Quick Hits: Terror and Trade

While at the Aspen Ideas Festival, Secretary of State John Kerry says ISIS attacked Istanbul Airport because they are desperate and know they are losing. “If you are desperate and if you know you are losing, and you know you want to give up your life, then obviously you can do some harm” he said.

Good thing he cleared that up.


In the meantime CIA Director Brennan says [He’d] “be surprised if Daesh is not trying to carry out that kind of attack in the United States”. At least this time they didn’t call it “workplace violence”.


The House Panel investigating the Benghazi attack that left 4 Americans dead including the Ambassador, showed that there should be no doubt that Hillary Clinton lied to the public when she mischaracterized the attack as a protest inspired by a video. Then again, catching Hillary Clinton in yet another preposterous lie is, as they say, “Old News”.


For her part, Hillary Clinton says, “…it’s time to move on”.


Moving on to free trade…Without question, free trade agreements (including NAFTA) have been hugely beneficial, both to producers and consumers. These agreements have dramatically lowered trade barriers thereby generating increased competition, lower consumer prices, and reduced production costs. In addition, lowered trade barriers have increased economic growth, and lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.


Needless to say Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump continue to express their firm opposition. Hillary Clinton, who was instrumental in negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership, now opposes the deal she once referred to as “the gold standard”.


Well, let’s compare Donald Trump’s bombast with Milton Friedman’s analysis, which we can do with the You Tube video at this link. That should (but won’t) settle the question.









The Day (or Two) After Brexit

The sullen driver sits behind the wheel of his car while a policeman writes a ticket. In protest the driver points to the tree blocking his view of the Stop sign he just ran. He argues that no one was coming the other way; that it was raining; that he was driving below the speed limit, and that the streets are deserted anyway. He talks about all kinds of extenuating circumstances. Except all the empty beer cans he tossed into the back seat.


Talk about anything but the beer.


So it is with Brexit the day after as the good and the great scold the voters who ignored their dire predictions. Talk about anything and everything but the real issue.


We are, for instance, told about the resulting “chaos” in financial markets. Apparently a selloff of 3.5% in the S&P 500 and a fall in Treasury bond rates of about two-tenths of a percentage point counts as chaos. Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post wrote without a hint of irony that “Elected leaders were swept aside” apparently unaware that the only elected leader to be “swept aside” was David Cameron, who resigned because he lost the vote. So mighty was the sweep that it will take place in October after the Conservative Party votes on a new leader.


We are told, again by Applebaum, that as a result of the vote “The Dutch prime minister, the German chancellor or the French president, consumed with fighting off political challenges at home, will not have time to think creatively about their own economies…”. Those pesky voters once again have ruined the creative planning the EU had in store for them.


Sebastian Malloy of the Council on Foreign Relations chimes in to tell us that the vote may be the tipping point where “…The idea of the West finally ceases to be plausible…”. Not to be outdone, Jochen Bittner writes in the New York Times that younger voters opted for “Remain” while older voters went with the “Leave” camp and blames the loss on “…angry old men”. He goes on to say “The angry old men will not be mollified, their xenophobia cannot be controlled or channeled into constructive cooperation”. So, we are left to conclude, those who voted “Leave” are ignorant racists, who cannot be controlled.


The Bloomberg Editorial Board calls June 23 “A Bad Day for Europe”. They argue that the immediate risk to Britain’s economy is “grave”. And they fret that “If, against the odds, [the Brexit] succeeds other EU members could be tempted to do the same”. What a horror, Britain may succeed and other countries might emulate success. So let’s root for failure.


The comments of stunned elites give away the game. By all means obfuscate. Talk about anything but the beer. So they continue to (a) focus on the allegedly wicked motivations of “Leave” voters and to (b) frame the result in economic terms when in fact it was a political decision about the locus of sovereignty. The central question—the political question—that the voters decided was this: What is the proper source of political authority? Is it the nation-state, or is it the dysfunctional European Union, run by and for powerful bureacratic elites?


Britons clearly and decisively answered that the source of legitimate political authority is the nation-state. They said “No” to the sovereignty “pooling” of the EU that would inevitably serve to solidify the grip of the sclerotic bureaucracy of the EU over their lives.  No amount of name-calling can change that; neither can changing the subject. And it is undeniable that the stateless “experts” of the bureaucratic elite were rejected in a free and fair vote.


