BEN WEINGARTEN

Reader. Writer. Thinker. Commentator. Truth Seeker.

Tag: Nuclear Weapons

My In-Depth Interview with John Yoo on the Future of War, North Korea, Iran, Free Speech and More (Video)

For the first episode of Encounter Books’ new “Close Encounters” video interview series, I spoke with former Bush administration Justice Department official and bogeyman laureate for the Left, John Yoo, on his new book Striking Power: How Cyber, Robots, and Space Weapons Change the Rules for War.

During the interview we discuss the future of warfare given tremendous technological advances in the way of robotics, autonomous vehicles and cyberweapons, how the rules of war help terrorists, Yoo’s views on dealing with Iran Deal and North Korea, how America is losing the “War on Terror,” the state of free speech on our college campuses, and much more.

13 Interviews that Will Make You Smarter on U.S. National Security & Foreign Policy

Over the last five years I’ve had the privilege to interview some of the savviest thinkers on American national security and foreign policy.

These discussions have covered critical subjects ranging from the global jihadist movement, to Iran, Russia and China, strategic disinformation and EMPs.

Below are what I think are some of the most insightful and thought-provoking of these conversations on such live and all-too-relevant topics.

1) Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Heretic

2) Andrew Bostom, Iran’s Final Solution for Israel: The Legacy of Jihad and Shi’ite Islamic Jew-Hatred in Iran

3) Victoria Coates, Special Assistant to the President & Senior Director for International Negotiations, NSC for the Trump Administration, David’s Sling [Transcript]

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Trump Reinvigorates the US-Israel Relationship Upending Obama’s Anti-Zionist Agenda

In the days since becoming president, Donald Trump took swift action indicating that days of Obama antipathy were coming to an end, through his symbolic and substantive appointment of staunch Zionist David Friedman as U.S. Ambassador to Israel, to his putting Iran “on notice” and imposing sanctions against it, and his reversal of U.S. policy on Judea and Samaria.

But February 15, 2017, the day that President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood side by side at the White House for the first time, may have marked the official end to the shameful Obama years.

I write about this heartening change for the benefit of all of Western civilization in a new piece at Conservative Review.

Here are seven fundamental takeaways from the recent Trump-Netanyahu joint press conference:

1. Mutual dedication to thwarting Iran and fighting Islamic supremacism more broadly:

Contrary to an Obama administration that coddled Iran and allowed Islamic supremacism to metastasize, President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu mutually agreed to mitigate the disaster that is the Iran Deal, including stopping Iran from ever obtaining a nuclear weapon and pushing back against its proxies like Hezbollah. Prime Minister Netanyahu lauded President Trump for his commitment to defeating jihadism more broadly, a fight Israel deals with daily in the form of Hamas, Hezbollah, and other terrorist threats. A common understanding of the nature of the Islamic supremacist threat to both nations, and Western civilization more broadly, is in and of itself a profound change.

2. Upending the two-state peace paradigm:

Turning the decades-old status quo on its head, the Trump administration indicated it would no longer be official U.S. policy to seek a peace agreement between the Israelis and Arabs of Palestine that takes the form of two states. As both leaders suggested, such an agreement could take many forms, but “labels” were secondary to substance.

3. The U.S. will not dictate the peace:

President Trump suggested that only a direct agreement between the Israelis and their Arab counterparts would clinch a deal. The U.S. will be happy to facilitate such conversations, including broader ones with Sunni Arab partners, but President Trump indicated a deal would not be forced on Israel by other parties. Moreover, President Trump appeared to endorse the preconditions Prime Minister Netanyahu put on such a peace, including recognition of Israel and its ability to adequately secure Judea and Samaria. Consistent with the administration’s prior statement, President Trump did not call the settlements an obstacle to peace, but did call for a pause seemingly in connection with forthcoming negotiations.

4. Recognition of Arab Jew-hatred as a primary obstacle to peace:

Both President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke about the pervasive fundamental Jew-hatred animating large numbers of the Arabs of Palestine, which has stood as a main obstacle to peace. Trump did not draw moral equivalence between the Israelis and Arabs, solely stating that both sides would have to make compromises in a deal.

