forgotten what the World War II generation so painfully learnt: that everything you love, even the greatest and most cultured civilizations in history, can be swept away by people who are unworthy of them. Other than simply ignoring it, one of the few ways to avoid this tragic sense of life is to push it away through a belief in the tide of human progress. That tactic remains for the time being the most popular approach.

Yet all the time we skate over, and sometimes fall into, terrible doubts of our own creation. More than any other continent or culture in the world today, Europe is now deeply weighed down with guilt for its past. Alongside this outgoing version of self-distrust runs a more introverted version of the same guilt. For there is also the problem in Europe of an existential tiredness and a feeling that perhaps for Europe the story has run out and a new story must be allowed to begin. Mass immigration — the replacement of large parts of the European populations by other people — is one way in which this new story has been imagined: a change, we seemed to think, was as good as a rest. Such existential civilizational tiredness is not a uniquely modern-European phenomenon, but the fact that a society should feel like it has run out of steam at precisely the moment when a new society has begun to move in cannot help but lead to vast, epochal changes.

Had it been possible to discuss these matters some solution might have been reached. Yet even in 2015, at the height of the migration crisis, it was speech and thought that was constricted. At the peak of the crisis in September 2015 Chancellor Merkel of Germany asked the Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, what could be done to stop European citizens’ writing criticisms of her migration policy on Facebook. “Are you working on this?” she asked him. He assured her that he was. In fact the criticism, thought, and discussion ought to have been boundless. Looking back, it is remarkable how restricted we made our discussion even whilst we opened our home to the world. A thousand years ago the peoples of Genoa and Florence were not as intermingled as they now are, but today they are all recognizably Italian and tribal differences have tended to lessen rather than grow with time. The current thinking appears to be that at some stage in the years ahead the peoples of Eritrea and Afghanistan too will be intermingled within Europe as the Genoans and Florentines are now melded into Italy. The skin color of individuals from Eritrea and Afghanistan may be different, their ethnic origins may be from further afield, but Europe will still be Europe and its people will continue to mingle in the spirit of Voltaire and St Paul, Dante, Goethe, and Bach.

As with so many popular delusions there is something in this. The nature of Europe has always shifted and — as trading cities like Venice show — has included a grand and uncommon receptiveness to foreign ideas and influence. From the Ancient Greeks and Romans onward the peoples of Europe sent out ships to scour the world and report back on what they found. Rarely, if ever, did the rest of the world return their curiosity in kind, but nevertheless the ships went out and returned with tales and discoveries that melded into the air of Europe. The receptivity was prodigious: it was not, however, boundless.

North Korea’s Brazen Act By The Editors NRO

In a previous era, the death of Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old American student, at the hands of the regime in North Korea likely would have been considered an act of war. On January 2, 2016, Warmbier was detained by regime officials, allegedly for attempting to steal a propaganda poster. Convicted of a “hostile act” against the state, he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. Upon his release into U.S. custody last week, regime officials said that he had been in a coma for nearly 15 months, and blamed a case of botulism. In reality, Warmbier was almost certainly tortured to death by the regime.

What happened to Otto Warmbier is what has been happening to North Korean citizens for more than 70 years, since Kim Il-sung transformed the new country into what it is today: a hermetically sealed prison state operated by a hereditary dictatorship that some scholars estimate has murdered around 1.5 million people in its network of concentration camps. Those not executed by the regime have fared little better: The country is beset by malnourishment and starvation (a famine in the mid 1990s killed half a million people); its GDP per capita is somewhere south of $1,000, putting North Korea behind Rwanda, Haiti, and Sierra Leone globally; and its shoddy infrastructure causes fires that can be seen from space.

None of these issues has ever been of much concern to the Kim regime, now in its third generation. Kim Jong-un, like his father and grandfather, is dedicated to building up North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. Pyongyang has been alarmingly successful in pursuing that end. The regime has missiles that can reach Japan, and reportedly is not far from being able to strike the continental U.S. North Korea is also already exporting terror in less explosive ways. The regime is responsible for several devastating cyber attacks (recently, North Korean hackers paralyzed the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, as well as industries in 150 other countries), and Kim Jong-un successfully had an estranged member of the family assassinated in Kuala Lumpur in February, in broad daylight. Meanwhile, Pyongyang maintains friendly, mutually beneficial relationships with other terror-loving regimes, including Iran and Cuba.

