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L’Etat, C’est Trump

May 12, 2017 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Thank you, Kellyanne Conway. On Thursday on Fox News, the President’s most polished defender told America the truth about why Donald Trump fired James Comey: Trump “expects people who are serving in his administration to be loyal to the country and to be loyal to the administration.” And he sees no distinction between the two. Read more…

The Atlantic »

Enough With the Charges of Democratic Hypocrisy

May 11, 2017 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Everything I’m about to write is obvious. But contesting things formerly considered obvious is part of what Donald Trump and his supporters do. It’s how they undermine pre-existing liberal democratic norms. So here goes.

When Trump (in three separate tweets), Fox News and National Review call Democrats hypocrites for condemning Trump’s decision to fire James Comey after having criticized his stewardship of the FBI, they’re wrong. Read more…

The Atlantic »

How the Firing of the FBI Director Tests Conservatives

May 10, 2017 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Since Donald Trump won the Republican nomination close to a year ago, conservative responses to him have fallen into three broad categories: pro-Trump, anti-Trump and anti-anti-Trump. The firing of James Comey is no exception. Read more…

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Trump’s Meeting With Abbas: Should We Laugh Or Cry?

May 4, 2017 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

“Mr. President, with you, we have hope.” So said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during his joint press conference at the White House on Wednesday. As with so much in the Donald Trump era, it’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry. Read more…

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What Trump Still Doesn’t Understand About the Holocaust

April 26, 2017 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Given his administration’s bizarre rhetorical struggles when it comes to anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, the bar for Donald Trump’s speech on Tuesday at the Holocaust Memorial Museum was low. All he really had to do was show he understands that anti-Semitism is bad, and that the Holocaust happened mostly to Jews. He did that, and more. At times, his speech was genuinely moving. It was also disturbing in a very instructive way. Read more…

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How Trump Desecrates Memory Of Holocaust Survivors — Despite Fine Words

April 26, 2017 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Donald Trump ended his speech yesterday at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum by talking about Gerda Weissmann Klein. For good reason; hers is an amazing story. While being liberated by the United States Army in May 1945, Weissmann — then 21 years old, white-haired and weighing 68 pounds — met an American Jewish lieutenant named Kurt Klein. A few months later they were engaged. Read more…

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How Trump Could Get China’s Help on North Korea

April 25, 2017 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

So far, the Trump administration’s North Korea policy consists of declaring that America’s patience has run out, refusing to negotiate, hinting at preventive war, and hoping that China bails it out. In January, Trump—who is perpetually learning things that most other people know and then congratulating himself for having discovered them—announced that China has “total control over North Korea.” This month, after meeting China’s leader, he announced that “it’s not so easy” for Beijing to force Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear program. Still, he tweeted that “I have great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea.” Read more…

The Atlantic »

How America Shed the Taboo Against Preventive War

April 21, 2017 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

A hidden assumption underlies the debate over North Korea. The assumption is that preventive war—war against a country that poses no imminent threat but could pose a threat in the future—is morally legitimate. To be sure, many politicians oppose an attack on practical grounds: They say the costs would be too high. But barely anyone in the foreign policy mainstream calls the idea itself abhorrent. Read more…

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Is Marwan Barghouti The Palestinian Nelson Mandela?

April 19, 2017 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

In the April 16 New York Times, Marwan Barghouti announced that he and 1,000 other Palestinian prisoners were launching a hunger strike. It’s easy to understand why.

West Bank Palestinians are colonial subjects. Even though the Palestinian Authority has some power, it is not a state, and the Israeli military can freely enter the West Bank and arrest anyone anytime it wants. The prisoners now refusing food were mostly tried in military courts where proving your innocence is nearly impossible. As the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem noted in 2015, “A Palestinian charged in a military court is as good as convicted.” Read more…

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Why Trumpism Will Outlast Steve Bannon

April 17, 2017 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Last week brought a new conventional wisdom to Washington: Internationalism is back. Donald Trump’s military strike in Syria, his embrace of the Export-Import bank, his acknowledgment that China isn’t actually manipulating its currency, and his public humiliation of Steve Bannon sparked a rash of articles suggesting that Trump’s presidency may not signal the rise of nativist nationalism after all. Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, H.R. McMaster, and Gary Cohn won’t permit it.

But the balance of power inside a White House doesn’t necessarily reflect the balance of power inside a party. At times during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, moderates like James Baker outmaneuvered conservatives like Edwin Meese and Pat Buchanan. In his second term, George W. Bush preferred Condoleezza Rice’s foreign-policy counsel to Dick Cheney’s. Read more…