5. Engaging with Sunni Arab partners:

One of the few silver linings of the Obama administration’s Iran-strengthening policy is that Israel and its Arab neighbors were drawn closer than perhaps at any time in the last hundred years given their common existential threat from Tehran. President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu pledged to work with such powers on areas of common interest, presumably including countering jihadists that would threaten their regimes and in context of a broadly negotiated Israeli-Arab peace deal. One such potential plan floated on the eve of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s trip to the U.S. involves creating an area for the Arabs of Palestine spanning from Gaza to the Sinai.

6. Ensuring protection at the United Nations:

Contrary to the Obama administration, President Trump pledged to work to protect Israel from the many hostile nations comprising the United Nations. Trump’s statement comes on the heels of UN Ambassador Nikki Haley’s rejection of former Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority Salam Fayyad’s appointment as the UN representative to Libya.

7. Rejecting the BDS movement:

Again contra the Obama administration, President Trump declared that he would oppose boycotts targeting Israel.

Prime Minister Netanyahu concluded the press conference by stating:

I’ve known the president and I’ve known his family and his team for a long time. There is no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state than President Donald Trump. I think we should put that to rest.

The positive rapport between the two figures appeared genuine, based on a shared worldview and mutual respect.

Watching the press conference, it was self-evident that the pall cast over the relationship between the U.S. and Israel under President Obama has lifted, and the U.S.-Israel alliance reset at an auspicious moment in history.

A rebooted and robust U.S.-Israel relationship will play a central role if we are win the fight to preserve Judeo-Christian Western civilization against the jihadist forces that threaten our survival.

Read the whole thing here.

Salon: A Spirited Discussion on Syria, the Sunni-Shia Battle for the Middle East and Russia

Salon gave me the opportunity to come on as the token conservative panelist in a discussion with host Carrie Sheffield of Bold and longtime national security/foreign affairs correspondent Courtney Kealy.

Check out our conversation on Syria, the Sunni-Shia battle for the Middle East and the broader proxy war going on between Russia and the U.S.

Carrie Sheffield sits down with Benjamin Weingarten and Courtn…WATCH LIVE: What is Aleppo? Don’t be like Gary Johnson. Here’s all you need to know about the crisis in Aleppo.

Posted by Salon on Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Featured Image Source: Salon/Facebook Live

A Response to Jim Geraghty on Republicans’ Willingness to Prevent the Iran Deal (or Lack Thereof)

National Review’s Jim Geraghty asks an essential question in a recent edition of his Morning Jolt that every member of Congress — not just Republicans — should have to answer: “[W]hat are you willing to do to prevent a mushroom cloud either in the Middle East or closer to home?”

As it pertains to members of the GOP, the proof is in the pudding: The party will prove pusillanimous — unwilling to exhaust every avenue to block an Iran deal disastrous for the entire West.

How do we know this?

Sen. Bob Corker’s Iran legislation in and of itself was a complete and utter abdication of Senatorial prerogative, and perhaps the crowning act of Failure Theater of this Republican Congress.

For a refresher, as Geraghty’s colleague Andrew C. McCarthy noted in April:

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Sen. Robert Menendez: Traitor, Sider With Tehran Hardliners, Teahadist. Kudos to Him.

In some respects, the indictment of Sen. Robert Menendez may have been the best thing to have ever happened for those who oppose President Obama’s appeasement of Iran in the form of his disastrous nuclear deal.

For the New Jersey senator — no longer forced to be loyal to the Obama administration that cut his legs out from under him by way of the Justice Department — was able to take a position on Iran that his craven colleague Sen. Charles Schumer would not: No to the Iran Deal and no to any presidential veto.

Following up on his under-appreciated but compelling statement against the raising of the U.S. flag in Cuba (perhaps the only other issue on which I agree with Sen. Menendez), the senator made an emphatic and pointed speech at Seton Hall University, formally declaring his opposition to the Iran Deal.

