The Common Sense Presidency

After one week of the Trump Administration, I think it is becoming clear that President Trump is really the everyman President.  He is looking at issues, thinking up common sense solutions, and just implementing them.  He wants to create jobs, so he opens the way for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline.  He wants to protect Americans from crime by illegal immigrants, so he takes actions to stop providing federal funds to “sanctuary cities” and sets the wheels in motion to build the wall.  He wants to do whatever it takes, as permitted by law, to get information from terrorists to prevent attacks.  Simple stuff.

By contrast, the Democrats are really setting themselves up to be a niche, boutique opposition party that by reflexively opposing President Trump is boxing itself into extreme positions that are unappealing to the ordinary voter.

Take immigration.  On my drive in to work this morning I heard quotes from a whole host of mayors and county executives assuring their illegal immigrant populations that they would be safe and welcome in there cities and counties.  And I’m thinking, it would be nice if they could have assured the Steinle family that their daughter would be safe.  I doubt I am the only person thinking that.  Or any of the other families who lost loved ones to illegal immigrant criminals.  Common sense says American voters will respond more favorably to someone who vows to protect them and enforce US law.

One of those mayors who promised to protect and keep illegal immigrants safe is Rahm Emanuel in Chicago.  What is he talking about?  He can’t keep anyone safe in Chicago!  Americans look at a city that has shootings and murders daily and have to wonder why the mayor is spending his time worrying about protecting illegal immigrants when he can’t even protect his own citizens.

And if you happened to look at the federal contracting website the last couple of years (FedBizOpps), you would have seen contracts worth tens of millions of dollars to build and manage camps for immigrants flooding across the border.  That is American taxpayer money at a time when we have a huge national debt and many Americans suffering in the weak economic recovery.  No one is letting multi-million dollar contracts to feed and house these Americans.

What about Obamacare?  The media and Democrats are gnashing their teeth that Obamacare recipients might lose their health insurance.  Where was that touching concern when people who were happy with their health insurance lost it because of Obamacare?  Nowhere, that’s where.  At this point, with the failure of the exchanges and the spiraling premiums, it’s clear Obamacare is a failure.  When Democrats agree that it needs to be “fixed,” that is as close to an admission that the thing is a failure as you’ll get.

And what about treatment of captured terrorists?  I think many Americans would regard as perfectly reasonable Trump’s position of doing whatever it takes, as permitted by law, to get as much information out of a captured terrorist.  Perfectly sane, reasonable position that, not surprisingly, prioritizes innocent Americans over guilty terrorists.  And opponents of this position are going to argue . . . what, exactly?  That we shouldn’t do whatever it takes, consistent with law, to get information from terrorists?  That we shouldn’t capture terrorists?  What position could Trump’s opponents take that would appeal to more than a niche, boutique group of civil liberties absolutists?  What position could they take that would oppose Trump but not appear to prioritize terrorists over Americans?

Meanwhile, the Democrats are protesting . . . who knows.  I don’t know what the women’s march was protesting, or what the “RESIST” banner people were protesting, other than the fact that Donald Trump is president.  When Gloria Steinem — last seen enunciating the “one free grope” rule in the pages of the NYT to protect Bill Clinton — is protesting Donald Trump’s treatment of women, it’s obviously all pretext.  They lost an election to a Republican, and they are upset.

And the media aren’t doing themselves any favors.  They are flyspecking every statement the Trump Administration makes.  They have become a roving band of agitated nitpickers fussing over issues no one cares about.

So some free advice for the Trump team:  Ignore them.  Ignore them all.  Do what you think is right.  If it succeeds — and I think it will — the ankle-biters will be left complaining about smaller and smaller things and sinking further and further into irrelevance.  Just like in that old cartoon, be the big dog walking down the street, and ignore all the little yapping ankle-biting dogs.



Finally America is About to (Mostly) Breathe Free Again

If there’s one feeling I’ve had over the last eight years of the Obama Administration, it is one of suffocation.  Everything the Administration seemed to do was designed to suffocate.  The administration piled on regulation after regulation to suffocate industry.  Executive order after executive order to suffocate and further complicate government contracting.  EPA diktat after EPA diktat designed to suffocate the energy industry (except for the boutique clean energy generators from which the US gets less than 10 percent of its energy).  Edict after edict from the Department of Education designed to suffocate free speech on campus, particularly when it came to sexual assault.  The stranglehold of regulations that ensnared doctors and the entire health care industry in paperwork and forced religious objectors to abortion to fund abortifacents.

And, of course, there was the stultifying political correctness that constrained the ability to criticize the Obama Administration lest one be accused of racism, sexism, or whatnot.  With a Republican in the WH, dissent is patriotic and criticism and the adversarial press is legitimate again.

The last eight years have felt like trying to breathe the air in Beijing on a particularly bad air quality day.  The air just chokes you and you can see a mile down the street.  We’ve been metaphorically choked, suffocated, in our everyday lives.  We’ve been living with all sorts of artificial, externally imposed constraints on our lives.  No more.  That ends tomorrow.

Putting aside the demonstrators, protesters, and inauguration boycotters (all of whom are irrelevant with full GOP control of Congress and the presidency), the economy and our public discourse are once again about to breathe free.

It’s already evident from the rising stock market and increased confidence among small businesspeople that the business world expects the business climate to improve and the animal spirits to be revived under a Trump Administration.  Time will tell, but I would not be surprised at all to see a Reagan-esque economic boom in the next four years.

