The Iranian Deal: Realism vs. Idealism

Obamacare has been so front and center lately—and will continue to be so because of its effect on everyone—that our foreign policy with respect to Iran has taken a back seat in the public’s mind. Foreign policy usually takes a back seat, as we’re nearly always more concerned about what we see happening here at home. Yet what happens here in the future is vitally connected to what’s happening over there.

Iran DealWe have blustered for years now about Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. Presidents Bush and Obama have pledged not to allow such development, the basis for that concern being the radical Islamic ideology that motivates Iran. The first country to be menaced by any nuclear weapons in Iran will be Israel, which is our only staunch ally in the Middle East. Turning our backs on Israel would be a betrayal of the highest magnitude, yet this new “deal” that the Western nations have just agreed to with Iran seems to do just that.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, calls this deal a “historic mistake.” James Carafano, in National Review, calls this “Munich II,” the classic sellout of Czechoslovakia by the Western powers to Hitler in 1938. The first Munich rested on the “ridiculous notion that Hitler could be satiated.” Carafano says it is  “equally ludicrous” to believe that Iran is really open to giving up its nuclear development. Sanctions were working, to some extent; that’s what brought the Iranians to the table. Now, in this new deal, we are easing most of those sanctions. Carafano then writes about the two different worldviews in our approach to Iran: realism vs. idealism.

The realists, he says, know that sanctions were only there for one reason: bring down this regime. Idealists believe that sanctions were the “magic button” that would make the Iranians reasonable. He continues:

The parting of the ways between realists and idealists is not about two different visions of the path to a peaceful future. In the case of this particular foreign-policy conundrum, the realist approach is based on a full awareness of whom the West is really dealing with. The idealists’ assessment is delusional. . . .

The only “fact” offered so far to prove that the pact will lead to something other than a good deal for Iran is the blithe assurance that the deal was negotiated by really smart people who know what they are doing.

Are these the same “smart people” who orchestrated our response to Benghazi? We also need to realize that President Obama has a soft spot for Islamic radicalism and a seething disdain for Israel. How comforting is that? He’s always been far more willing to negotiate with Islamists than with others he perceives as his enemies:

Negotiations

I, for one, am not in my comfort zone when I think about his negotiating skills and his promises:

Iran Nuke Deal

Obama is one of those idealists Carafano wrote about, who think the Iranians will see the light, and with whom we can negotiate in good faith. As he said, this is delusional:

Bridge

Then again, maybe we just don’t know how clever he and John Kerry have been in all this. Perhaps we don’t understand their trump card:

Secret Plan

Yes, that might do it—a sure pathway for the destruction of any enemy.

Egypt & Obama

It’s never easy to get Americans interested in what’s going on in other countries. Much of what is happening in the Middle East, though, is critical, and we should be aware of developments in that crucial area. Israel, of course, is the only solid American ally in the region, and it is continually threatened with extinction. If the Muslim extremists get their way, a new holocaust will take place.

Also high on the list for extinction in that part of the world is Christianity. What we’re seeing played out in Egypt right now is downright scary. Some of the news networks aren’t providing the whole story; Christian churches are being attacked and destroyed, and individual Christians are being murdered for their beliefs. This is persecution, plain and simple.

The primary culprit in these atrocities is the Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks to establish Sharia law over not only Egypt, but the entire world. Turmoil in Egypt during the misnamed Arab Spring led to an election that put a Brotherhood leader is charge of the country. Mohamed Morsi proceeded to put the Brotherhood’s plan into action, tightening the noose on Christians and moderate Muslims who were just too afraid to oppose him and his terrorist organization. Egypt was cooperating with Iran, which has declared it will wipe Israel off the map.

Finally, the military put a stop to the drift toward Sharia totalitarianism, ousting Morsi and clamping down on the Muslim Brotherhood. This has led to civil war as “days of rage” are proclaimed and casualties mount. Again, the main culprit is easy to spot:

Muslim Brotherhood

Yet this has put the United States government in an awkward situation. You see, the Obama administration had not only recognized the Morsi government as the legitimate government of Egypt, but seemed to endorse its actions. Now that the military is taking control, the people are coming out of hiding and applauding the removal of the Brotherhood. Signs displayed in the streets are not only anti-Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi, but also anti-Obama. The citizens rightly perceive that Obama chose his side in this struggle. The wrong side. This leaves him in a tough spot:

Sand Trap

If it appears he is lost in the world of international relations, it might be because he is. The American president, ostensibly in charge of the most powerful nation on earth, is powerless to do anything meaningful in that region. But he’s the one who put himself in this untenable position; he has no one else to blame.

Really Is Obama

His radical ideology trapped him. Most of the world has come to view him as little more than clownish. Unfortunately, the whole nation suffers from his reputation. This is a far cry from the adulation heaped upon him five short years ago. It was a foolish adulation then; those who cling to the earlier image have decided to remain fools now.

