Trump Grinds the G20, the Bureaucratic Underground, and CNN into Hamburger
This was a week of startling contrasts.
The President reasserted (against a decades-long leftist attack on it) the significant achievements of Western civilization and the need to vigorously defend it. His speech prefaced the G20 meeting in Hamburg, where leftists rioted, burned, and looted while the G20 leaders ponced about and wined and dined in style, apparently oblivious to the havoc which their open border policies and multiculturalist mindset had birthed. As Trump worked successfully on trade and defense issues in Europe, his administration was quietly plugging security leaks and maladministration in our own bureaucratic underground.
Western Europe has been blinded by ideological nonsense. On the one hand it has worked assiduously to separate religion and politics. On the other hand, it has welcomed in hordes of Islamists. In contrast, to quote Zoltan Balog, Hungary’s Minister for Human Resources “in the case of Islam it is religion that determines politics.”
Eastern Europe, in particular Poland, was the right place to defend Western culture and values. And Trump did so brilliantly to the great delight of the thousands who flocked to hear him.
Eastern Europe not only shows a greater understanding of Western culture than Western Europe does; these Eastern countries have also been far more generous to NATO, the bulwark of their independence and security. Culture and security go hand-in-hand: if you take your own culture and civilization seriously, you will be ready to defend them.
A brief look at the NATO's members' military spending as a percentage of GDP shows that Poland meets the 2% target, unlike all the Western European countries. Only five of NATO's 28 members -- the U.S., Greece, Poland, Estonia and the U.K. -- meet the 2% target. Where is France? And Belgium? And Germany? And The Netherlands?
"Unlike most of its NATO and European peers," Agnia Grigas, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, explained, "Poland has for the past two decades consistently viewed defense as a priority issue, and as a result, has been slowly but steadily emerging as the bedrock of European security". Poland -- unlike Belgium, Italy and other European countries -- is not a "free rider" but a trustworthy partner to its US ally. Poland showed loyal support to the United States both in Afghanistan and Iraq, where its troops fought the Taliban and helped to topple Saddam Hussein.
It is no coincidence that President Trump selected Poland, a country that fought both Nazism and Communism, to call on the West to show a little willingness in its existential fight against the new totalitarianism: radical Islam.
"The West will continue to have the military edge for a good time to come, but possessing weapons is one thing, and possessing the will to use them is another thing altogether", wrote William Kilpatrick, a professor at Boston College. "The West is strong militarily, but weak ideologically. It lacks civilizational confidence".
That is why it is critical that Eastern Europe continues to be a strong voice of dissent in the EU project. It might provide just the cultural confidence that European bureaucrats dramatically lack -- at the peril of Europe itself.
David Goldman (Spengler), no stranger to such things, says the Trump address in Warsaw sent a message that was “calculating and subtle” and “those who abhor Trump as an ignoramus should hang their heads in shame:
First, the United States has drawn a red line at the Polish border, making clear that America will shed blood if need be to defend its Polish ally. Second, the line is drawn around Poland, not Ukraine. The United States is prepared to reach an agreement with Russia over Ukraine if Russia stops destabilizing Ukraine and if it leashes its Iranian dog. The United States has sent a clear message -- as the president reminded his Warsaw audience -- that it will not tolerate the tolerance of terror by the Saudis or other Sunni allies. We expect Russia to do the same with its Shi'ite allies.
That is tough, but realistic. Trump is willing to negotiate with the Russians, but from a position of strength, in solidarity with our allies who have suffered historically from Russian aggression, and with unambiguous lines in the sand. It was a brilliantly crafted speech, the slickest as well as the most inspiring foreign policy address of any American president since Ronald Reagan.
Trump also gave Poland and other Eastern European countries critical backing in their fight against the European Union's attempt to force them to accept their quota of Muslim migrants.
Add this to news that we are selling Patriot Missiles to Poland to allow them to avoid Russian encroachment, and it’s clear Poland must be breathing a sigh of relief that Obama is finally out of the White House.
B. Helping Europe Avoid the Russian Energy Stranglehold on it
If you only read the mainstream nonstop promotion of the idea that producing sufficient and steady sources of energy is a bad thing, that we have reached “peak energy”, and Obama’s ridiculous “we can’t drill our way out of it,” you might have missed the significance one of the most important developments of the week. Energy supplies are the lifeblood of modern industrial societies. You cannot heat and cool your homes, transport goods, produce the products you need, defend your country or even fire up your computer without abundant, steady energy supplies. Europe needs it and thanks to our new energy policies, we have it to spare.
In Warsaw, as Ed Morrissey points out, Trump offered leaders from Poland and numerous other European countries long-term LNG deals to diversify their supplies and avoid creating undesirable political leverage with a certain large country to the East that has not hesitated to cut off natural gas supplies for political reasons.
Trump didn’t mention that nation. He didn’t have to. It contains six letters beginning with R and ending with a.
“America stands ready,” Trump declared at a news conference, “to help Poland and other European nations diversify their energy supplies, so that you can never be held hostage to a single supplier.”
In previous years, Russia has turned off natural gas exports to certain countries whose policies displeased Putin. This approach of Trump’s is another part of his tougher talk on trade, which seems to be working, as we wrote here.