Apocalypse Now for the Democrats

One week away from the Inauguration, and fear of the incoming Trump Administration has reached a fever pitch.  There’s a common theme in the post-election coverage of the nascent Trump Administration and the transition of power, and that is that the apocalypse is upon us and the very idea of Republican governance is an offense against nature.  Look at the drumbeat of stories since the election, each of them designed to undermine and thwart the incoming Administration while terrifying the body politic that the end is nigh:

  • The attacks on the FBI as being responsible for Hillary’s loss;
  • The fantastic allegation that the Russians instituted an elaborate plot to “hack the election” and help Trump defeat Hillary because of a supposed grudge he had against her;
  • The endless scrutiny of the ethical concerns about Trump’s business empire, concerns that were nowhere in sight when Hillary was Secretary of State and the Clinton Foundation was raking in megabucks from foreign donors, including state-owned entities
  • The breathless reports of how the transition was behind schedule in getting appointments together, a mere week after winning an election no reporter thought they would win
  • The complaints that Donald Trump’s going out to dinner without telling the press where he was going was evidence that his would be a secretive, non-transparent administration (from the same people who still haven’t been able to figure out where Obama was during the Benghazi firefight)
  • The panic over “fake news” (and the dropping of the panic over fake news when much of that fake news was directed AT the Trump team)
  • The endless reports of hate crimes supposedly committed by Trump supporters against Muslims and others after Trump’s election victory, all of which turned out to be false
  • The efforts to overturn the election with recounts
  • The efforts to overturn the election in the Electoral College
  • The concerns about the competence of Government outsiders like Rex Tillerson and Ben Carson and Betsy DeVos, and the surprising lack of similar concern about non-experts like Julian Castro and Jeh Johnson running their departments
  • The plans to disrupt the Inauguration with marches and protests
  • The actual disruption of confirmation hearings
  • The fears and skepticism about repealing Obamacare, that there is no “plan” to replace it, this for a bill we had to pass just to find out what was in it — in the dead of night, no less
  • People attacking Jeff Sessions for supposedly not being sensitive enough to civil rights concerns (and for having a half-Asian grandchild)
  • Artists (Meryl Streep, the cast of Hamilton) warning about the descent of fascism, the dark night of chilling artists and the end of diversity

etc. etc.  And all this in just two months! (Which included Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, no less!)  The common threat?  We are about to be ruled by a bunch of incompetent, corrupt, racist, Manchurian candidate cowboys.  I’m just waiting for the locusts, frogs, and slaying of the first born too for the parade of horribles to be complete.  You can just feel it in the air and in the reporting — when Democrats are in control of the levers of power, all is right with the world.  The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the Eloi are rambling in the fields, and the world is spinning properly on its axis.  When Republicans hold the levers of power, it’s because of angry voters, “bitter” clingers, fear, loathing, and trepidation are in the air, and a swarm of Morlocks are surfacing and taking over the country.  Every day is a crisis.  Every reporters question will be “But what about this?  But what about that?”  Listen to every reporter, and the word you will hear more often than ever is “but.”

Does anyone really think we would have kicked those Russian diplomats out of the US, levied sanctions on Russia, and generally made a big stink about Russian involvement if Hillary won?  The question almost answers itself.  I’d bet dollars to doughnuts Obama would have done exactly the same thing he did when the State Department got hacked, when OPM got hacked, when the White House got hacked, and when the Iranians took US sailors hostage and mistreated them: absolutely nothing.

This, I think, is the culmination of 16 years of the Left becoming convinced that it is not only correct in its views, but morally superior.  That the Right is illegitimate.  From the 2000 election and the Bush v. Gore chaos that followed, the Democrats and the Left have viewed Republican government as illegitimate.  The entirety of the Bush presidency saw him being accused of being illegitimate, a Hitler figure, etc.

Meanwhile, the Democrats have been protected and shielded from criticism during the eight years of Obama.  The press and the Democrats muted criticism of Obama and Democratic policies by subtly (and sometimes, not so subtly) accusing the critics of racism.  The press wanted to see Obama succeed and protected him as well.  So the last eight years felt somewhat calm politically.  In fact, the only time a political crisis appeared to be taking shape was when the Tea Party came into being and was immediately attacked as being racist and violent, despite being a calm and mature protest movement (that even cleaned up its own trash after marching on the Washington Mall).

Democrats are not only convinced of their own virtue, they are convinced their opponents lack any virtue.  It’s no wonder they think the coming Republican administration will be a horror show — they have convinced themselves that Republicans aren’t just wrong, they are evil, they are racist, they hate minorities and all immigrants, etc.

So be prepared for the wailing, gnashing of teeth, breathless reporting, righteous indignation, and everything else that comes with Republicans running Government.  The very fact of Republicans running Government is a crisis for some people, including many in the media, so be prepared for the endless negative, skeptical, or outright hostile acts of the media against the Trump Administration (looking at you, Buzzfeed).


Stay on Offense on Obamacare Repeal

The adversarial and skeptical press is back, at least when it comes to the nascent Trump Administration and Congressional Republicans.  Exhibit A is the planned repeal of Obamacare.  Over and over, I hear quizzical, adversarial reporters challenging Republicans that repealing Obamacare without having a replacement in place will be a disaster.  These reporters, no doubt with DNC talking points in hand, are repeating the case the Democrats are making — the old, “you break it, you bought it” Pottery Barn rule.  That the GOP will own health care and any problems once Obamacare repeal occurs.  If only the press had been so questioning and skeptical when Obamacare was being passed in the dead of night (Christmas Eve, no less) and Nancy Pelosi was telling us we had to pass it to find out what it would do, as if Obamacare was some kind of giant lab experiment with the American people as the guinea pigs.

To these reporters and Democrat obstructionists, the GOP should say: fine.  We’ll fix it, we’ll own it.  Have confidence in the reforms, fellas!  And don’t dawdle.  Bring Tom Price’s ideas to the Congress.  Discuss them, modify them, get some think tankers to weigh in.  But then go.  This year.  Have confidence that in the long run these ideas will succeed.  If they fail, we deserve to lose.  But if we implement them half-heartedly, or piecemeal, or over time, they may not succeed like they could, and then the mandate for the overall effort and the GOP’s credibility on the issue will wane.  And understand that as time passes, the political will, capital, and ability to get this stuff passed will dissipate.  Strike while the iron is hot, while the country is ready to give the GOP a chance to govern.

The GOP actually has an extraordinary opportunity to steal the mantle of being the party best on domestic issues from the Democrats.  If the economy roars back to life and GOP health care reforms succeed, what does that leave Democrats with?  Ankle-biting and carping from the sidelines.  Maybe drinking a Slurpee.

Prepare for Protests!

Come January 20, right around 12 noon, I expect dissent will become patriotic again.  I imagine we will be treated to four years (and maybe eight) of 1960s-style protests by the Left as it once again finds itself in opposition.

