Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Collapsing Obama Doctrine

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan said, "If history teaches anything, it teaches that simple-minded appeasement or wishful thinking about our adversaries is folly. It means the betrayal of our past, the squandering of our freedom." President Obama is on track to securing his legacy as the man who betrayed our past and squandered our freedom.


As the terrorists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) threaten Baghdad, thousands of slaughtered Iraqis in their wake, it is worth recalling a few of President Obama's past statements about ISIS and al Qaeda. "If a J.V. team puts on Lakers' uniforms that doesn't make them Kobe Bryant" (January 2014). "[C]ore al Qaeda is on its heels, has been decimated" (August 2013). "So, let there be no doubt: The tide of war is receding" (September 2011).

Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many. Too many times to count, Mr. Obama has told us he is "ending" the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—as though wishing made it so. His rhetoric has now come crashing into reality. Watching the black-clad ISIS jihadists take territory once secured by American blood is final proof, if any were needed, that America's enemies are not "decimated." They are emboldened and on the march.

The fall of the Iraqi cities of Fallujah, Tikrit, Mosul and Tel Afar, and the establishment of terrorist safe havens across a large swath of the Arab world, present a strategic threat to the security of the United States. Mr. Obama's actions—before and after ISIS's recent advances in Iraq—have the effect of increasing that threat.

On a trip to the Middle East this spring, we heard a constant refrain in capitals from the Persian Gulf to Israel, "Can you please explain what your president is doing?" "Why is he walking away?" "Why is he so blithely sacrificing the hard fought gains you secured in Iraq?" "Why is he abandoning your friends?" "Why is he doing deals with your enemies?"

In one Arab capital, a senior official pulled out a map of Syria and Iraq. Drawing an arc with his finger from Raqqa province in northern Syria to Anbar province in western Iraq, he said, "They will control this territory. Al Qaeda is building safe havens and training camps here. Don't the Americans care?"

Our president doesn't seem to. Iraq is at risk of falling to a radical Islamic terror group and Mr. Obama is talking climate change. Terrorists take control of more territory and resources than ever before in history, and he goes golfing. He seems blithely unaware, or indifferent to the fact, that a resurgent al Qaeda presents a clear and present danger to the United States of America.

When Mr. Obama and his team came into office in 2009, al Qaeda in Iraq had been largely defeated, thanks primarily to the heroic efforts of U.S. armed forces during the surge. Mr. Obama had only to negotiate an agreement to leave behind some residual American forces, training and intelligence capabilities to help secure the peace. Instead, he abandoned Iraq and we are watching American defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.

The tragedy unfolding in Iraq today is only part of the story. Al Qaeda and its affiliates are resurgent across the globe. According to a recent Rand study, between 2010 and 2013, there was a 58% increase in the number of Salafi-jihadist terror groups around the world. During that same period, the number of terrorists doubled.

In the face of this threat, Mr. Obama is busy ushering America's adversaries into positions of power in the Middle East. First it was the Russians in Syria. Now, in a move that defies credulity, he toys with the idea of ushering Iran into Iraq. Only a fool would believe American policy in Iraq should be ceded to Iran, the world's largest state sponsor of terror.

This president is willfully blind to the impact of his policies. Despite the threat to America unfolding across the Middle East, aided by his abandonment of Iraq, he has announced he intends to follow the same policy in Afghanistan.

Despite clear evidence of the dire need for American leadership around the world, the desperation of our allies and the glee of our enemies, President Obama seems determined to leave office ensuring he has taken America down a notch. Indeed, the speed of the terrorists' takeover of territory in Iraq has been matched only by the speed of American decline on his watch.


The president explained his view in his Sept. 23, 2009, speech before the United Nations General Assembly. "Any world order," he said, "that elevates one nation above others cannot long survive." Tragically, he is quickly proving the opposite—through one dangerous policy after another—that without American pre-eminence, there can be no world order.

It is time the president and his allies faced some hard truths: America remains at war, and withdrawing troops from the field of battle while our enemies stay in the fight does not "end" wars. Weakness and retreat are provocative. U.S. withdrawal from the world is disastrous and puts our own security at risk.
Al Qaeda and its affiliates are resurgent and they present a security threat not seen since the Cold War.