The fact that North Korea is now a nuclear-armed state is in no small part a consequence of nearly three decades of ill-conceived American and international policy. The last three administrations all hoped to engage the regime in constructive agreements, usually providing some form(s) of aid in exchange for promises to halt the construction of nuclear weapons. The theory was that the aid would help to facilitate economic and ultimately political liberalization.

It has not worked out that way, largely because the regime in Pyongyang is not a trustworthy partner. The Kim regime cheated on the 1994 Agreed Framework, under which it received aid in exchange for halting plutonium and uranium enrichment; in 2002, it unilaterally withdrew from the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty; the regime reneged on its part in an agreement hammered out by the Bush administration in 2007 after less than a year; and Kim Jong-un violated the terms of the 2012 Leap Day agreement after just six weeks by testing a long-range missile.

But it’s also been a case of inconsistent, and often incoherent, American policy. Given the fact that the North Korean economy is almost entirely administered by the regime, these agreements have frequently meant that the U.S. is simultaneously sanctioning and subsidizing Pyongyang, and irregular enforcement by the U.S. Treasury Department took much of the bite out of the sanctions side.

North Korea’s brazen murder of an American citizen is reason to reevaluate.

Last year, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act, which mandated sanctions on entities that have contributed to North Korea’s nuclear program or are complicit in its human-rights abuses, and on the country’s mineral and metal trade (a key source of the regime’s hard currency). The Trump administration should expand on this foundation.

Start with the banks. Since 2007, the U.S. has allowed North Korean financial transactions to flow more or less unencumbered through the U.S. banking system. Because almost all transactions in U.S. dollars pass through U.S. banks, the Treasury Department could, if it wishes, effectively end North Korea’s access to the dollar system, by supplementing the sanctions on North Korean banks imposed by current law with secondary sanctions on any banks that transact with North Korea. When the U.S. did this from 2005 to 2007, banks around the world — including in China — froze or closed North Korean accounts rather than risk their access to the U.S. financial system. Secondary sanctions are crucial to squeezing the regime. Pyongyang’s power relies on a network of bad actors: China launders its money, Iran buys its weapons, Cambodia re-flags its ships (which are smuggling the weapons). The U.S. must be willing to enforce sanctions against these actors, too.

While the U.S. more aggressively goes after the assets of North Korea’s elites — currently, only about 200 North Korean entities have had their assets frozen, compared to about 400 in Cuba and more than 800 in Iran — it could also agitate to have North Korean banks kicked out of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, reducing its access to the global financial infrastructure. In 2012, the U.S. successfully pressured SWIFT to expel Iran. Meanwhile, the U.S. should be pressuring Europe, as well as countries in Africa and Asia, to stop employing North Korean slave laborers. As many as 100,000 North Koreans have been sent abroad by the regime (guess who’s building stadiums for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar?), and defectors report that the regime confiscates 90 percent of their wages when they return home.

On the diplomatic front, North Korea receives an undeserved imprimatur as a member of the United Nations; the Trump administration should work to expel it, as well as from its other international memberships (e.g., the ASEAN Regional Forum and the International Olympic Committee). The State Department should also restore its designation as a state sponsor of terror, removed by the Bush administration in 2008.

And militarily? There are no good military options when it comes to North Korea, it’s true; setting aside the threat of a nuclear response, the North could wreak havoc on some of its neighbors just with conventional arms. But the U.S. can still wield a big stick. The idea that North Korea will stand down if the U.S. reduces its activity around the Korean Peninsula has been decisively proven false, so the U.S. should not hesitate to flex its muscle. The U.S. and South Korea should continue with joint military exercises. Meanwhile, the White House should work to strengthen missile-defense capacities throughout the region. The decision by South Korea’s newly elected president Moon Jae-in to suspend further deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system pending an environmental-impact assessment may be a precursor to rejecting THAAD altogether; the White House should work with President Moon to make sure that does not happen. The administration should also be working to strengthen its relationship with Japan.