That is not to say that the economic ramifications of the vote are unimportant. To the contrary they are extremely important. If Britain makes the wrong economic policy decisions, its economy, and its citizens, will suffer. But that is true for the EU and its policy making as well, an obvious fact that apparently escaped the attention of the “Remain” apologists. Unless of course what they are really saying sub rosa is that more centralized command-and-control is what is really needed. But given the history, there is good reason to believe that Britain’s economic policy making will continue to be superior to the economic policy making of the EU. After all, Britain has been a leader in free trade for a couple of centuries. It has one of the strongest, most robust and innovative economies in the world. And its economic performance has been generally superior to that of the EU. Britons are right to ask why they should be taxed to pay for EU policy failures. Like Greece.


According to the latest data published by Eurostat, the 28 countries of the Eurozone had an employment rate of 65.6% in 2015. By contrast, the UK had an employment rate of 72.7%. For young people (aged 15 to 24) the employment rate in the UK was just under 50%, far higher than the 28 Eurozone countries that clocked in at about 30%. When it comes to innovation, think about Nobel prizes. The UK swamps the Eurozone in Nobel awards both in absolute terms and with respect to population. The UK has about 13% of the population of the EU and 25% of the Nobel prizes. It has won more Nobel prizes than any other EU member state. Expressed per unit of population size, UK citizens have been awarded 19.315 prizes per 10 million, more than double the EU’s 9.225. The difference is even larger when the sciences are considered alone. The UK has 15.928 per 10 million in population, which is 2.38 times the 6.691 awarded to the EU.


Achieving efficiency gains from trade does not require political integration. NAFTA, despite the nonsense being peddled by populist politicians, has been a roaring success in terms of economic efficiency and wealth creation. Unlike the 28 member states of the European Union,  Canada, Mexico and the U.S. have not surrendered their sovereignty. Their political systems are independent; each has its own (tradable) currency, and for the most part each determines its own fiscal and regulatory policies, subject to Treaty obligations. Their sovereignty has not been surrendered to a supra-national bureaucracy.


The UK has the political and intellectual infrastructure needed for continued success. It has a long history of adhering to the rule of law, maintaining political stability, and protecting individual and property rights in addition to an enviable record of scientific and artistic achievement. Not to put too fine a point on it, the UK’s record in these areas compares well to the major players in the EU. There is every reason for Britons to feel proud of their culture and to resist a statist one-size-fits-all EU bureaucracy. And as long as Britain keeps to a path of free markets under the rule of law—which is what they have usually done albeit with bumps along the road—they will continue to thrive. Moreover, because the British political system is far more accountable than the EU is, mistakes are easier to spot and easier to correct. The mandarins at the EU should be taking lessons from Britain when it comes to economic policy making, not the other way around.


Finally, take note of the language used by the mourners. Remember what Sebastion Malloy said: “The angry old men will not be mollified, their xenophobia cannot be controlled or channeled into constructive cooperation”. Control, not freedom, is the mission of the EU. It has been right from the beginning.


British voters have correctly responded: “No thank, you”.




The Progressive Attack on the Bill of Rights Continues

When the U.S. Supreme Court held in Heller (2008) that the second amendment means exactly what it says, namely that the people have a constitutional right to bear arms, it provoked a howl of outrage from progressive quarters. The intensity of that howl was possibly superseded only by the 2010 Citizens United decision, in which the Court held that the first amendment means exactly what it says, namely that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech”. Those expressions of progressive angst however stand in stark contrast to the cheers following Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) and later the Court’s discovery of a fundamental liberty right to abortion embedded in the 14th amendment under Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992).


Such is their commitment to democracy and free expression, Democratic Members of the House decided to stage a sit-in on the floor of the House in order to grind business to a halt and, not coincidentally, shout down anyone in the majority who dared to offer a different opinion. They have threatened to keep it up until they get their way and get a vote scheduled on legislation to deny 2nd amendment rights to purchase a gun to anyone on a “no fly list” or other similar law enforcement list. Keep in mind that similar proposals (2 versions by Republicans and 2 by Democrats) were offered in the Senate. All four failed to pass.


For the time being let’s put aside the juvenile antics and examine the merits of the case, bearing in mind that the Court found in Heller (see above) that the 2nd amendment to the Constitution guarantees individual citizens the right to bear arms. Note that the Constitution does not grant these rights—the Constitution secures a pre-existing right.