Defeating them will require a strategy—not a fantasy. It will require sustained difficult military, intelligence and diplomatic efforts—not empty misleading rhetoric. It will require rebuilding America's military capacity—reversing the Obama policies that have weakened our armed forces and reduced our ability to influence events around the world.

American freedom will not be secured by empty threats, meaningless red lines, leading from behind, appeasing our enemies, abandoning our allies, or apologizing for our great nation—all hallmarks to date of the Obama doctrine. Our security, and the security of our friends around the world, can only be guaranteed with a fundamental reversal of the policies of the past six years.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan said, "If history teaches anything, it teaches that simple-minded appeasement or wishful thinking about our adversaries is folly. It means the betrayal of our past, the squandering of our freedom." President Obama is on track to securing his legacy as the man who betrayed our past and squandered our freedom.



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Obama’s Criminal Negligence in Iraq

Barack Obama
Barack Obama (Photo credit: jamesomalley)
Truth.... He has disgraced his office, our nation, and rendered meaningless the sacrifice of thousands of American lives. Men and women who died so that we may live. Shame on you Obama! Shame for all time!!!




President Barack Obama came to office promising to “bring a responsible end to the war in Iraq.” That should have been easy enough to do, considering the war was already over. Alas, he seems to have had in mind something quite different than “ending a war.” Perhaps because of his general bias against exertions of American power, Obama seems to have convinced himself that our continuing military presence in post-war Iraq was the same as continuing the war.



That should have been easy enough to do, considering the war was already over. Alas, he seems to have had in mind something quite different than “ending a war.” Perhaps because of his general bias against exertions of American power, Obama seems to have convinced himself that our continuing military presence in post-war Iraq was the same as continuing the war.

This novel conception of when wars end suggests Obama may yet pull our forces out of Europe and the Far East in order to “end” World War II. It also helps to explain how he came to equate “responsibly ending the war in Iraq” with throwing away everything we had gained from it. Obama made it plain from the start that he saw no reason to keep investing in a mistake. He let our military presence in Iraq lapse, and left the Iraqi government to fend for itself when it was still far too fragile. There is a reason we stayed in Germany and Japan and South Korea for decades after the fighting stopped: We didn’t want our sacrifices to be for nothing, and we didn’t want to have to fight again.

Now the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS — the very al-Qaeda forces we defeated in Iraq in 2007 — have come back and taken over huge swaths of the country, including most of the Sunni heartland to the west and north of Baghdad. Meanwhile, over in next-door Syria, Obama stood by while the rebels fighting Bashar Assad came under the dominance of extreme Islamist forces, and then sold them all out with the chemical-weapons deal in September 2013. Consequently, we have thrown the Iraqi government into a de facto alliance with the murderous Baathist regime in Syria — a feat that not even common enemies and a common ideology could achieve during Saddam’s rule — and now both governments find themselves increasingly dependent on Iran.

With Iran’s power and prestige thus enhanced, and rapidly filling the vacuum left behind by the U.S., the mullahs now see the possibility at long last of extending the Islamic Revolution across the Fertile Crescent. With our impending agreement to let Iran keep its nuclear-weapons programs, we can now settle comfortably into the role of a de facto subordinate ally of Iran, whose forces we may soon be helping with air strikes in Iraq. If you’re wondering where that leaves our actual allies among the Gulf kingdoms and Israel, they are wondering the same thing.

Foreign-policy mistakes are inevitable, and should generally be expected, if not always forgiven. But in its approach to Iraq and the Middle East as a whole, the Obama administration has been criminally negligent. It could be years and maybe decades before we see a situation as good as the one Obama found when he got to office — and things are almost certainly going to get far worse before they get better.

By the time he got to the White House in early 2009, Obama should have realized that the war in Iraq was already over, and that we had won. Exactly two years earlier, the Iraqi security forces were reaching critical mass, simultaneous with the start of America’s own surge, and the Sunni tribes of Anbar province were all coming over to the U.S. side. By the summer of 2007, when I was embedded in Iraq, U.S. and Iraqi forces had utterly defeated al-Qaeda’s Iraqi offshoot, ISIS, in a series of massive joint operations. The following year, the Shiite prime minister Nouri al-Maliki personally orchestrated the offensive that crushed the Iranian-backed militias collected in and around Basra in southern Iraq.

