Let’s start off Thursday with some good news.
Abdelhamid Goes AbdelhaBOOM
BOOM. Gone. “The ringleader in last week’s bloody terrorist attacks in Paris was killed in a pre-dawn raid Wednesday on an apartment building north of the French capital, the Paris prosecutor’s office announced Thursday.”
Authorities zeroed in on a building in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis after picking up phone conversations indicating that a relative of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who authorities believe coordinated the shootings and bombings that killed 129 people, may have been there, a Belgian counterterrorism official said.
The French authorities aren’t using the light touch anymore: “Police fired around 5,000 rounds of ammunition in the confrontation and used strong munitions that spurred a floor to collapse.”
Looking at the big picture, Ross Douthat, “Eurabia” skeptic, admits the outlook for Europe darkened quite a bit since . . . well, the beginning of the Obama era:
In the details things definitely look somewhat more . . . well, challenging for Europe than they did in 2009.
For instance: We didn’t know then that — thanks largely to the folly of the Euro — the Great Recession would turn into a permanent slump in many parts of Europe, with particularly grim consequences for the unemployment rate in the Parisian banlieues, their much-in-the-news Belgian counterparts, and other areas where Western countries were already struggling to assimilate mostly-Muslim immigrant populations.
We didn’t know then that the Arab Spring would turn into a bloodbath and birth multiple overlapping refugee crises; we also didn’t know that Angela Merkel would choose charity over cautionand set off a scramble for the German frontier, a move whose long-term political and demographic effects are presently unforeseeable.
We didn’t know that ISIS would emerge as a beacon for European-born radicals, creating a two-way transmission belt between the West and Islamist strongholds and drawing Western powers back into Middle Eastern war. We didn’t know that Putin’s Russia would take the course it’s taken, creating a foreign inspiration for and patron of the right-wing, nationalist backlash against mass immigration and the European project currently roiling continental politics.
The Bush-era approach to terrorism — invading Afghanistan and toppling the Taliban, enacting the Patriot Act, setting up the prison at Guantanamo Bay, invading Iraq, waterboarding, black sites, extraordinary rendition — was sweeping, controversial . . . a bunch of attempted game-changers. We can argue the effectiveness of these choices, but they were big moves, designed to disrupt those who wanted to kill us in a big way.
The Obama-era approach, largely embraced by Europe’s political leadership — drone strikes, small-scale training if Syrian rebels, 50 special-operations troops deployed, forgotten “red lines,” “soft power”, “leading from behind,” perpetual calls for a political solution to Syria – is small-ball, incremental, risk-averse. Use intelligence; use small, targeted military strikes; rely on good police work. It’s much less controversial . . . the problem is, it doesn’t work nearly as well as the public needs.
The Inevitable End-of Year Request for Help
Yup, we’re asking readers for support again. (Cue everybody declaring they would never donate to a magazine that wrote [insert gripe here].) I know. It stinks. It feels like I’ve been nagging you and nagging you to buy books… and it feels that way because I have. Now I’m asking, hey, can you kick in some to keep NR going strong?
It’s fascinating to see the critics of National Review say, “They’re a failing magazine, they’re about to go out of business, they’re out begging for donations!” Very few political magazines ever make any money. If not making a profit was enough to stop National Review, it would have launched and ceased publication in 1955. Ask John F. Kennedy Jr. how hard it is to make money with a political magazine. Newsweek ceased publication for a while. The much-celebrated, much-emulated Spy left the scene. Heck, even Trump magazine went under after a few years.
William F. Buckley said National Review was founded to make a point, not a profit. (I’m sure there are times when the suits wish we hadn’t followed those words with quite so much dedication.) We could put scantily-clad celebrity photos on the cover if we wanted to boost newsstand sales. Circulation is still north of 130,000, which is really good for a political magazine. The outlook for ad sales is tough all over the magazine and online journalism business; some money comes in from the cruises and other events, but National Review has always depended upon the generous spirit of its readers and fans.
So for everyone who has supported, National Review, thank you. And enjoy an animated Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Barry Goldwater, and William F. Buckley singing and dancing to celebrate six decades of NR:
‘If You’re in Elected Office, Then I Discount What You’re Saying’
Some people didn’t like yesterday’s unhinged rant declaring the GOP electorate “stupid” because it didn’t bother to give Bobby Jindal a long, serious look as a presidential option.
Here’s a bit of further evidence for my contention that some corners of the GOP-primary electorate are evaluating candidates through a criteria that can fairly be called “stupid”:
Voters just didn’t care—in part, because their disgust with the political system has made them mistrustful of anything an elected official[sic]. Wes Anderson, a top strategist and pollster for the Jindal campaign, said focus groups and surveys conducted by the campaign showed that voters liked the individual parts of Jindal’s record. They just reflexively didn’t believe him when he talked about it.
“In this very strange and convoluted election cycle, the Republican primary voters have said, ‘If you’re in elected office, then I discount what you’re saying,’” said Anderson.
He added: “If a politician is telling them they’ve done good things, they’re not listening.”
See, that’s stupid. We can dance around this, and say that this attitude reflects deep dissatisfaction with Washington, a fed-up fury with the reflexive dishonesty seen during the Obama administration, a hunger for authenticity, and all that, but if you automatically believe that anything any Republican elected official says is a lie, well then, you’re stupid. If a governor says, “I signed X bill into law,” you can go and check that if you’re feeling skeptical. If a Republican governor says something like, “Per capita state spending has fallen from $2,089 in 2009 to $1,883 in 2015, a decrease of 10 percent, while per capita state spending grew nationally by 8.5 percent during the same time period,” you can go and verify those figures. These aren’t state secrets. This isn’t alchemy.
We’ve been making some excuses for some of our voters. Someone said to me yesterday, “The problem with wonks is that they don’t see the forest for the trees.” Actually, I think some people just never want to bother looking at the trees.
ADDENDA: Nag, nag, nag . . .