So how big are these no-fly / suspected terrorist lists anyway?


According to the ACLU, the no-fly list is a list of people the U.S. has designated as known or suspected terrorists. Designated, not adjudicated. It is a subset of a much larger list called the Terrorist Screening Data Base (TSDB) operated by the FBI Terrorist Screening Center. The TSDB is the central terrorist watch list that consolidates the files of at least 11 different government agencies and departments. As of June 2016 the list is estimated to contain about 2.5 million records consisting of about 1.9 million individuals.


According to the ACLU, extreme secrecy surrounds the No Fly List. People only find out they are on it when they are denied boarding privileges (often very publicly). Moreover the ACLU argues that the process the government has established  to challenge this blacklisting “… is grossly insufficient and violates the U.S. Constitution’s due process guarantee”.


All this falls under the Department of Homeland Security, a cabinet department of the federal government, with over 240,000 employees and a budget of $41.2 billion (net of receipts) in FY 2016.


So progressives want to deny a basic constitutional right (to bear arms) to citizens who are placed on a secret list by an anonymous bureaucrat where the existing appeals process is described by the ACLU as grossly insufficient and unconstitutional. And not to put too fine a point on it, the underlying assumption advocates presumably make is that the people on the list ought to be there.

The obvious question is: How would they know? What are the criteria for inclusion on the list, especially if it’s secret? If the people themselves don’t know they are on the list how are they to challenge it? And how well are the TSA and various agencies managed anyway?


The Department of Homeland Security has been a management nightmare from the beginning. As early as 2008 Congress found that the department oversaw at least $15 billion in failed contracts for projects ranging from airport baggage screening to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. That amounted to about 1/3 of the department’s spending at the time. See for instance, this article in the Washington Post back in 2008.  


Then there are DHS “fusion centers”, which are supposed to be terrorism prevention and response centers, many created jointly by DHS and the Department of Justice (DOJ). These centers gather information from government sources and partners in the private sector. The fusion centers arbitrarily hoover up vast quantities of information and virtually anyone can wind up on a list of suspicious people because someone decided to fill in a tip sheet.


To get how asinine all this is, it is only necessary to reflect on how a DHS fusion center put an ACLU communication on its terrorism map. Yes, you read that correctly. It turns out that the Tennessee ACLU sent out a letter warning public schools not to celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. In his report “We are All Terrorists Now”,  David Rittgers of the CATO Institute recounts how as result, the ACLU earned a place on the Tennessee fusion center’s map of “terrorism events and other suspicious activity”. And this is not an isolated example of bureaucratic idiocy. (Please note that this discussion only scratches the surface. There is a wide range of legal issues that comes to the fore over this type of information collection and policing, some of which are discussed in a forum sponsored by the CATO Institute which can be seen at this link.)


Which brings us to where we are today. A group of progressive legislators took over the floor grinding business to a halt for the express purpose of seeking a vote on legislation they knew would fail, and which had already failed in the Senate on four separate votes. The halt continued for a couple of days until the Speaker adjourned the House. The proposed legislation would secretly strip citizens of fundamental rights with little hope of successful appeal. Moreover the legislation would empower the DHS bureaucracy—widely understood to be a case study in incompetence—to eviscerate those rights through the back door by simply putting a name on a list. In secrecy no less.


So perhaps progressives who are so enamored of the privacy rights found in the penumbras and emanations discovered in Griswold v. Connecticut will re-consider their attempt to eviscerate express fundamental rights and act like a caucus instead of a mob. But don’t count on it.



Quick Hits 2

House Democrats, led by James Clyburn, seized the floor in a sit-down in violation of the rules to demand votes on proposed gun control legislation that is clearly unconstitutional. Similar legislation has already gone down to defeat in the Senate demonstrating that the latest temper tantrum is merely a stunt for the base. Representative Clyburn used to be known for his courage in fighting for civil rights before he started sitting down to crush them.


Donald Trump gave a speech from one of his buildings in Soho, New York yesterday in which, reading from a teleprompter, he called Hillary Clinton a “world class liar”. The fact that he used a teleprompter to deliver the speech is taken by some to mean that he is “Presidential”, and by others as evidence that he can read after all.


Meanwhile Clinton aide Bryan Pagliano, who was responsible for setting up and maintaining Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server, took the 5th amendment 125 times yesterday during a court-ordered deposition conducted by Judicial Watch.