Already we’ve had one 60s-style protest — the sit-in in Senator Jeff Sessions’ office yesterday by some NAACP activists (including its president) opposing his nomination as Attorney General.  (The activists disgustingly continue to describe Sessions as “Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions”, no doubt because they think it makes him sound like a Southern Confederate and therefore a racist.  Wonder what they thought of people who used “Barack Hussein Obama.”)  The day after the inauguration there will be a protest in DC.  We’ll no doubt be treated to occupations, sit-ins, street theater, etc. for the next four years.  Hopefully minus the sexual assaults and defecation on police cars.

And if President Trump should take military action somewhere, prepare for the wailing and protests of the antiwar movement, reinvigorated by having a Republican in the White House.  They will try to relive the 60s again, just as they did in opposing the Iraq War — as I chronicled in my book, Vietnam Envy and the Emerging Iraq Syndrome (copies available here!  Very cheap for your Kindle!)  Hopefully the Park Service will stock up on cleaning supplies for the mess that Occupy and antiwar protesters will no doubt leave behind in Lafayette Park and on the Mall over the next four years.

It will be imperative on the incoming Trump Administration to put these protests in proper context.  They may be loud and get a lot of press — the adversarial press is due to arrive at 12:01 pm on January 20, too — but they don’t reflect a lot of America.  They will begin to reflect a lot of America if the Administration doesn’t fight back, though.  In Iraq, the antiwar movement grew to a crescendo and slowly built antiwar support in the mainstream, making fighting and winning the war more difficult.  The same will happen to any Trump Administration initiative as well if it does not fight back and counter any untruths that the protesters will purvey and the media will endlessly repeat until the untruths harden into conventional wisdom.

It’s already happening with the election itself.  The Left’s claim that Russia “hacked the election” is hardening into conventional wisdom in an obvious effort to delegitimize Donald Trump’s election, even though (1) no election vote-counting systems were hacked; (2) there is no hard evidence that any hacking was done to benefit Donald Trump; and (3) the John Podesta emails that were made public were relatively trifling, inside-baseball emails that, in any event, no one claims to be forgeries.  Still, the reaction of the media and the Obama Administration (with its sanctions and bellicose reaction) is an obvious attempt to cast doubt on Donald Trump’s election.  (Sure would be nice if the Left felt the same way about other Russian and Chinese provocations.)

This is only the first of many efforts to form conventional wisdom around inaccurate, misleading, or deliberately skewed information (“fake news,” anyone?).  The Trump Administration will need to fight, fight, fight with everything it has to oppose these efforts when they begin, not after they have hardened into conventional wisdom.



John Kerry’s Middle East Speech, Annotated

I took the liberty of annotating Secretary Kerry’s speech from yesterday. I think it makes the speech much more palatable.  However, I could only get through half of it before I ran out of steam…regardless, please enjoy.


SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very, very much. Thank you. (Coughs.) Excuse me. Thank you for your patience, all of you. For those of you who celebrated Christmas, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. Happy Chanukah. And to everybody here, I know it’s the middle of a holiday week. I understand. (Laughter.) But I wish you all a very, very productive and Happy New Year.

Today, I want to share candid thoughts about an issue which for decades has animated the foreign policy dialogue here and around the world – the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Throughout his Administration, President Obama has been deeply committed to Israel and its security, and that commitment has guided his pursuit of peace in the Middle East. This is an issue which, all of you know, I have worked on intensively during my time as Secretary of State for one simple reason: because the two-state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It is the only way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace and security with its neighbors. It is the only way to ensure a future of freedom and dignity for the Palestinian people. And it is an important way of advancing United States interests in the region.

Now, I’d like to explain why that future is now in jeopardy, and provide some context for why we could not, in good conscience, stand in the way of a resolution at the United Nations that makes clear that both sides must act now to preserve the possibility of peace.

Yes, please explain, Professor Kerry.


I’m also here to share my conviction that there is still a way forward if the responsible parties are willing to act. And I want to share practical suggestions for how to preserve and advance the prospects for the just and lasting peace that both sides deserve.

So it is vital that we have an honest, clear-eyed conversation about the uncomfortable truths and difficult choices, because the alternative that is fast becoming the reality on the ground is in nobody’s interest – not the Israelis, not the Palestinians, not the region – and not the United States.

Now, I want to stress that there is an important point here: My job, above all, is to defend the United States of America – to stand up for and defend our values and our interests in the world. And if we were to stand idly by and know that in doing so we are allowing a dangerous dynamic to take hold which promises greater conflict and instability to a region in which we have vital interests, we would be derelict in our own responsibilities.

And if there’s one thing John Kerry and his boss know about, it’s “standing idly by” and being “derelict in our own responsibilities.” Just ask the victims of Syria’s civil war and ISIS’s Yazidi and Christian genocides.


Regrettably, some seem to believe that the U.S. friendship means the U.S. must accept any policy, regardless of our own interests, our own positions, our own words, our own principles – even after urging again and again that the policy must change. Friends need to tell each other the hard truths, and friendships require mutual respect.

Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations, who does not support a two-state solution, said after the vote last week, quote, “It was to be expected that Israel’s greatest ally would act in accordance with the values that we share,” and veto this resolution. I am compelled to respond today that the United States did, in fact, vote in accordance with our values, just as previous U.S. administrations have done at the Security Council before us.

They fail to recognize that this friend, the United States of America, that has done more to support Israel than any other country, this friend that has blocked countless efforts to delegitimize Israel, cannot be true to our own values – or even the stated democratic values of Israel – and we cannot properly defend and protect Israel if we allow a viable two-state solution to be destroyed before our own eyes.

And that’s the bottom line: the vote in the United Nations was about preserving the two-state solution. That’s what we were standing up for: Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living side by side in peace and security with its neighbors. That’s what we are trying to preserve for our sake and for theirs.

So nice of him to stand up for Israel’s future! Might he consider they can stand up for themselves?


In fact, this Administration has been Israel’s greatest friend and supporter, with an absolutely unwavering commitment to advancing Israel’s security and protecting its legitimacy.

Methinks the lady doth protest too much.


On this point, I want to be very clear: No American administration has done more for Israel’s security than Barack Obama’s.

Israeli public, what say you? “Another term as PM for Bibi, please.”


The Israeli prime minister himself has noted our, quote, “unprecedented” military and intelligence cooperation. Our military exercises are more advanced than ever. Our assistance for Iron Dome has saved countless Israeli lives. We have consistently supported Israel’s right to defend itself, by itself, including during actions in Gaza that sparked great controversy.