These Are Our Leaders?

Chuck Hagel was confirmed as the new Secretary of Defense yesterday. Forty-one Republicans voted against the appointment; four joined with all the Democrats to put the vote well over the top. Republicans who earlier voted for cloture and broke the filibuster are, in my mind, just as much to blame for this successful nomination as those who openly supported Hagel.

This is the same man who fell on his face verbally in his confirmation hearings, stumbling badly before sharp questioning. This is the man who has said the Iranian regime is a legitimately elected regime despite all the evidence of corruption and intimidation of opponents. This is the man who can’t understand why the Iranians shouldn’t have nuclear capability. And this is also the man who has made rather strong statements against our only ally in the region—Israel.

In fact, the radical anti-Semitic leader of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan, is now praising Hagel. He’s pleased that Hagel stands up to the “Jewish Lobby.” Who, in their right minds, would want Louis Farrakhan saying nice things about them? Somehow Hagel has accomplished that. But keep in mind that Hagel will not be making policy; he’ll simply be carrying out the policies of his boss, President Obama, another politician who has little good to say about Israel, and who feels far more comfortable in the Islamist world.

This “team” is rounded out by the new Secretary of State, John Kerry. He’s now on his first overseas assignment, visiting supposedly key allies, but curiously omitting some of the staunchest—no Israel or Poland on the itinerary. Kerry didn’t get off on the right foot when he stopped in the country of Kyrgyzstan; he invented a new name for the country—Kyrzakhstan. Shouldn’t the Secretary of State know how to pronounce the names of allies?

On top of that embarrassment, Kerry went to Germany to speak to students there. What did he decide to focus on? He told them that in America, even neo-Nazis have the right of free speech, and that is a good thing. Whatever one thinks of the limits of free speech, upholding Nazi free-speech rights in Germany is at least odd, probably stupid. Germany has banned the Nazi Party, and for good reasons. Germany is not America, and the history of Nazi Germany is anathema to modern Germans.  Jonah Goldberg of National Review responded to Kerry’s choice of subject rather superbly, I think, when he said,

I am all in favor of democracy promotion and singing the praises of free expression. But getting the Germans to be more tolerant of Nazi propagandizing is low on my list of priorities. Really, really, really low. Let’s see if he’s willing to give a similar talk about religious freedom and tolerance in Saudi Arabia. My hunch is that he’d be much quicker to respect the cultural distinctiveness of Saudi attitudes.

These are our political leaders. Pray that we survive their leadership.

My Teaching Ministry–Part V

The Lord has His times and places. Prior to teaching at Indiana Wesleyan, I had been an adjunct at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia. My teaching had been well received there, and I had hoped for a full-time position, but none was available at that time. But as my fifth year at Indiana Wesleyan was ending, the door opened—providentially, I believe—to return to Regent to teach in the master’s program in the Robertson School of Government. For me, this was the fulfillment of my academic dream, and I hoped it would be the place where I could hang my regalia forever.

Students at Regent who were seeking a master’s degree in public policy were earnest and dedicated. Many had left a career midstream to make this sacrifice of time and finances. I never had to labor to get their attention. My task was to be the historian in the department, offering courses that provided the historical background that was necessary for work in the field of public policy and government. I had the freedom to teach how Scripture should influence our views on the proper role of civil government. I look back on this time as almost a golden age with respect to the nature of the students I was privileged to teach. I still have strong attachments to many of my former Regent students. Not only was I a mentor, but I rejoiced to be considered a friend as well. My advisees met with me once each week for group prayer; this created a bond that remains.

Living in the Tidewater area also made for a more hands-on approach to early American history with the Historical Triangle of Jamestown, Yorktown, and Colonial Williamsburg nearby. Each year I took students to those sites; it was a highlight of two Saturdays in the fall. I even had the opportunity to help lead a trip to Israel and Great Britain, based on a summer course I offered on the roots of American government—found in both the Old Testament and the British heritage. This is the only trip I’ve made to the Holy Land, and I would dearly love to return.

In the classroom, I made the transition to PowerPoint presentations, which opened up a new world of possibilities, especially for history, as everything historical can be found on the Web.

One year I received an appointment as academic dean for the School of Government, but I was one of two associate deans under the primary dean. The position was laden with tremendous responsibilities with no corresponding authority. The university as a whole, and the School of Government specifically, underwent administrative upheaval in my final years there. The mission and goals of the School of Government began to change, and I no longer felt as tied to the program philosophically. I had spent seven years teaching these graduate students, and had loved nearly every minute of it. Although it pained me greatly, I began searching for a new position elsewhere.

Where did that search lead? That is tomorrow’s subject.

