Politics & Policy

Trump Doesn’t Have a Clue about America’s Enemies

(Mark Wilson/Getty)

The presidency’s most crucial duty is the protection of American national security. Yet, interviewed by Hugh Hewitt months into his campaign, Donald Trump did not know the key leaders of the global jihad. The man who would be commander-in-chief was unfamiliar with Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader who has been murdering Americans for over 30 years; Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s longtime deputy who has quite notoriously commanded al-Qaeda since the network’s leader was killed by U.S. forces in 2011; and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, self-proclaimed caliph of the Islamic State (ISIS) and a jihadist so globally notorious that many teenagers are aware of him.

EDITORIAL: Against Trump

Of course a man who wants to be president should make it his business to know such things. But even the casual fan who does not know the players without a scorecard at least knows who the teams are and why they are competing. Trump failed even that basic test, confusing the Kurds (a minority ethnic group beleaguered by ISIS) with the Quds Force (the elite operatives of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps).

The global jihad is complex, comprising terrorist organizations and abettors that include rogue nations and other shady accomplices. Their fluid alliances and internecine rivalries often defy the Sunni–Shiite divide. Matters are complicated further still by ideological allies such as the Muslim Brotherhood that feign moderation while supporting the jihadist agenda. The threat is openly aggressive on its own turf but operates by stealth in the West. A president may not have to be good with names to oppose it effectively, but he has to grasp the animating ideology, the power relations, and the goals of the players — and how weakening one by strengthening another can degrade rather than promote our security.

Donald Trump does not have a clue about any of this, careening wildly from vows to stay out of the fray (leaving it in Vladimir Putin’s nefarious hands) to promises that the earth will be indiscriminately scorched. The threat against us has metastasized in our eighth year under a president who quite consciously appeases the enemy. But the remedy is not a president oblivious of the enemy.

Most Popular

Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More