Except for that part during the Gaza war where you denied Israel resupply and banned flights to Ben Gurion, leaving Israel in the lurch.


Time and again we have demonstrated that we have Israel’s back. We have strongly opposed boycotts, divestment campaigns, and sanctions targeting Israel in international fora, whenever and wherever its legitimacy was attacked, and we have fought for its inclusion across the UN system. In the midst of our own financial crisis and budget deficits, we repeatedly increased funding to support Israel. In fact, more than one-half of our entire global Foreign Military Financing goes to Israel. And this fall, we concluded an historic $38 billion memorandum of understanding that exceeds any military assistance package the United States has provided to any country, at any time, and that will invest in cutting-edge missile defense and sustain Israel’s qualitative military edge for years to come. That’s the measure of our support.

Methinks the lady is still protesting.


This commitment to Israel’s security is actually very personal for me. On my first trip to Israel as a young senator in 1986, I was captivated by a special country, one that I immediately admired and soon grew to love. Over the years, like so many others who are drawn to this extraordinary place, I have climbed Masada, swum in the Dead Sea, driven from one Biblical city to another. I’ve also seen the dark side of Hizballah’s rocket storage facilities just across the border in Lebanon, walked through exhibits of the hell of the Holocaust at Yad Vashem, stood on the Golan Heights, and piloted an Israeli jet over the tiny airspace of Israel, which would make anyone understand the importance of security to Israelis. Out of those experiences came a steadfast commitment to Israel’s security that has never wavered for a single minute in my 28 years in the Senate or my four years as Secretary.

Ah, Masada . . . where Jews were trapped in a tiny territory surrounded by enemies bent on their destruction. Sounds very familiar.  Good reference Secretary Kerry!


I have also often visited West Bank communities, where I met Palestinians struggling for basic freedom and dignity amidst the occupation, passed by military checkpoints that can make even the most routine daily trips to work or school an ordeal, and heard from business leaders who could not get the permits that they needed to get their products to the market and families who have struggled to secure permission just to travel for needed medical care.

It’s especially hard on those people who want to blow up pizzerias and ram their cars into Israelis waiting at bus stops. But please go on.


And I have witnessed firsthand the ravages of a conflict that has gone on for far too long. I’ve seen Israeli children in Sderot whose playgrounds had been hit by Katyusha rockets. I’ve visited shelters next to schools in Kiryat Shmona that kids had 15 seconds to get to after a warning siren went off. I’ve also seen the devastation of war in the Gaza Strip, where Palestinian girls in Izbet Abed Rabo played in the rubble of a bombed-out building.

Ah, Gaza . . . that Judenrein strip of land so masterfully governed by Hamas. Pop quiz, hotshot: why does Hamas launch missiles at Sderot from a territory, Gaza, that has not one Israeli settler in it?  Riddle me that, smarty pants.


No children – Israeli or Palestinian – should have to live like that.

So, despite the obvious difficulties that I understood when I became Secretary of State, I knew that I had to do everything in my power to help end this conflict. And I was grateful to be working for President Obama, who was prepared to take risks for peace and was deeply committed to that effort.

Yeah, you were prepared to “take risks for peace.” You know what would have been risky?  Pushing this resolution and making this speech a month BEFORE Election Day, not a month after.  You couldn’t even do that.  There’s a word for you – I believed the President’s team used it to describe Netanyahu.  Had something to do with a chicken.


Like previous U.S. administrations, we have committed our influence and our resources to trying to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict because, yes, it would serve American interests to stabilize a volatile region and fulfill America’s commitment to the survival, security and well-being of an Israel at peace with its Arab neighbors.

Seriously, nothing would stabilize the Middle East and stop ISIS and Syrian butchery like permanent borders between Israel and the Palestinians. Once those lines are drawn, I’m sure everyone in Aleppo will be safe.


Despite our best efforts over the years, the two-state solution is now in serious jeopardy.

The truth is that trends on the ground – violence, terrorism, incitement, settlement expansion and the seemingly endless occupation – they are combining to destroy hopes for peace on both sides and increasingly cementing an irreversible one-state reality that most people do not actually want.

Today, there are a number – there are a similar number of Jews and Palestinians living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. They have a choice. They can choose to live together in one state, or they can separate into two states. But here is a fundamental reality: if the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic – it cannot be both – and it won’t ever really be at peace. Moreover, the Palestinians will never fully realize their vast potential in a homeland of their own with a one-state solution.

Boy, John, did you come up with that all by yourself? That is some clever stuff.  I can’t recall anyone ever saying that before.  I also can’t recall anyone explaining why Palestinians can’t tap their vast potential like Israeli Arabs living in Israel.  But that’s a clever quote, so let’s roll with it! 


Now, most on both sides understand this basic choice, and that is why it is important that polls of Israelis and Palestinians show that there is still strong support for the two-state solution – in theory. They just don’t believe that it can happen.

As the wise philosopher Homer once said, “in theory, Communism works. In theory.” 


After decades of conflict, many no longer see the other side as people, only as threats and enemies. Both sides continue to push a narrative that plays to people’s fears and reinforces the worst stereotypes rather than working to change perceptions and build up belief in the possibility of peace.

You know what else pushes that narrative and those stereotypes? Naming public places after terrorists and encouraging people to go into their kitchens, get knives, and stab Jews.


And the truth is the extraordinary polarization in this conflict extends beyond Israelis and Palestinians. Allies of both sides are content to reinforce this with an us or – “you’re with us or against us” mentality where too often anyone who questions Palestinian actions is an apologist for the occupation and anyone who disagrees with Israel policy is cast as anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic.

That’s one of the most striking realties about the current situation: This critical decision about the future – one state or two states – is effectively being made on the ground every single day, despite the expressed opinion of the majority of the people.

Oh, the Israelis expressed their opinion alright. They elected Bibi.  Did the Palestinians express an opinion in a free election?  I can’t seem to recall one recently.  Last election I remember was in Gaza, and Hamas won.  Not sure that was an expression of support for a two-state solution…


The status quo is leading towards one state and perpetual occupation, but most of the public either ignores it or has given up hope that anything can be done to change it. And with this passive resignation, the problem only gets worse, the risks get greater and the choices are narrowed.

Reminder: No Jewish settlers in Gaza . . .