Through the Lens of Christian Faith

I’m grateful for the Thanksgiving break last week. It was good to get away, spend time with extended family and some “old” friends/former students, and kind of let the world do whatever it chose to do for a while without my involvement. Yes, I did check in from time to time to see if the world was still here. While on my hiatus, the following events transpired:

  • More layoffs occurred or have been planned by businesses since the election. The primary reason: the looming specter of Obamacare, which is threatening to destroy those businesses that can’t pay the increased costs. I see that some of our less-well-informed citizens are blaming the businesses themselves rather than the onerous regulations and cost associated with the Obama administration’s signature legislation. Our ignorance continues apace.
  • Hamas decided to declare an unofficial war against Israel. Tensions peaked, with an Israeli invasion of Gaza readied. Why did Hamas choose this time to act? Could it have had something to do with the election as well? They know they have an ally in the White House for four more years, a man sympathetic to their aims. Israel, on the other hand, is poised to suffer through another four years of perfunctory public pronouncements of support coupled with private disdain and contempt. President Obama will say whatever is necessary for public consumption while undercutting the Israeli state at every turn. Meanwhile, one poll shows that only about 40% of Democrats back Israel in their quest for self-defense. It appears the image of anti-Semitism that raised its head at the party convention is making progress. One wonders how long American Jews will remain blinded by the treatment their brethren are receiving from the political party to which most of them have chosen to give their allegiance.

  • Secretary of State Clinton and Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi hammered out a truce between Israel and Hamas—one that Hamas considers a victory. Don’t be surprised if this duo wins the next Nobel Peace Prize for accomplishing . . . nothing. After all, it’s been granted for doing nothing before. Right, Mr. President?
  • Morsi then declared himself dictator of Egypt, setting aside the entire judicial system of that country. He is now claiming one-man rule. Ah, the fresh breeze of the Arab Spring still inspires!

Yet despite all these developments, I see no sign that the American electorate is suffering any remorse over its latest decision. As I noted in a previous post, we are a nation on the edge, positioned to jettison our Biblical heritage once and for all. We no longer think Biblically; in fact, to do so is becoming precarious for those who remain faithful to Biblical truth. Biblical morality is increasingly considered a “problem.”

The society around us is attempting to divorce itself from the truths God has implanted within each of us and seeks to create new “truths.” Christian apologist C. S. Lewis, in his treatise The Abolition of Man, described pretty well the futility of any such effort:

There never has been, and never will be, a radically new judgment of value in the history of the world. What purport to be new systems or (as they now call them) “ideologies,” all consist of fragments from the Tao [Natural Law given by God] itself, arbitrarily wrenched from their context in the whole and then swollen to madness in their isolation, yet still owing to the Tao [Natural Law] and to it alone such validity as they possess. . . . The rebellion of new ideologies against the Tao is a rebellion of the branches against the tree: if the rebels could succeed they would find that they had destroyed themselves. The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of imagining a new primary colour, or, indeed, of creating a new sun and a new sky for it to move in.

The rebels ultimately will fail, but they will hurt and destroy lives along the way, and may drag an entire society into the pit as they proceed.

As I said at the beginning of this post, it was nice to take a break, but I cannot leave the field of battle for the hearts and minds of my fellow citizens. Another Lewis quote reverberates within me:

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

My pledge is to keep on faithfully viewing and writing about our culture, our politics, and our government through the lens of the Christian faith. It shines the light of truth on everything it touches . . .  and it touches everything.

On Flags, Arrogance, & Threats

In one of my posts last week detailing the case against Obama’s reelection, I wrote about his character. The most blatant trait I believe he possesses is an ego far outside the norm. I’m certainly not the first person to comment on the perceived arrogance of the man. In some cases, his followers have taken devotion to him to an extraordinary level. A couple of months ago, some of his campaign headquarters were flying this flag:

That raised the ire of many who saw it as a desecration of the American flag. There was enough blowback that this emblem soon disappeared. Then just this last week, the following showed up on Obama’s website for admirers to purchase:

Someone apparently didn’t learn the lesson. It also has quietly been removed. But it was there long enough for at least one cartoonist to draw attention to it:

I recall nearly four years ago after Obama won the election, whenever he would speak publicly, he would stand behind a podium the likes of which had never been seen before in American politics:

That also was unprecedented. He seems to enjoy the status of the office, if not the actual responsibilities. His spokespersons say he didn’t refuse a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, but the word from Israel is just the opposite. It’s a shame to have to say I accept the word of a country other than my own in the controversy, but this administration has been anything but forthright on a number of issues. Obfuscation has become more of an art than ever. We are told Obama has avoided his daily intelligence briefings consistently, even in the aftermath of the Libyan attacks and the murder of our ambassador. Clint Eastwood’s empty chair is seeing a lot of play lately:

Just yesterday, the president was in New York City as world leaders were gathering for talks at the UN. He sent Secretary of State Clinton to meet with world leaders, but he had more pressing matters on his mind:

Yes, trolling for votes among his legion of fans was far more important. The one substantive interview he did submit to was on 60 Minutes where he, without the aid of his teleprompter, stirred up controversy once again by calling the rising tide of unrest and protests in the Muslim world simply bumps in the road, and referring to Netanyahu’s urgings to take the Iranian nuclear threat seriously as “noise” that he intends to “block out.”