The drums are beating more loudly calling on Republican delegates to revolt at the Cleveland Convention, less than a month away.


Mike Murphy describes the political malpractice that is the Trump campaign and suggests it is symptomatic of Trump’s managerial incompetence in general. He then goes on to point out that Republican convention delegates have the power under the rules to jettison Trump and select another nominee.


George Will, asking donors to snap their wallets shut, quotes Martha Bayles in the Claremont Review of Books. “There’s an old adage about a vat of wine standing next to a vat of sewage. Add a cup of wine to the sewage, and it is still sewage. But add a cup of sewage to the wine, and it is no longer wine but sewage. Is this what Donald Trump has done to our politics?”


Michael Gerson, former chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush, writes that a delegate revolt has become the Republicans’ only option.



Brexit: Will They Stay or Will They Go?

By all accounts the polls are very tight—within the margin of error—on whether Britons will vote to exit the European Union (EU) come June 23. The uncertainty has financial markets on edge and the usual cast of grandees is weighing in on what will happen if Britain votes to leave.


George Soros—the man who broke the Bank of England–warns that a Brexit could trigger a ‘Black Friday’ and a recession. Predicting that house prices will plummet in the event Wilbur Ross calls a Brexit vote ‘financial suicide’ for British homeowners. According to the L.A. Times, major American and European investment banks have estimated that Britain could lose 1% to 6% of its GDP in the event of a vote to leave.


All of which suggests we should remember John Kenneth Galbraith’s quip that “God invented economists to make the weatherman look good”.


The debate over the wisdom of a Brexit is poorly framed. It is at heart a question of politics, not economics. More specifically it is about the wisdom of retaining the sovereign nation-state as the primary unit in world politics or replacing it with a Supra-national bureaucracy staffed by “experts” with little accountability and even less transparency. This in turn is but one step away from the ultimate goal of the progressive project which is global government run by and for the same progressive experts who have made such hash of it in their own countries.


Leaving aside the sky-is-falling rhetoric of alleged experts, it is unclear why a Brexit should be such an economic calamity. After all, after a misguided attempt to do so, Britain never got around to giving up the pound in favor of the Euro, so there would be no change in the currency regime. Moreover Britain has one of the largest economies in the world, measured both in aggregate and per capita terms, and has been a leading center of global finance for centuries. There is a reason for that.


Britain has a long record of adhering to the rule of law, protecting property rights, individual rights, the right of contract, and maintaining political stability. That’s a lot more than can be said about France or Germany. It is hard to imagine why London would cease to be a center of global finance if Britain were to leave the EU because Britain already was a center of global finance for centuries before the EU came into existence. What, other than a history of political instability, does the EU offer that Britain does not?


The EU is saddled with trying to force an unsustainable political union on very disparate countries without a common language or culture. And it is trying to force political union through a one size-fits-all set of economic rules adopted by the bureaucracy in Brussels. And not to put too fine a point on it—the budget rules at the center of its policy of fiscal integration have never been enforced. Moreover, its monetary policy, set by Germany, bears a lot of responsibility for the disaster in Greece because it allowed Greece to borrow way too much money at rates that were way too low.


Very easy EU monetary policy in the early 2000s was certainly instrumental in the largely successful project to complete the integration of East and West Germany in the aftermath of the wall coming down in 1989. But it stoked the housing bubble in Ireland and Spain that later overwhelmed those two countries. Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Greece became economic collateral damage in the attempt to accomplish the goal of political integration. And Italy may not be too far behind.


The original political sentiment behind the EU is laudable enough: it is to prevent Europeans from reverting to form and launching wars with each other. But the effort assumes today’s geo-political map looks the way it did in the first half of the 20th century. Well, western colonialism is long gone, and no one seriously believes that France and Germany are about to go war with each other anyway. Why would they?


If European countries still think they need an organization to prevent more European wars, NATO suits the bill just fine.


Furthermore, there is no rational reason why the EU cannot continue to offer Britain the same trading terms it already has. Despite the nonsense routinely offered up by politicians who claim otherwise, trade is mutually beneficial (or else it wouldn’t happen) and is an unalloyed good. Were the EU to refuse to trade with Britain, or offer less attractive terms out of political pique, it would be hurting itself as well as Britain.