U.S. casualties in Iraq were close to levels commensurate with peacetime training activities back home, and a tenuous but real peace reigned over the whole country. Obama inherited from the Bush administration the framework agreement for a long-term alliance with Iraq, as well as a status-of-forces agreement that set December 2011 as a tentative withdrawal date for all U.S. forces. Iraqi politics were dominated by a Shiite-led coalition that overtly favored an ongoing alliance with the United States. In the press, Shiite militias accused each other of being under Iranian control.

At that point, the U.S. was exerting an enormously beneficial and calming influence on Iraqi politics. Sunnis who felt abused by the majority Shiite government could appeal to the Americans for help, while Shiites could remonstrate to the Americans about Sunni intransigence. Both could get results — peacefully — through America’s good offices. In a country where no faction trusted any of the others, all factions could trust the Americans to be impartial, for the simple reason that we were impartial. More important, to invoke the title of Bing West’s great book, we were the strongest tribe.

This central position allowed the various factions of Iraqi politics to embrace an alliance with the United States, instead of being forced to seek the protection of coreligionists in Saudi Arabia or Iran whose real agenda was the continuation of a Wahhabi-Iranian proxy war inside Iraq. This is something that Iraqis constantly commented on in their own press, but which Americans by and large never understood: In toppling the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, the U.S. had opened the door to a proxy war between the Wahhabi extremists of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other Arab states and the Shiite extremists of Khomeini’s revolution in Iran. That war proved far bloodier than America’s counterinsurgency campaign. In fact, the purpose of the counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq was to defeat both sides in the proxy war, so that our newfound allies in the government of Iraq could cement their power and forge a lasting government.

Hence, America’s continuing military presence allowed U.S. military officers and diplomats to exert enormous influence both within Iraq and in the broader Middle East. It allowed us to keep the peace among Iraqi factions while simultaneously diminishing Iranian and Wahhabi Arab influence. We had gained, at a frightful cost in lives and treasure, a priceless strategic asset, namely the possibility of Iraq as a strong military ally, hosting U.S. forces as long as we needed to keep them there, engaged against the extremists in Syria and Iran, as well as al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and their sympathizers among the Arab states. And the prospect of a successful democracy (however rudimentary and corrupt) functioning at the heart of the Middle East gave enormous hope to the pro-democracy movements of the region. In order to consolidate those gains it was absolutely vital for the U.S. to make a long-term commitment and back it up with a long-term military presence.

So what did Obama do? He did what he normally does, which is to counteract what little capacity for action the U.S. national-security establishment retains when left on autopilot. He has visited Iraq only once during his presidency, early in 2009; but even then he only visited troops, and declined to meet with any senior Iraqi officials. He has met with Prime Minister Maliki ​only twice, once in December 2011 and once in November 2013, by which time the current debacle was well in train. By all accounts, Obama barely lifted a finger to preserve a long-term U.S. presence in Iraq, even when — as Dexter Filkins recently reported in a phenomenal feature for The New Yorker — all major Iraqi factions were asking, in private if not in public, for the U.S. to stay.

The tentative end-of-2011 withdrawal date became fixed, and all U.S. forces were gone by the beginning of 2012. What so many Iraqis feared would happen next did not take long to come. The Shiite factions that had rallied to the U.S. side ran for Iranian cover. Sunni tribal leaders who had thrown in their lot with the U.S. were left to fend for themselves in the face of impending and ever more certain assassination. The Iraqi government became more corrupt and authoritarian as Maliki cemented power within his own narrow coalition. The Kurds rested in their mountain redoubt behind their powerful peshmerga militia, as the Sunni heartland once again became fertile ground for ISIS and other Sunni extremists. The country began to descend once again into the Wahhabi-Iranian proxy war that Bush had ended on America’s terms in the final years of his presidency.

Meanwhile, on Syria, Americans quickly agreed, on a broad bipartisan basis, to make the worst of a bad situation. As soon as the rebellion began, there were those, including here at NR, who took the attitude that there were no moderate Sunni rebels in the Syrian resistance, and that we should just let our enemies in Syria (namely everyone) pulverize each other in the hopes they would all lose. In fact, the resistance included plenty of people willing to align themselves with the U.S., namely the very same tribes that had aligned themselves with the U.S. in Iraq.