This sense of hopelessness among Israelis is exacerbated by the continuing violence, terrorist attacks against civilians and incitement, which are destroying belief in the possibility of peace.

I wonder who is doing the inciting. John Kerry, deep thinker that he is, must be wondering too, since he couldn’t name them.


Let me say it again: There is absolutely no justification for terrorism, and there never will be.

You tell ‘em, John. That’ll convince them.  Nothing is more threatening than an American red line!


And the most recent wave of Palestinian violence has included hundreds of terrorist attacks in the past year, including stabbings, shootings, vehicular attacks and bombings, many by individuals who have been radicalized by social media. Yet the murderers of innocents are still glorified on Fatah websites, including showing attackers next to Palestinian leaders following attacks. And despite statements by President Abbas and his party’s leaders making clear their opposition to violence, too often they send a different message by failing to condemn specific terrorist attacks and naming public squares, streets and schools after terrorists.

President Abbas and his party are opposed to violence, but not naming public places after violent terrorists.  Gotcha.  You have to be an Ivy Leaguer to come up with reasoning this obtuse. 


President Obama and I have made it clear to the Palestinian leadership countless times, publicly and privately, that all incitement to violence must stop. We have consistently condemned violence and terrorism, and even condemned the Palestinian leadership for not condemning it.

You seem to be doing a great job of convincing the Palestinians to stop incitement. If only the old Obamacare razzle-dazzle worked on them.  Also, Syria is still using chemical weapons.  Red lines for all!        


Far too often, the Palestinians have pursued efforts to delegitimize Israel in international fora. We have strongly opposed these initiatives, including the recent wholly unbalanced and inflammatory UNESCO resolution regarding Jerusalem. And we have made clear our strong opposition to Palestinian efforts against Israel at the ICC, which only sets back the prospects for peace.

So when the Palestinians start hauling people into the ICC under UN Resolution 2334, are Obama and Kerry going to say, “oops, my bad”?


And we all understand that the Palestinian Authority has a lot more to do to strengthen its institutions and improve governance.

Most troubling of all, Hamas continues to pursue an extremist agenda: they refuse to accept Israel’s very right to exist. They have a one-state vision of their own: all of the land is Palestine. Hamas and other radical factions are responsible for the most explicit forms of incitement to violence, and many of the images that they use are truly appalling. And they are willing to kill innocents in Israel and put the people of Gaza at risk in order to advance that agenda.

My my, that is troubling. A refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist seems pretty fundamental to the conflict, n’est pas?  (Je parle francais pour vous, M. Kerry.)


Compounding this, the humanitarian situation in Gaza, exacerbated by the closings of the crossings, is dire. Gaza is home to one of the world’s densest concentrations of people enduring extreme hardships with few opportunities. 1.3 million people out of Gaza’s population of 1.8 million are in need of daily assistance – food and shelter. Most have electricity less than half the time and only 5 percent of the water is safe to drink. And yet despite the urgency of these needs, Hamas and other militant groups continue to re-arm and divert reconstruction materials to build tunnels, threatening more attacks on Israeli civilians that no government can tolerate.

Got that out of the way. Time for the main event:


Now, at the same time, we have to be clear about what is happening in the West Bank. The Israeli prime minister publicly supports a two-state solution, but his current coalition is the most right wing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements. The result is that policies of this government, which the prime minister himself just described as “more committed to settlements than any in Israel’s history,” are leading in the opposite direction. They’re leading towards one state. In fact, Israel has increasingly consolidated control over much of the West Bank for its own purposes, effectively reversing the transitions to greater Palestinian civil authority that were called for by the Oslo Accords.

Oooo, those evil right-wingers. To paraphrase a famous American, “they won.”  No thanks to the Kerry State Department, which funded anti-Netanyahu NGOs during the 2015 Israeli elections.  Meddling in another country’s democratic elections – who would do such a thing?  Why, that strikes at the very heart of democracy! 

In any event, Netanyahu is PM because he won an election. You know, where people go to free and open polls to select their leaders.  I know it’s hard to recognize a free and fair election in the Middle East.  An election that, to my knowledge, went unhacked except for the State Department’s ham-handed anti-Netanyahu activity. 


I don’t think most people in Israel, and certainly in the world, have any idea how broad and systematic the process has become. But the facts speak for themselves. The number of settlers in the roughly 130 Israeli settlements east of the 1967 lines has steadily grown. The settler population in the West Bank alone, not including East Jerusalem, has increased by nearly 270,000 since Oslo, including 100,000 just since 2009, when President Obama’s term began.

Translation: Israelis are stupid and either don’t know what their own government is doing or are being lied to by their government. Reminder to Kerry: the West Bank settlements are not Obamacare.


There’s no point in pretending that these are just in large settlement blocks. Nearly 90,000 settlers are living east of the separation barrier that was created by Israel itself in the middle of what, by any reasonable definition, would be the future Palestinian state. And the population of these distant settlements has grown by 20,000 just since 2009. In fact, just recently the government approved a significant new settlement well east of the barrier, closer to Jordan than to Israel. What does that say to Palestinians in particular – but also to the United States and the world – about Israel’s intentions?

Wow, 20,000 people! That’s, like, 4 percent of the people killed in Syria alone on your watch!


Let me emphasize, this is not to say that the settlements are the whole or even the primary cause of this conflict.

No, they are just the primary cause of my speech. Having to listen to me talk is the primary cause of the conflict. 


Of course they are not. Nor can you say that if the settlements were suddenly removed, you’d have peace. Without a broader agreement, you would not. And we understand that in a final status agreement, certain settlements would become part of Israel to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 49 years – we understand that – including the new democratic demographic realities that exist on the ground. They would have to be factored in. But if more and more settlers are moving into the middle of Palestinian areas, it’s going to be just that much harder to separate, that much harder to imagine transferring sovereignty, and that is exactly the outcome that some are purposefully accelerating.

Good thing you supported the UN resolution that declared even the settlements “that would become part of Israel” illegal. Did you even read the damned resolution?  You didn’t even have to read the whole thing!  It’s Point 1 of the resolution!


Let’s be clear: Settlement expansion has nothing to do with Israel’s security. Many settlements actually increase the security burden on the Israeli Defense Forces. And leaders of the settler movement are motivated by ideological imperatives that entirely ignore legitimate Palestinian aspirations.