And it would give the game away. It would then be apparent to all who are willing to look that the real EU goal is to break a sovereign Britain to its saddle so that its unaccountable bureaucracy in Brussels can maintain and expand its political power over the lives of the 500 million or so people who live in its 28 member countries.


So what will Britons do? The polls appear to give a slight edge to the Remain faction; the betting markets (often more accurate) a larger edge. But polling in Britain is notoriously inaccurate; people often give pollsters the “respectable” answer rather than what they really think, and the betting markets may be influenced by published polls. Here’s betting that Britain votes to exit the EU on June 23rd.


And when the dust settles, we will look up to see that the sky hasn’t fallen.



Edmund Burke and the Trump Problem

The conventional wisdom has had it that another terrorist attack along the lines of San Bernardino would put Donald Trump in a strong position to capture the White House. But in the aftermath of the Orlando attack, Trump’s poll numbers continued the slide that began with his attack on a federal judge. Polls(Poll numbers from Real Clear Politics are available at this link).


The collapse of Trump’s heretofore gravity defying poll numbers has sparked an outbreak of panic among the Republican hierarchy—and not a moment too soon. The list of Republicans walking away from Trump heads north as the polls head south. The growing list now includes Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and Michigan Rep. Fred Upton. Former deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has announced he will be voting for Hillary Clinton. And John Kasich has yet to weigh in.


And it isn’t just Trump’s poll numbers that are collapsing—the Party’s poll numbers nationwide are hitting new lows. The good news for Republicans is that their collapsing poll numbers may be just the thing they need to get their act together and deny Trump the Republican nomination. As Samuel Johnson famously said, “When a man knows he is to be hanged, it concentrates his mind wonderfully”. And make no mistake; if Trump is the Republican Presidential candidate in November, he will lead the party to a spectacular loss both up and down the ballot.


With that in mind delegates to the Republican convention should consider Edmund Burke’s speech to the Electors of Bristol, delivered on the 3rd of November in 1774. Burke argued that Parliament “…is a deliberative assembly of one nation with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices, ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole”. And he said “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion”.


There is already a move underfoot to change the rules at the convention to “unbind” the delegates so as to allow them to vote their individual consciences. The delegates claiming to be conservative now have a chance to prove it by heeding Edmund Burke. They should vote to change the convention rules so that it serves its proper function as a deliberative body, and then select a principled Presidential nominee who will fight for limited government and individual liberty.


Enter the Libertarians

The Libertarian Party held its convention over the Memorial Day weekend and nominated credible candidates for the Presidential elections. For President they chose Gary Johnson, a 2-term Republican governor of New Mexico who served in that post from 1995 to 2003. For Vice President they selected Bill Weld, also a 2-term Republican governor, who was first elected in Massachusetts in 1990 with 51% of the vote and was subsequently re-elected in 1994 with 71% of the vote. Both are fiscal conservatives who slashed taxes and spending during their years in office. And both are staunch defenders of abortion rights.


To the extent that there is a unifying principle that defines the Libertarian Party, it is the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP), which in essence says that your freedom ends at the tip of my nose. Accordingly the use of force (except in self-defense) or fraud is anathema to libertarians. Otherwise libertarians are content to let the market function as it will without the huge regulatory infrastructure it is now saddled with. And libertarians are perfectly happy to spend money for self-defense, but they are loath to intervene in foreign affairs unless the U.S. is attacked.


A major point of contention among libertarians has to do with abortion rights. The party platform explicitly supports what it refers to as the right to life in that it supports “…the prohibition of the initiation of physical force against others….” The party also rejects state imposition of the death penalty. The platform says that it “[recognizes] that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can have good-faith views on all sides…” but that the matter should remain one of individual conscience.


In part because the negatives associated with the major party candidates are so high, and because the Libertarian nominees (Johnson and Weld) are serious people with actual political experience, the Libertarian Party is getting a look from people who would normally ignore them. The latest Bloomberg Poll has Clinton at 49%, Trump at 37% and Johnson at 9%.


So it is worth keeping an eye on the Johnson / Weld ticket if only because it may present a reasonable alternative to Trump and Clinton. And it would be an altogether wholesome development to have smart and committed libertarians on the debate stage with the major party candidates if only to let some of the hot air out of the Clinton and Trump balloons. But for the Libertarians to truly succeed they need more than a respectable showing come November. They need to build a solid political foundation so the Party can promote the libertarian idea, win elections up and down the ballot, and implement policies designed to promote liberty.