It surely must have stuck in the Obama administration’s craw.

From the address:

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Iran Literally Fired a Shot Across an American Ally’s Bow, But Obama Won’t Dump His Disastrous Deal

What, if anything, would cause President Barack Obama to step away from the negotiating table with Iran?

This is the question I find myself pondering in light of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy Patrol’s unchecked act of aggression on Tuesday against America’s interests in the Straits of Hormuz – an act that in a sane world would in and of itself put an end to the president’s disastrous nuclear deal with Iran.

As of this writing, reports indicate that the Iranian Navy Patrol fired shots at and ultimately seized a commercial cargo ship, the M/V Maersk Tigris, which flies under the Marshall Islands flag. Some believe Iran was even targeting a U.S. vessel.

An Iranian warship takes part in a naval show in 2006. (Photo: AP)

An Iranian warship takes part in a naval show in 2006. (Photo: AP)

In a helpful dispatch, commentator Omri Ceren notes the significant implications of such an action given that the U.S. is: (i) Treaty-bound to secure and defend the Marshall Islands, and (ii) Committed to maintaining the free flow of commerce in the strategically vital waterways of the Middle East — as affirmed just one week ago on April 21 by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf and Pentagon Spokesman Col. Steve Warren.

The U.S. fulfilling its obligations to its protectorate, and acting to ensure vital shipping lanes remain open are not trivial matters.

Further, this act can be seen as a brazen test of the sincerity of U.S. resolve, as it was timed to coincide with the opening of the Senate’s debate on the Corker-Menendez Iran bill.

Yet there is a broader and perhaps more important context in which to consider what Ceren calls an act of “functionally unspinnable Iranian aggression.”

Even if we ignore the history of Iranian aggression against the U.S. and its allies since the deposal of the Shah in 1979, the firing upon and seizing of the Tigris marks the latest in a long series of such provocations that Iran has undertaken in just the last few months. Consider:

This rhetoric and action comports with Iran’s historic hostility toward the U.S. since the fall of the Shah. Lest we forget, this list of atrocities includes, but is certainly not limited to:

Would Iran’s most recent actions in the Strait of Hormuz coupled with the litany of other recent and historical bellicose acts lead one to question whether it is in the United States’ interest to continue negotiating with the mullahs?

Put more directly: In what respect can the U.S. consider Iran to be a reliable, honorable negotiating partner?

Continue reading at TheBlaze…

America’s Progressive Foreign Policy Imperils Her Survival

Today the men and women who walk the morally decrepit corridors of the White House and State Department of our Republic-turned-social democracy are aiding, abetting and enabling evil.

We find ourselves at a time in history when all of our foes from Islamic supremacists to the Russians and Chinese are ascendant, while America at best retreats and at worst sides with the most dangerous of them.

Barack Obama delivers his statement on the interim Iran deal. (Image Source: Whitehouse.gov/YouTube screengrab)

Barack Obama delivers his statement on the interim Iran deal. (Image Source: Whitehouse.gov/YouTube screengrab)

Our enemies do not fear or respect us, our allies do not trust us and little indicates that the American people are cognizant of the size and scope of the perils that face us.

We are reliving Winston Churchill’s gathering storm in an era when it is questionable whether the majority of American citizens even know who Churchill is, let alone what he did. Many of those who do likely see him first and foremost as a dead white European male.

And unlike in World War II, today we are challenged by Nazis (insofar as Islamic supremacists are genocidal, Jew (and Christian) hating monsters who seek to dominate the world) and Communists (in their Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping-led manifestations.)

In the face of all this, America’s left exhibits two traits that together are fatal: hubris and ignorance.

Leftists have the hubris to believe that they can and should create a world according to their progressive vision – for the good of the people and their own aggrandizement.

Leftists have the ignorance of history and man’s nature that renders them unable to anticipate the dire consequences of their course.

Underlying their actions is the belief that all people are animated by the same goals and aspirations.

Yet different peoples are different. Evil cannot be appeased or assuaged. The world must be seen as it is, not as we wish it to be.