The civil war in Syria would inevitably threaten the stability of Iraq, and potentially turn into a cataclysmic regional conflict. Hence, opponents of intervention in Syria should have realized that the only alternative to intervening in Syria was to send U.S. forces back into Iraq, in order to seal off the Iraq–Syria border and buttress the Iraqi security forces.

But instead of coopting the Syrian resistance, or — the next best thing — sealing the border between Syria and Iraq, we did nothing. By the start of 2013 we had abandoned both the Sunni resistance in Syria and the Sunni heartland in Iraq to Islamist networks, particularly ISIS. The Syrian civil war’s slide across the border into Iraq rapidly became a reality. Violence increased throughout the year until Maliki came begging for American help in November 2013. But Obama hadn’t done anything to stop the region from sliding back into chaos and there was no point in starting now. Maliki left empty-handed, with little choice but to throw himself at the mercy of the Iranians — and hope for survival in a revival of the Wahhabi-Iranian proxy war.

When Obama got to power, a tenuous peace held in the Middle East, and the U.S. stood at the height of its influence and prestige in the region. Of course, the Middle East is a devilishly tricky place; upheaval is always around the corner; and the U.S. can’t single-handedly control any region. But it should be obvious to anyone who takes an honest look at the events of the last five years that the Obama administration’s whole approach to foreign policy was bound to make the Middle East a much more dangerous place.

Obama’s skepticism of American power apparently blinded him to how vital that power was to the maintenance of peace and stability. Perhaps this discomfort with American power meant the gains of the Iraq war were a burden to him. If so, he couldn’t do anything to reverse the 4,500 lives we lost and $1 trillion we spent to liberate Iraq. But maybe he could make people stop saying the sacrifice had been worth it.

If that was his purpose, then there is at least one area in which his foreign policy is succeeding. As for the rest, behold the Middle East in flames.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Superpower Once Lived Here

A truly spineless worm. To make Jimmy Cater look resolute by comparison...


On February 22, popular protests led to the fall of the pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych in Kiev. On February 27, in response to this setback, President Vladimir Putin sent forces into Crimea to seize it from Ukraine. On March 19, President Barack Obama delivered his response. He reassured Putin, “We are not going to be getting into a military excursion in Ukraine.” Obama added, “What we are going to do is mobilize all of our diplomatic resources to make sure that we’ve got a strong international coalition that sends a clear message.”

The message is clear. The problem is its content. Obama certainly isn’t sending the message that Colin Powell, after the Cold War, wanted America to send: “Superpower lives here.” Obama’s message, by contrast, is: “Superpower once lived here. No forwarding address.”

Putin understands Obama’s message. He knows he’s won Crimea. The question is whether he’ll win Ukraine.

He thinks he will. He’s dealing with the Obama administration, after all. He looks at the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, he witnesses the failure to enforce the red line in Syria and the subsequent successes of his friend Assad, he chortles at the relaxation of the sanctions on Iran and the desperate desire to cut a nuclear deal, and he sees Obama’s defense cuts. And he reads the New York Times, where David Sanger reports, “Mr. Obama acknowledges, at least in private, that he is managing an era of American retrenchment.”

So Putin sees retrenchment. Putin sees retreat. And Putin sees that Obama is unlikely to reverse course.


In late 1979, with the seizure of American hostages by Iran and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter was mugged by reality. Carter then tried, however haplessly, to change direction. But Barack Obama is no Jimmy Carter. Will Obama increase defense spending, as Carter did? Is he likely to launch a military excursion, as Carter did, over the objection—and then resignation—of his dovish secretary of state?

Carter, whatever his problems, was more hawkish than most in his party. In this he followed in the footsteps of every other Democratic president in the past century. Until Barack Obama.

It’s been a bit bewildering, even disorienting, to watch Obama get mugged by reality and refuse to press charges. But of course he doesn’t want to press charges. He doesn’t believe in an international system in which the American role is to lead. Former Saudi intelligence chief Turki al-Faisal was asked by the Financial Times recently about Putin and Obama. He explained: “While the wolf is eating the sheep, there is no shepherd to come to the rescue of the pack. This is where we find ourselves today.”

Indeed it is. In the New York Times, Sanger comments, “History suggests that such eras [of retrenchment]—akin to what the United States went through after the two world wars and Vietnam—often look like weakness to the rest of the world.” Retrenchment looks like weakness because it is weakness. And the consequences of such eras of weakness aren’t happy.