That’s a tall order in a 2-party system. But given the electoral disaster in the making, it’s certainly worth watching the Libertarians to see if they are ready for prime time.



Quick Hits…Republican Officeholders Supporting Trump

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said that Donald Trump’s comments about a federal judge constituted “the textbook definition of a racist comment” – but then Ryan went on to say that he would back Trump anyway.


Meanwhile Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pointed out that, “…it’s pretty obvious that he [Trump] doesn’t know much about the issues”. Later McConnell went on to say that he wouldn’t rule out rescinding his endorsement of Trump.


Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois has done just that.


Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has urged his fellow Republican senators to rescind their endorsements. Referencing Trump’s attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel, Graham said “If anybody was looking for an off-ramp, this is probably it.” He went on to add “There’ll come a time when love of country will trump hatred of Hillary Clinton”.


Referring to Trump’s comments Mitt Romney accused him of fueling “trickle down racism and trickle down misogyny”. In the meantime GOP donors are in revolt and the latest estimates are that Trump will only be able to raise about $300 million—far short of the $1 billion or so Romney was able to raise in 2012.


So the rational voter is entitled to ask the following of Republican officeholders: What exactly would Trump have to do to finally persuade Republican officeholders to abandon their support of his candidacy?

Hillary Clinton Gets One Right… Well Sort of

On June 2, 2016 Hillary Clinton made a speech in San Diego that was billed as a major foreign policy address. But it wasn’t really a foreign policy address so much as an attack on Donald Trump. The attack is richly deserved. The pity is that Trump’s fellow Republicans failed to make the case when they had the chance. Their timidity is the proximate cause of Trump’s capture of the Republican presidential nomination, and the awful possibility (however unlikely) that he could actually win the White House.


The most damning words Secretary Clinton spoke were not her own. They were Donald Trump’s. All she had to do was quote him. Consider: Trump has essentially invited Saudi Arabia, Korea and Japan to acquire nuclear weapons thus tossing 50 years of bi-partisan (and multi-national) nuclear non-proliferation policy right out the window. He threatens to abandon NATO; he said he would order the military to torture suspected terrorists and kill their relatives, and he said he would remain neutral with respect to Israel’s security.


If Trump didn’t exactly praise China for its massacre of its citizens at Tiananmen Square he didn’t find much fault with it either. And he seems to admire North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Russia’s Vladimir Putin for their “leadership abilities”. Trump, who says he knows more about the military situation in the Middle East than the U.S. military does because he “has a good brain”, has suggested that “maybe Syria should be a free zone for ISIS”, and has refused to rule out the use of nuclear weapons against ISIS which would, at the very least, lead to massive civilian casualties.


So Secretary Clinton has successfully made the easy-to-make case that Donald Trump is (1) an ignoramus (2) whose mental stability is suspect and (3) who should not be trusted with America’s nuclear codes, the threshold question for any presidential candidate.


But Secretary Clinton has not made anything close to a convincing case for why she should be taken seriously as a strategic thinker when it comes to foreign policy. Let’s not forget that when President Obama took office with Clinton as his Secretary of State we had two wars going on, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Now we have three—the first two plus Libya. And the ongoing disaster in Libya is the direct result of Secretary Clinton’s successfully making the case for intervention under the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine that was so fashionable at the time. And then there was pushing the “Reset” button with Russia, which in retrospect does not seem to have turned out all that well.


Obama’s drawing and abandoning “red lines” in Syria has left U.S. credibility in tatters, and that has not gone unnoticed by friends or foes. As the U.S. continues its global retreat, China ratchets up its claims in the strategically important South China Sea. Kim Jong Un tests nukes and ballistic missiles at an unprecedented pace. And let’s not forget that in 2009 the Obama Administration, including Secretary of State Clinton, accommodated Putin by pulling anti-missile defense systems out of Poland and the Czech Republic. But in the wake of its Iran deal, the Obama Administration has placed an anti-missile defense system in Romania, with plans for more in Poland no less, to protect against—Iran.


It is glaringly obvious that the world is considerably more dangerous now than it was 8 years ago. The West is increasingly vulnerable to terrorism. America’s credibility has been badly damaged. Important strategic relationships around the globe are strained. When it comes right down to it, the foreign policy record of the Obama Administration—and Hillary Clinton—is abysmal. The best she can say is that she is not Donald Trump.


And that is probably enough.