Liquefied natural gas exports are a key part of this president’s energy program and trade policy, which he intends to use to help balance trade deficits and exert favorable leverage on trading partners, China, for instance, where the U.S. buys $300 billion more per year than it sells.
The United States has had an insatiable appetite for energy imports over the years. But thanks to the technical developments of fracking that tap into previously unreachable sources, the U.S. now has an immense abundance of natural gas.
The first meeting of Trump and Russian President Putin apparently went well and extended considerably beyond the allotted time set for it. At the end of which a new agreement was reached that promises to reduce civilian bloodshed and the threat of wider war in the Middle East.
It is set to take effect today. Details of the agreement are being worked out and as of this time I have not found anything more definitive than that the parties are working on a plan to deescalate the fighting in Southwest Syria, along the border with Jordan and Israel. How this will be monitored remains to be worked out. For obvious reasons Israel has indicated it will not allow Russian troops to monitor in its area.
D. On the Home Front
The Veterans Administration
Not all the good news is taking place overseas. At home, the slow process of dealing with bureaucratic rot and treachery is well underway.
When he ran for President, Trump promised he’d clean up the Veterans Administration, a bureaucracy which was ill-serving America’s veterans. He’s keeping his word:
The VA has removed 526 employees since Jan. 20, according to the accountability report released on Friday. Agency officials have demoted another 27 employees and temporarily suspended an additional 194 employees for longer than two weeks. The list does not include the employees' names but shows their positions.
"In addition to posting the adverse action information, Secretary Shulkin announced that he is requiring approval by a senior official of any monetary settlement with an employee over the amount of $5,000," the VA noted Friday. "Any settlement above this amount will require the personal approval of the undersecretary, assistant secretary or equivalent senior-level official within the organization in which the dispute occurs."
Shulkin highlighted the new disclosure policy as part of his efforts to change the "culture" at the VA.
The Leakers of the Deep State
At the Wall Street Journal Kimberley Strassel reviews the “leak crime wave” originating in the deep state.
Citing the report of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, she notes the seriousness and scope of these leaks
The Trump leaks show the sweeping nature of this enterprise, coming as they have from “U.S. officials,” “former U.S. officials,” “senior U.S. officials,” “intelligence officials,” “national security officials,” “Justice Department officials,” “defense officials” and “law-enforcement officials.” One story cited more than two dozen anonymous sources. Alarmingly, the titles, and the nature of the information disclosed, indicate that many leaks are coming directly from the U.S. intelligence community.
What’s been disclosed? The contents of wiretapped information. The names of individuals the U.S. monitors, and where they are located. The communications channels used to monitor targets. Which agencies are monitoring. Intelligence intercepts. FBI interviews. Grand jury subpoenas. Secret surveillance-court details. Internal discussions. Military operations intelligence. The contents of the president’s calls with foreign leaders.
The analysis lays out the real and the assumed fallout. One clear example is the May stories hyperventilating that Mr. Trump shared classified intelligence with the Russians. Subsequent leaks suggested Israel provided the intelligence, about Islamic State. This revelation caused a diplomatic incident, and reportedly a change in the way Israel shares with the U.S. Even former Obama CIA Director John Brennan called the leak “appalling.”
How many foreign allies are pulling back? How many will work with a U.S. government that has disclosed military plans, weapons systems and cybersecurity tactics? What have our enemies learned? One March story divulged sensitive FBI data on U.S. border vulnerabilities, in hopes of undercutting Mr. Trump’s travel order.
In light of this report, I couldn’t help laughing as I read Politico’s take on the poor leakers shivering in their boots as the relentless Trump efforts to stop this is underway.
Here’s a sample:
The reverberations have spread in the weeks since, and several national security officials outside the White House have spoken of a strategic thinning of the ranks -- limiting the number of people even read into certain sensitive matters, so that if something leaks, the suspects are obvious.
“The circles on this are so small,” one U.S. intelligence official said of the various Russia investigations that have cast a shadow on Trump’s White House.
Information on Trump and Russia has been so limited there would be fewer and fewer sources, the official said, putting those who are talking at risk. “Confirming [Russia news] is almost impossible,” the official said.
In some cases, the official added, information has been so “choked down” that if something comes out in the press, “it’s either a bogus leak” or, the official said, the relevant agency will know exactly where it came from. And, the official said, they had heard several other government organizations had started doing the same.
The agency targeted by Trump as “fake news” proved it in a series of undercover reports from Project Veritas, the ravings of CNN’s Jim Acosta, and last but not least, its blackmailing of someone who’d produced a gif of Trump flaying CNN in a professional wrestling satire.
That attack by CNN’s sinister enforcer Andrew Kaczynski on Reddit user HanAssholeSolo was an outrageous act of overreach by the increasingly aggressive and hectoring left. It was the liberal media deciding that among its new roles is to police society’s behavior and mores in the manner of the NKVD.
Definitely one good thing to have come out of #CNNBlackmail is that the enemy has shown its true colors. But the far, far better news is that the good guys have fought back.
And the best news of all is: we’re #winning.
Yes, we are winning. And I’m not yet tired of it.