Does he believe at all that there is a legitimate radical Muslim threat against the United States?

For the sake of our security, he had better start believing it. For the sake of the future of our nation, we need to put someone in the Oval Office who is a true friend of Israel and recognizes the threat. There is one out there.

May it come to pass.

The Case Against Barack Obama: Foreign Policy

This is my fourth posting this week laying out the reasons why President Obama does not deserve reelection. I began with an evaluation of his worldview, moved to his character traits, and then showed how those applied to his domestic policies. If you missed those, I urge you to go back and read them. Today’s goal is to illuminate his foreign policy and—surprise—it once again reflects his worldview and character.

Surely you recall the 2008 campaign when hope and change included the tantalizing promise that the election of Obama would make all things right with the world. He would rectify all the ill humor and bad vibes emanating from the rest of the world because of George Bush’s policies. With the incidents surrounding September 11, 2012, this is more of a joke than ever:

During the 2008 campaign, Obama staged a massive rally/speech in Germany. The adoring throngs gathered to see the political messiah who would bring peace and brotherhood to humanity. I’m not exaggerating; that was the expectation of many. The fantasy even found its way into the heady atmosphere of the Nobel committee that preemptively awarded the new president the Nobel Peace Prize simply for the “promise” he brought. He had accomplished nothing, but they were in full-swoon mode. Characteristically for him, he accepted the award, even though it was richly undeserved.

Upon taking office, he sent Secretary of State Clinton to Russia with a prop—a silly “reset” button, signifying the changing of the guard in D.C. The button didn’t work.

When Iranian dissidents rose up against the regime that is rapidly gaining access to nuclear weapons and is boasting it will wipe Israel off the map, what was the Obama administration’s response? Virtual silence. The dissidents were suppressed. When the misnamed Arab Spring burst from the underbelly of radical jihadism, we found the President of the United States as its prime cheerleader. Unsurprisingly, the Muslim Brotherhood now seems to be in command of that revolution. Yet we hear no genuine warnings from this administration about the dangers of Muslim radicalism.

Then came our new September 11. Embassies attacked, an ambassador murdered, crowds chanting “Death to America.” The Obama response was to blame it all on a YouTube video of a trailer for a film depicting Mohammed in a bad light. Despite the ever-mounting evidence that this was no spontaneous uprising, and that it was a carefully orchestrated terror attack, administration spokespersons—all the way from press secretary Jay Carney to Susan Rice, our UN ambassador—deny that it had anything to do with American policy. The State Department even refuses to take any more questions on the issue. Americans are nervous, perhaps recalling our history with radical Islam, even prior to 9/11/2001:

But keep in mind, his defenders say, that he successfully carried out the killing of Osama bin Laden, and our drone attacks in Pakistan continue to take down Al Qaeda leaders. True, but I would hope any president would have followed up on the intelligence that located bin Laden, and would have taken the same action. He owes a great debt to President Bush for the policies that ultimately led to tracking down key terrorists. It also needs to be noted that Obama draws a line between Al Qaeda and what he considers legitimate “liberation” groups in the Muslim world. They are no better than Al Qaeda, yet he seems blind to that fact.

And then there’s the whole question of American support for Israel, our only real ally in the Middle East. From the beginning of his presidency, Obama has cold-shouldered Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Never has an American president treated an Israeli leader with such disrespect. The latest example is Netanyahu’s request for a meeting with Obama to discuss the latest acts of terrorism and the looming threat of a nuclear Iran. The response? Our president’s schedule is too full; there’s no time for a face-to-face meeting. And just what is filling his schedule? Fundraisers with celebrities. Appearances on the Letterman show and other “soft” media outlets that will never ask him the tough questions. The prime minister of Israel? What does he have to offer?

Another salient fact that has emerged this past week is that President Obama has attended fewer than half of his daily intelligence briefings. That shows a decided lack of intelligence. Further, just when the American military needs to be at peak proficiency, he and his team are cutting back on military preparedness. If there is one duty the federal government most emphatically has, it is to protect its citizens from enemies who are developing the capability to destroy them. I believe he is failing in carrying out that vital responsibility.

The Obama foreign policy is a direct outgrowth of his anti-colonial, anti-Western-civilization worldview. He has far more in common with the radicals who seek to attack us than he does with America’s heritage. That should give any voter pause. Tomorrow, I’ll summarize the week’s posts and offer a challenge to the American electorate as we face perhaps the most pivotal election in our history.