National Security & Defense

The Corner

Mustard Seeds and Other Matters

A friend of mine was telling me last week about a trip she took to Israel, where she held in her hand a mustard seed: which comes up in the Bible. Something very, very small.

What could be smaller than a hummingbird egg? It is almost the definition of something small in the natural world — and yet just such an egg has held up a major construction project in the San Francisco Bay area. Work cannot proceed because the egg, the budding hummingbird, must not be disturbed.

Is there a relation here to abortion, and what a fetus is? Sure. I begin my Impromptus column today with this very matter.

I’d like to mention a couple of other things, too. Vladimir Kara-Murza, the Russian democrat, has been hospitalized again, in critical condition. Once more, he appears to have been poisoned. He fell into a coma two years ago. It looked like a poisoning — an attack, a murder attempt. The attack took place a few months after Boris Nemtsov was killed. Nemtsov and Kara-Murza had worked closely together, for democracy and human rights in Russia.

I met Kara-Murza at the Oslo Freedom Forum last year. He had sent his family out of Russia but chose to remain in Russia himself. Needless to say, I hope to meet him again someday. The news about him is pretty grim.

Critics of Putin — reporters, lawyers, et al. — have a way of winding up dead or near dead. They must be very careless. Also, many people are eager to let the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, off the hook.

Consider Donald Trump, during the presidential election campaign. Asked about Putin and political killings, he said, “He’s always denied it. It’s never been proven that he’s killed anybody. So, you know, you’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, at least in our country. It has not been proven that he’s killed reporters.”

Let’s hope that the Russian judicial system at last gets to the bottom of all this.

I discuss Kara-Murza in Impromptus, and I also talk about the alliance between Putin and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán. (Some call Orbán “Little Putin.”) They have met again, this time in Budapest. Afterward, Orbán said, “We all sense — it’s in the air — that the world is in the process of a substantial realignment.”

Yes, that is true. And we all sense it. Will the realignment be better for mankind? For freedom, prosperity, democracy, and human rights? Madame Le Pen may well win in France. Her slogan is “In the Name of the People.” I hope the people are ready.

Last year, during the campaign, I wrote something about the contest between Left and Right. A Trump champion said to me that there would be no more Left and Right — those concepts were becoming obsolete. Instead, there would be a clash between “nationalists and globalists.”

I might describe the new clash as pitting liberals against illiberals — and by “liberals,” I don’t mean baristas in Ann Arbor but rather Locke, Reagan, and those boys.

Finally, I’d like to mention a news item concerning the old, or still existing, alignment: “U.S. Defense Chief Mattis Reassures Japan, South Korea.” That is to the good, I think. I also think that Jim Mattis understands — understands what’s at stake. But the best reassurance would come from the president himself.

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