Continue reading at TheBlaze…

Four Reasons Why the Left Loathes Senator Cotton’s Letter to Iran

That a short letter penned by an Iraq War veteran and signed by 46 of his colleagues in the Senate would earn the ridicule, scorn and derision of the left, while generating wobbliness among the more politically craven members of the right, is a testament to its virtue.

The primarily pedagogic letter’s detractors have invoked the Logan Act, signing a petition calling for the prosecution of the letter’s signatories on grounds of treason. But little could be further from treasonous than publicly opposing a policy that legitimizes and empowers a mortal enemy of America and her interests.

This Aug. 21, 2014, file photo shows Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., as he speaks during a news conference in North Little Rock, Ark. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston, File)

This Aug. 21, 2014, file photo shows Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., as he speaks during a news conference in North Little Rock, Ark. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston, File)

Worse still, legislators who in actuality undermined American interests by negotiating with our enemies are mentioned in the same light. This list of shame includes: John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi among others.

The truth of the matter is that Sen. Cotton’s letter sticks in the craw of the left, causing it’s partisans to resort to ad hominem and absurd attacks. They do so primarily for four reasons:

1. Sen. Cotton’s letter forces the left to defend the indefensible

Whether addressing the congressional speech of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or the letter authored by Sen. Tom Cotton, the left rarely attacks on substance because it realizes the content of its opponents’ message is credible, and the character of the messengers is widely seen as unimpeachable.

The same cannot be said however of the deal that President Barack Obama seeks to consummate, and the parties sitting at the negotiating table.

Continue reading at TheBlaze…

An interview with Paul Kengor, Reagan biographer and author of 11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative

In connection with the release of his new book, “11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative,” reviewed here, we interviewed Paul Kengor, professor of political science at Grove City College, Reagan biographer, and author of numerous books including the 2012 title ”The Communist” (published under our Mercury Ink imprint) and “God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life.”

Our correspondence with Professor Kengor comes in light of a renewed focus on Russia given the goings-on in the Ukraine, years of economic stagnation and hostile in-fighting between conservatives and Establishment Republicans, among other similarities with the era in which Reagan rose to the White House.

Below we cover these timely issues and more. The interview, conducted via email, has been slightly edited for formatting. And again, be sure to check out our review and cheat sheet if you missed them too.

Give us your elevator pitch for why TheBlaze audience should read another book on Reagan. 

Kengor: Because this is a book on Reagan that’s crucial and timely and well worth their time—and it’s short. They will sincerely find great benefit in this one. I mean that.

We constantly hear Republicans of all stripes make the claim “I’m a Reagan conservative,” or, when asked which Republican they most identify with, they point to Reagan. But in fact, many to most are not Reagan conservatives at all. Many of them are liberal/progressive Republicans. So, what is a “Reagan conservative?”

I’m someone who has studied Reagan enough (some say more than anyone) that I felt I could and should and must take up the task of answering that question, especially during this battle within the GOP between genuine conservatives like Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Tom Coburn and what Reagan would have called the “Rockefeller Republican” types. There are far more Reagan conservatives coming out of the Tea Party than from the so-called Establishment.

Thus, with the 2014 mid-terms coming up, and the crucial 2016 presidential nomination coming as well, this project to define what a Reagan conservative is struck me as imperative. I should add, too, that Reagan was such a model conservative, really the prototype, that this book defines not just Reagan conservatism but conservatism generally.

When I spoke on this book at the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara last week, the executive director of the group, Andrew Coffin, said that this book is a kind of manifesto on conservatism.

So, I ask readers of The Blaze: What could be more needed right now as we engage in this battle for 2016? I think a short book carefully explaining Reagan conservatism and conservatism generally is one they should read.

Besides, because it’s a short book, it’s also very inexpensive—only something like $13 on Amazon. You can’t beat that. It’s cheap and quick but an enlightening read. You’ll benefit from this and will want to buy it for your friends, including your liberal friends.

Read more at TheBlaze…

 

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