What is to be done? Congress needs to push the administration in the right direction as much as possible. Foreign policy experts need to propose sound measures—to ensure, for example, that the loss of Crimea isn’t followed by the loss of Ukraine—in the hope that President Obama might be pressured to embrace them.

More broadly, though, the opposition—which one hopes will come to include some liberals and some Democrats—has to articulate a foreign and defense policy of resolve and strength. Allies and enemies around the world will read the American situation differently if they think the American collapse of will is bipartisan than they will if they see that it is not. Pro-Western forces around the world may be able to maneuver and to hang on if they receive a clear message that the cavalry is coming to the rescue on January 20, 2017.

So it’s important to mount a vigorous opposition to Obama’s foreign and defense policies. It’s important to propose serious alternatives. It’s important not just for the sake of intellectual honesty and political clarity. It’s important because what the opposition says now can make a difference in the world over the next three years.


It will still be a rough time. America can’t be strong with a president committed to weakness. But the prospects for a restoration of American strength will be brighter, the challenges of 2017 will be less daunting, if the opposition today stands clearly and unequivocally for American strength and leadership, and—dare one say it?—for American greatness.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Immorality of Leaving Iraq and Afghanistan

Obama is a traitor and should be impeached, tried, and executed for war crimes against the American people...T

On every level and from every perspective — from pure national interest to the purely moral — the decision by the Obama administration and the Democratic Party to withdraw American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan is indefensibleLet’s begin with Iraq.

Here is how the front-page article in yesterday’s edition of USA Today began:

"When the last U.S. combat troops departed Iraq in December 2011, they left behind a defeated al-Qaida and an Iraq where traditional rivals Sunni and Shiite Muslims were sharing power in the world’s only Arab democracy.

"Two years later, al-Qaida has seized major cities where hundreds of U.S. troops died while fighting alongside their Iraqi brethren. The population once freed by the U.S.-Iraqi alliance has now watched those same jihadist insurgents return to command the streets and impose their will."

As a result of the United States withdrawing its troops at the end of 2011:

In 2013, 7,818 Iraqi civilians were killed, higher than the 2008 toll of 6,787 (United Nations figures). In 2010, there were approximately 10 car bombs per month; in 2013, there was an average of 71.

At great expenditure in money, lives and limbs, the United States had defeated al-Qaida in Iraq. American troops had turned such terrorist dominated cities as Fallujah and Ramadi into relatively peaceful cities governed by pro-government, anti-al-Qaida Sunnis. And al-Qaida had been handed its greatest defeat.
In 2008, the American people elected as president a man dedicated to bringing the troops home.

Discussing Iraq last week, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, "The president made a commitment to end the war in Iraq. He fulfilled that commitment." The language Carney used is instructive. The president made a commitment "to end the war."

That is how Democrats see abandoning countries to mass death: the "war ends."

That is the amoral and provincial perspective of the Democrats. All the death, torture and fighting that takes place because Americans have withdrawn don’t really matter. For the Democrats and others on the left — the self-proclaimed compassionate folks — the amount of suffering caused by America withdrawing its troops is just not important.

This began with the withdrawal from Vietnam. By 1972, when the Democratic Party nominated George McGovern, it had, for the first time, ceased being a liberal party. It had been taken over by the left, and remains so until this day.
 
Forced by the Democrat-controlled Congress, the United States abandoned Vietnam in 1975. On April 30 of that year, the last American helicopter left Saigon, leaving our Vietnamese allies to be "re-educated," tortured and murdered — and all the Vietnamese to be enslaved by a Stalinist Communist regime.

After America left Vietnam, about two million South Vietnamese were sent to re-education camps, of whom about 165,000 died, between 100,000 and 200,000 were executed, 50,000 died performing hard labor in "New Economic Zones," and another 200,000 to 400,000 Vietnamese died fleeing Vietnam (the "Boat People").

The same month the last American left Vietnam, the Communist Khmer Rouge ("Red Cambodians") under Pol Pot took over Cambodia and proceeded to murder about two million, or about one out of every three or four Cambodians.

Eight months after the Americans left Vietnam, Communists took over Laos who then proceeded — with the help of the Vietnamese Communists — to engage in genocide against the Hmong population.
Meanwhile about three million additional people fled Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

But for the left, the "war ended."