IDF General Kerry showing off his expertise in understanding Israel’s security. Remember, he served in Vietnam!


Among the most troubling illustrations of this point has been the proliferation of settler outposts that are illegal under Israel’s own laws. They’re often located on private Palestinian land and strategically placed in locations that make two states impossible. There are over 100 of these outposts. And since 2011, nearly one-third of them have been or are being legalized, despite pledges by past Israeli governments to dismantle many of them.

Sounds like the Israelis are exercising prosecutorial discretion. What kind of government would affirmatively disregard its laws on the migration of population across borders?


Now leaders of the settler movement have advanced unprecedented new legislation that would legalize most of those outposts. For the first time, it would apply Israeli domestic law to the West Bank rather than military law, which is a major step towards the process of annexation. When the law passed the first reading in the Israeli parliament, in the Knesset, one of the chief proponents said proudly – and I quote – “Today, the Israeli Knesset moved from heading towards establishing a Palestinian state towards Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.” Even the Israeli attorney general has said that the draft law is unconstitutional and a violation of international law.

Now, you may hear from advocates that the settlements are not an obstacle to peace because the settlers who don’t want to leave can just stay in Palestine, like the Arab Israelis who live in Israel. But that misses a critical point, my friends. The Arab Israelis are citizens of Israel, subject to Israel’s law. Does anyone here really believe that the settlers will agree to submit to Palestinian law in Palestine?

A slightly more critical point: does anyone think those settlers would survive for more than a day in a Palestinian state where they did not have the protection of the IDF?


Likewise, some supporters of the settlements argue that the settlers could just stay in their settlements and remain as Israeli citizens in their separate enclaves in the middle of Palestine, protected by the IDF. Well, there are over 80 settlements east of the separation barrier, many located in places that would make a continuous – a contiguous Palestinian state impossible. Does anyone seriously think that if they just stay where they are you could still have a viable Palestinian state?

Well, if those settlements became part of that state, I guess that would solve the contiguity problem. But we can’t have Jews living in a Palestinian state, can we.  Abbas says they have “filthy feet.”


Now, some have asked, “Why can’t we build in the blocs which everyone knows will eventually be part of Israel?” Well, the reason building there or anywhere else in the West Bank now results in such pushback is that the decision of what constitutes a bloc is being made unilaterally by the Israeli Government, without consultation, without the consent of the Palestinians, and without granting the Palestinians a reciprocal right to build in what will be, by most accounts, part of Palestine. Bottom line – without agreement or mutuality, the unilateral choices become a major point of contention, and that is part of why we are here where we are.

Undoubtedly, if the Israelis identified the land that would be swapped tomorrow, the Palestinians would get right down to building homes, farms, and industry in those lands. Just like they built homes, farms, and industries in Gaza.  (Of course, if by “homes, farms, and industries” you mean “sophisticated tunnel networks to infiltrate into Israel and kill sleeping children,” then you might be onto something.)


You may hear that these remote settlements aren’t a problem because they only take up a very small percentage of the land. Well, again and again we have made it clear, it’s not just a question of the overall amount of land available in the West Bank. It’s whether the land can be connected or it’s broken up into small parcels, like a Swiss cheese, that could never constitute a real state. The more outposts that are built, the more the settlements expand, the less possible it is to create a contiguous state. So in the end, a settlement is not just the land that it’s on, it’s also what the location does to the movement of people, what it does to the ability of a road to connect people, one community to another, what it does to the sense of statehood that is chipped away with each new construction. No one thinking seriously about peace can ignore the reality of what the settlements pose to that peace.

Because there is no way Israel might dismantle some of those settlements as part of your beloved “compromise,” right? On an unrelated note, I wonder if that Swiss cheese is making him think of that cheesesteak with Swiss he ordered in Philly during the 2004 campaign.


But the problem, obviously, goes well beyond settlements. Trends indicate a comprehensive effort to take the West Bank land for Israel and prevent any Palestinian development there. Today, the 60 percent of the West Bank known as Area C – much of which was supposed to be transferred to Palestinian control long ago under the Oslo Accords – much of it is effectively off limits to Palestinian development. Most today has essentially been taken for exclusive use by Israel simply by unilaterally designating it as “state land” or including it within the jurisdiction of regional settlement councils. Israeli farms flourish in the Jordan River Valley, and Israeli resorts line the shores of the Dead Sea – a lot of people don’t realize this – they line the shore of the Dead Sea, where Palestinian development is not allowed. In fact, almost no private Palestinian building is approved in Area C at all. Only one permit was issued by Israel in all of 2014 and 2015, while approvals for hundreds of settlement units were advanced during that same period.

Moreover, Palestinian structures in Area C that do not have a permit from the Israeli military are potentially subject to demolition. And they are currently being demolished at an historically high rate. Over 1,300 Palestinians, including over 600 children, have been displaced by demolitions in 2016 alone – more than any previous year.

It might even be more than last week’s Russian and Iranian bombings in Syria and Saudi Arabia’s bombings in Yemen.


So the settler agenda is defining the future of Israel. And their stated purpose is clear. They believe in one state: greater Israel. In fact, one prominent minister, who heads a pro-settler party, declared just after the U.S. election – and I quote – “the era of the two-state solution is over,” end quote. And many other coalition ministers publicly reject a Palestinian state. And they are increasingly getting their way, with plans for hundreds of new units in East Jerusalem recently announced and talk of a major new settlement building effort in the West Bank to follow.

Got any good “one-state solution” quotes from Hamas? I hear they have a few.  Like in their founding charter, for example.  Better question: got any “two-state solution” quotes from Hamas?  Or Fatah?  Now THAT would be quite a find.


So why are we so concerned? Why does this matter? Well, ask yourself these questions: What happens if that agenda succeeds? Where does that lead?

There are currently about 2.75 million Palestinians living under military occupation in the West Bank, most of them in Areas A and B – 40 percent of the West Bank – where they have limited autonomy. They are restricted in their daily movements by a web of checkpoints and unable to travel into or out of the West Bank without a permit from the Israelis.

So if there is only one state, you would have millions of Palestinians permanently living in segregated enclaves in the middle of the West Bank, with no real political rights, separate legal, education, and transportation systems, vast income disparities, under a permanent military occupation that deprives them of the most basic freedoms. Separate and unequal is what you would have. And nobody can explain how that works. Would an Israeli accept living that way? Would an American accept living that way? Will the world accept it?