Finally, it should go without saying that the United States should be working from the inside to subvert the regime.

It is persistently remarked that North Korea will never change until China stops shielding it, and there’s truth to that. But the United States has leverage, nonetheless, and especially now. And China’s position may be wavering: There are reports that Beijing is considering distancing itself from Pyongyang, and a younger generation of leaders in the Communist party is not at all convinced that bolstering North Korea is, in the long run, worth the trouble. These are pressure points that the United States can exploit.

There is no such thing as a “manageable” nuclear North Korea; ultimately, the Kim family and its crime syndicate must go. The U.S. should recognize the murderous regime in Pyongyang for what it is, and respond accordingly.

Georgia Election: In a Bad District for Trump, Karen Handel Persisted By Dan McLaughlin

For nine months in 1916, the French and German armies battled with insane ferocity over a small patch of land in Northern France, committing over two million soldiers, spending the lives of over 300,000 men (and more than that wounded) and at the epicenter of the battle, pouring millions of shells (literally over a ton of explosives) on an area covering about twelve square miles. The Battle of Verdun was about control of a modest piece of strategically useful territory, but it was really about a lot more: two national combatants testing their strength, resources, and resolve, stakes far more important than an individual town or ridge. Virtually every inch of land that was fought over was destroyed. The victors, the French, held nothing more than what they started the battle with, and their army was broken so badly it has not yet recovered a century later. The losers, the Germans, lost the war.

The residents of Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District can be forgiven for feeling like the villagers of Verdun after a special election that pulverized the district with ad spending and activists. Patrick Ruffini estimated on Twitter this morning that the two parties combined to spend more money in this House race ($50 million) than Ronald Reagan spent on his 1984 presidential re-election (even adjusting Reagan’s $28 million campaign for inflation). At this writing, given the projected outcome, the net result looks very much like Verdun: a costly and depressing victory for the Republicans, bled white defending their own turf, and a debacle for Democrats, who came home empty-handed and must be able to win districts like GA-06 if they are to take control of the House in 2018 and carry out their chief policy goal of impeaching President Trump.

GA-06 was always going to be a heavy lift for both sides. For Democrats, the obstacles were obvious: it’s a deeply conservative district, Newt Gingrich’s old district, that Mitt Romney won 61-38 in 2012, where then-Congressman Tom Price was regularly re-elected with ease. Their candidate, Jon Ossoff, is young and looks younger, had no real base of support in Georgia (the vast majority of his donors were out of state), and doesn’t even live in the district. His opponent, Karen Handel, was much better-known: she was first elected to office in the district fourteen years ago, previously won statewide office as Secretary of State, ran respectable races for Governor in 2010 and Senate in 2014, and won national notoriety in 2012 over her ultimately unsuccessful effort to separate a national cancer charity from Planned Parenthood.

For Republicans, the race was difficult because this is probably the least Trump-friendly Republican district in the country, an upscale, educated suburban district full of transplants from around the country who work for big multinational corporations headquartered in Atlanta. Trump won it by just a point, running double digits behind Romney, and his approval ratings are well lower now than even his dismal favorability numbers on Election Day. Trump lost just four counties in the state in the 2016 presidential primary, but three of those four (Fulton, Cobb, and DeKalb) make up GA-06, all of which went for Marco Rubio. Trump’s worst counties in Georgia in the primary:

DeKalb: Rubio 41, Trump 25
Fulton: Rubio 42, Trump 27
Clarke: Rubio 35, Trump 27
Cobb: Rubio 35, Trump 31

In November as well, Trump ran poorly in these counties compared to incumbent Senator Johnny Isakson – his worst counties in the state relative to Isakson:

Fulton: Isakson -23, Trump -41
Macon: Isakson -12, Trump -27