Having lived through all that, I recall only silence from previously vociferous anti-war protestors about the mass murders that followed the American withdrawal from Vietnam. The campuses were quiet, the intellectuals were quiet, the Democratic Party was quiet.

We are reliving that now as the left and its political party abandon Iraq and soon Afghanistan. The amount of death and human suffering that will follow in each country mean nothing to the left and the Democratic Party (and, to be fair, to the Libertarian Party as well) — so long as there is no American involvement.

And the most amazing aspect of all this is that the left and the Democrats are certain that they are the moral and compassionate ones.

But there is one difference this time: In all the previous abandonments of allies, only the benighted allies suffered the consequences. This time, with a victorious al-Qaida in Iraq and Taliban in Afghanistan, we will, too.
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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Against the ‘New Normal’ - Obama's Acceptance of Permanent Decline

How refreshing. I had wondered if ANYONE in America worried, or even noticed, our stunning and precipitous decline these last 5 years

Are you alarmed by the counterterrorism failures increasingly evident as we learn more about the Boston terror attack? Don’t be. Former CIA director Michael Hayden has helpfully explained, “This tragedy is the new normal.”


Are you surprised that a whole city was ordered to “shelter in place” as one “knockoff jihadi,” in Vice President Biden’s term, roamed the streets? Don’t be. It’s the new normal. Are you shocked by the Obama administration’s dissembling in response to terror attacks in Benghazi? Don’t be naïve. It’s the new normal. Are you worried that the president proclaims “red lines” to deter dictators from, e.g., using chemical weapons, then does nothing to enforce them? Don’t be unsophisticated. As Rep. Adam Smith, ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, explained, “The president said it was a red line. What the president never said was what that meant exactly.” It’s the new normal. Are you startled that the commander in chief accepts defense cuts that the president’s own defense secretary said would be “devastating” and “a disaster” and “would inflict severe damage to our national defense”? Don’t be foolish. It’s the new normal.

And do you think, back home, that we might do better than slow economic growth, high long-term unemployment, mountains of debt, and a massive health care reform that’s a “train wreck,” in the felicitous term of the Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee who helped shepherd it through Congress? Didn’t you get the memo? It’s all the new normal.

By the way, the new normal is bipartisan. It’s of course true that the administration in power during this period of national decline has a particular interest in selling the concept of a new normal. It’s true that the idea fits uncommonly well with the fatalism that, beneath the airy talk of hope and change, lies at the heart of modern liberalism. But Republican elites aren’t immune to the charms of the new normal, which excuses subpar performance in so many areas.

So it’s apparently the new normal for GOP leaders in Congress to be more interested in exempting themselves from Obamacare than in laying the groundwork for repealing it, and thereby exempting all Americans. It’s apparently the new normal for GOP elites to spend all their time, money, and effort trying to quickly muscle through a poorly crafted immigration bill—which once passed will have irreversible effects—than trying to do anything significant for American workers or against crony capitalism. It’s apparently the new normal for GOP leaders, at once terrified and contemptuous of their own base, equally intimidated by donors and voters but uninterested in treating either group as grownups, to think they too can simply shelter in place, under the awning of the new normal. (One might add that, when it comes to the leaders of both parties colluding to preserve power and perquisites, the new normal bears a striking resemblance to the old normal.)

Normal Americans, we would wager, don’t accept the new normal. For one thing, they remember being told that all manner of problems, from the existence of the Soviet Union to economic stagflation to high crime rates to welfare dependency, had to be accepted as normal. Both party establishments were wrong in their earlier embrace of various pathologies deemed to be permanent. Why are they owed greater deference today?

There are times when the conservative party ought to be and has to be the party of normalcy, standing against utopian or destructive or foolish change. But there are times—and this is one of them—when a modern conservative party has to be the party that refuses to accept what is said to be normal. This is a time for a serious political party to point out that the new normal is merely a new excuse by the powers-that-be for their deficiencies and failures.

The historic task of American conservatism is not merely to defeat the liberal party in the next election, which, given the way things are going for this administration, shouldn’t be very difficult. It’s to refuse to accept, to boldly challenge, and to fundamentally reverse, an enervating “new normal” that would acquiesce in American decline and say farewell to American greatness.
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