Wow, Palestinians would have no political rights? Quelle horreur!  You might think they were citizens of Egypt, or Jordan, or Syria, or Iran, or Cuba, or Sudan, or Saudi Arabia.  I’m sure there will be a UN resolution about these countries any minute now!  And last I checked, separate legal systems is precisely what Muslims in the West are demanding.


If the occupation becomes permanent, over the time the Palestinian Authority could simply dissolve, turn over all the administrative and security responsibilities to the Israelis. What would happen then? Who would administer the schools and hospitals and on what basis? Does Israel want to pay for the billions of dollars of lost international assistance that the Palestinian Authority now receives? Would the Israel Defense Force police the streets of every single Palestinian city and town?

Yes, because we all know that those billions of aid dollars are going right to schools and hospitals. In other news, Yasser Arafat died a multimillionaire and his wife and child live in Paris.


How would Israel respond to a growing civil rights movement from Palestinians, demanding a right to vote, or widespread protests and unrest across the West Bank? How does Israel reconcile a permanent occupation with its democratic ideals? How does the U.S. continue to defend that and still live up to our own democratic ideals?

Nobody has ever provided good answers to those questions because there aren’t any. And there would be an increasing risk of more intense violence between Palestinians and settlers, and complete despair among Palestinians that would create very fertile ground or extremists.

I dunno. How do Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, and Egypt deal with it?


With all the external threats that Israel faces today, which we are very cognizant of and working with them to deal with, does it really want an intensifying conflict in the West Bank? How does that help Israel’s security? How does that help the region?

The answer is it doesn’t, which is precisely why so many senior Israeli military and intelligence leaders, past and present, believe the two-state solution is the only real answer for Israel’s long term security.

Now, one thing we do know: if Israel goes down the one state path, it will never have true peace with the rest of the Arab world, and I can say that with certainty. The Arab countries have made clear that they will not make peace with Israel without resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That’s not where their loyalties lie. That’s not where their politics are.

I guess then Egypt and Jordan aren’t Arab countries. But I know you were still busy dining out on your slander of American troops’ activities during Vietnam when the Israelis and Egyptians signed a peace deal, so I can see how you might have missed that. 


But there is something new here. Common interests in countering Iran’s destabilizing activities, and fighting extremists, as well as diversifying their economies have created real possibilities for something different is Israel takes advantage of the opportunities for peace. I have spent a great deal of time with key Arab leaders exploring this, and there is no doubt that they are prepared to have a fundamentally different relationship with Israel. That was stated in the Arab Peace Initiative, years ago. And in all my recent conversations, Arab leaders have confirmed their readiness, in the context of Israeli-Palestinian peace, not just to normalize relations but to work openly on securing that peace with significant regional security cooperation. It’s waiting. It’s right there.

Many have shown a willingness to support serious Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and to take steps on the path to normalization to relations, including public meetings, providing there is a meaningful progress towards a two-state solution. My friends, that is a real opportunity that we should not allow to be missed.

Translation: My idiotic nuclear deal with Iran has achieved the otherwise impossible – warming relations between Israel and the Sunni Arab states.  That’s some eight-dimensional chess right there.  Go Kerry!


And that raises one final question: Is ours the generation that gives up on the dream of a Jewish democratic state of Israel living in peace and security with its neighbors? Because that is really what is at stake.

Now, that is what informed our vote at the Security Council last week – the need to preserve the two-state solution – and both sides in this conflict must take responsibility to do that. We have repeatedly and emphatically stressed to the Palestinians that all incitement to violence must stop. We have consistently condemned all violence and terrorism, and we have strongly opposed unilateral efforts to delegitimize Israel in international fora.

Except for last week’s resolution, which will be the basis for boycotts of Israel and ICC cases against Israelis. But please, go on.


We’ve made countless public and private exhortations to the Israelis to stop the march of settlements. In literally hundreds of conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu, I have made clear that continued settlement activity would only increase pressure for an international response. We have all known for some time that the Palestinians were intent on moving forward in the UN with a settlements resolution, and I advised the prime minister repeatedly that further settlement activity only invited UN action.

Yet the settlement activity just increased, including advancing the unprecedented legislation to legalize settler outposts that the prime minister himself reportedly warned could expose Israel to action at the Security Council and even international prosecution before deciding to support it.

In the end, we could not in good conscience protect the most extreme elements of the settler movement as it tries to destroy the two-state solution. We could not in good conscience turn a blind eye to Palestinian actions that fan hatred and violence. It is not in U.S. interest to help anyone on either side create a unitary state. And we may not be able to stop them, but we cannot be expected to defend them. And it is certainly not the role of any country to vote against its own policies.

I believe a redlined version of the speech reads: We could not in good conscience turn a blind eye toward the murder of 500,000 Syrian civilians and the internal displacement of over 3 million Syrians settlements housing 20,000 Jews.  (There’s a red line the Obama folks can get behind.)


That is why we decided not to block the UN resolution that makes clear both sides have to take steps to save the two-state solution while there is still time. And we did not take this decision lightly. The Obama Administration has always defended Israel against any effort at the UN and any international fora or biased and one-sided resolutions that seek to undermine its legitimacy or security, and that has not changed. It didn’t change with this vote.

But remember it’s important to note that every United States administration, Republican and Democratic, has opposed settlements as contrary to the prospects for peace, and action at the UN Security Council is far from unprecedented. In fact, previous administrations of both political parties have allowed resolutions that were critical of Israel to pass, including on settlements. On dozens of occasions under George W. Bush alone, the council passed six resolutions that Israel opposed, including one that endorsed a plan calling for a complete freeze on settlements, including natural growth.

Let me read you the lead paragraph from a New York Times story dated December 23rd. I quote: “With the United States abstaining, the Security Council adopted a resolution today strongly deploring Israel’s handling of the disturbances in the occupied territories, which the resolution defined as, including Jerusalem. All of the 14 other Security Council members voted in favor.” My friends, that story was not written last week. It was written December 23rd, 1987, 26 years to the day that we voted last week, when Ronald Reagan was president.

See, see, Reagan did it too, so it’s OK!! Look, a squirrel!


Yet despite growing pressure, the Obama Administration held a strong line against UN action, any UN action, we were the only administration since 1967 that had not allowed any resolution to pass that Israel opposed. In fact, the only time in eight years the Obama Administration exercised its veto at the United Nations was against a one-sided settlements resolution in 2011. And that resolution did not mention incitement or violence.

Now let’s look at what’s happened since then. Since then, there have been over 30,000 settlement units advanced through some stage of the planning process. That’s right – over 30,000 settlement units advanced notwithstanding the positions of the United States and other countries. And if we had vetoed this resolution just the other day, the United States would have been giving license to further unfettered settlement construction that we fundamentally oppose.

So we reject the criticism that this vote abandons Israel. On the contrary, it is not this resolution that is isolating Israel; it is the permanent policy of settlement construction that risks making peace impossible. And virtually every country in the world other than Israel opposes settlements. That includes many of the friends of Israel, including the United Kingdom, France, Russia – all of whom voted in favor of the settlements resolution in 2011 that we vetoed, and again this year along with every other member of the council.

With friends like these . . .


In fact, this resolution simply reaffirms statements made by the Security Council on the legality of settlements over several decades.

Then why did the UNSC feel the need to restate things it has already said? Just because you drone on repetitively and endlessly doesn’t mean everyone else does.


And Kerry goes on, but I won’t. I can’t.  The 8th Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

How Obama’s Treatment of Iran and Israel Neatly Encapsulates His Entire Foreign Policy

The occasion of UN Resolution 2334 declaring illegal all Jewish settlements in the disputed territories Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War leads me to revisit the roots and themes of the Obama foreign policy.  It’s a topic I explored in my book, Vietnam Envy and the Emerging Iraq Syndrome (available here!), and one that seems particularly relevant in the wake of the UN resolution.

Although the Obama Administration probably fancies itself an outside-the-box thinker when it comes to foreign policy, with its realignment toward Iran in the Middle East and opening to Cuba, in fact, Obama’s foreign policy is nothing more than a conventional, banal leftist foreign policy that would fit snugly in the academic circles from which Obama came.  It’s probably indistinguishable from what an average Middle Eastern Studies department might favor, straight out of the Edward Said “Orientalism” school of thought.  (Who knows, maybe Obama studied with Said while at Columbia.  Obama’s college transcript might help us figure that out, but it is under lock and key, for unknown reasons.  If I was a politician and I had a transcript with straight As from Columbia, that puppy would have been in a full-page ad in the New York Times during my campaigns.)

Obama’s realignment toward Iran and away from America’s traditional Sunni allies is the apotheosis of this conventional, unoriginal leftist foreign policy.  Iran combines several factors that touch leftists’ erogenous zones:

(1) Iran is a revolutionary, anti-Western state.  Just as the left has a soft spot for revolutionary dictators like Castro in Cuba and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, the left has a weakness for the mullahs in Iran.  They aren’t capitalists, they think the West is decadent, and they are running a non-Western theocracy that is hostile to Judaism and Christianity, giving them that authentic “revolutionary” feel.  Iran under the mullahs is an exotic, non-aligned, Third World “other” — catnip to Western leftist intellectuals.

(2) Iran is a state whose policies are grounded in grievances against the West.  Iran blames the West for the overthrow of Mossadegh, the years of the Shah, and for the West’s prior colonial activities in the Middle East.  It believes that the West took advantage of Iran’s oil resources prior to the 1979 revolution.  It despises the West’s support of the Sunni Gulf monarchies.  And, of course, it regards Israel as a Western colonial outpost.

(3) Iran’s current government overthrew a Western-backed dictatorship.  That alone might be enough to make Iran heroic in Western leftist intellectuals’ eyes.  The Shah, like Pinochet, was a dirty word in leftist circles.  Never mind that the mullahs maintained much of the Shah’s secret police (SAVAK) for their own ends and instituted a police state far harsher and more ruthless than that of the Shah.  And never mind that Iran was much more prosperous and free under the Shah than the mullahs.  Boring, conventional bourgeois values never meant much to leftist intellectuals who hunger for revolutionary authenticity against Western mores and values.

In the opposite corner, the Obama Administration had Israel.  It is the exact opposite of everything that Western leftist intellectuals love about Iran:

(1) Israel is a fully Western country.  Israel is a parliamentary democracy.  It has the feel of your average Western European country.  Despite its socialist roots, the country is fully Western in attitude, outlook, culture, and economics.  It is most emphatically not a revolutionary state.  Citizens are free not to care about politics and to focus on other pursuits.  The state is not the all-consuming center of life as it is in any totalitarian society.  No massive billboards of Dear Leader on every street corner in Israel.

(2) For the leftist intellectual, Israel represents colonialism.  Perhaps the cardinal sin for a Western leftist intellectual.  Given the Balfour Declaration and the British Mandate, there is a view that Israel is the imposition of Western colonial powers.  In his Cairo speech in 2009, Obama emphasized Israel’s creation in response to the Holocaust without mentioning the centuries of Jewish connection to and inhabiting of Palestine.  The recent UNESCO resolution denying any historical Jewish connection to Jerusalem is of a piece with — and probably intended to reinforce — the belief that Israel is a relatively recent creation of Western powers.

(3) Israel is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition.  Israel is not an exotic Third World “other”.  Although Israel is the most multicultural, tolerant, polyglot, LGBT-friendly nation in the Middle East, its political system and justice system are firmly rooted in Western Judeo-Christian traditions.

(4) Israel is not grievance-minded.  Israel is a forward-looking nation that has assimilated immigrants from all over the world, including refugees from Arab nations that evicted their Jews in 1948.  You won’t find 50-year-old refugee camps in Israel kept like a festering sore to maintain a cause of action against those countries that evicted Jewish refugees.  No families still hold and proudly display keys from homes they left half a century ago.  Israel is a leader in biotech, cybersecurity, and agriculture.  Israel does not nurse grievances against countries that have done it wrong.  It defends its interests diplomatically and militarily like any other nation.  But it is not consumed by grievances against others.  For Western leftist intellectuals, grievance is the basis for diplomatic activity — witness Obama’s infamous apology tour of the world when he first became president.

So if you are wondering where Obama got his foreign policy, it’s no real mystery.  Just find the nearest Middle Eastern Studies faculty lounge and have a listen.