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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Mark Steyn On Israel/Gaza And Obama’s Unwillingness To Be Relevant

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JW: Like he does almost every Thursday, joining us on the phone right now is the Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. Mark, thanks for joining us.

MS: Hey, Jamie, great to be with you.

JW: So Mark, I want to start with what’s going on in the world, obviously. What do you make of how the administration is handling pushing for a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza?

MS: Well, what’s going on in the world is of very little interest to President Fundraiser. He’s got other priorities, and the rest of the planet, as I believe it’s marked on the State Department maps, can go take a hike. John Kerry is not wanted in either Jerusalem or Cairo. Obama is part of the problem. These guys have got real issues to deal with. Let’s put Israel to one side for a moment. Let’s put Gaza to one side for a moment. General Sisi, who’s the new strongman in Egypt, General Sisi, that’s not Putin’s characterization of Obama’s personality or anything, General Sisi is trying to kill the Muslim Brotherhood, who have big ties to Hamas. So he’s not interested in anything that makes Hamas look good. The Saudis aren’t interested in anything that makes Hamas look good. They want to stay on the right side of Israel, because they want Israel to take out the Iranian nuclear program that Obama has allowed to proceed. So in other words, everyone who matters in the region is not interested in listening to John Kerry or Obama. America has retreated from the world. There’s a vacuum of American power. And John Kerry is the physical presence of American absence. Nobody wants to see him. Nobody wants to do the handshake. Nobody wants to pose for photographs.

JW: I don’t know if you saw the news that the State Department is reporting that it looks like Putin far from being cowed after this tragedy of the taking down of the Malaysian Airliner, the Russian-backed separatists who allegedly did it, he is now giving more weaponry to these Russian-backed separatists, and maybe actually shelling some of the Ukrainian military from Russia. Does that surprise you that he’s not backing down?

MS: No, because I think what was, I’m prepared to believe that the downing of the Malaysian passenger jet was one of those horrible accidents that happens in the fog of war. I think nobody has a good reason for deliberately downing a passenger jet full of Western businessmen and Western tourists. But what happened since the downing of the jet is intentional. Putin looked at Obama on TV, not the first pitiful, embarrassing thing when he was doing his Friar’s Club shtick on the Thursday, but when he returned from the fundraising and did his serious bit on Friday, and he was putting it into international terms, he was saying well, this is an Asian airliner that came down on European soil. In other words, it’s the world’s red line. The reality is that half the passengers who were on the plane were Dutch, 154. 27 were Australian. There were British, there were German, there were American, there were Canadian, it’s the core West. You could actually make an argument it was a NATO flight that was downed over Ukraine. And his is supposed to be the leader of the free world. And he rejects that role. He doesn’t believe in the concept of the free world, and he doesn’t believe in America as leader of it. And that was what he was communicating. Putin got the message, even if the boobs at the New York Times didn’t, and Putin has acted accordingly.

JW: Well, speaking of the New York Times, I want to ask you a question about the media more broadly. It seems like they’re focusing on the Israel-Hamas conflict and the Ukraine, and not even looking at some of the other raging conflicts which some would say are more regionally important, and certainly more loss of life like what’s going on in Syria, in Mosul, where Christians are being ethnically cleansed. Why do you think that focus? What do you make of this focus?

MS: Well, I think there’s an element of racism about this, not just to be blunt. One assumes the rationale is that the Jews are expected to behave to a higher standard than, for example, the Syrians, or ISIS in Iraq, or the Egyptians, or the Libyans. The bloodletting going on around the world at the moment, half of all the people that have been killed by Israel in Gaza are big time terrorists, whereas for example in Mosul, where they’ve razed every Christian church and chased the Christians out of town, basically, we’re watching an ethnocultural cleansing going on. Basically, if you look at Libya, the same thing is happening. If you look at Syria, a huge chunk of Syria’s population, people talk about these so-called refugees in Gaza. You know, they’re refugees from something bad in 1948. Right now, 25% of the population of Jordan are Syrian refugees who fled there, and there’s not a word about it, because it’s only the Jews. That’s the thing. It’s like when Israel does something, clear the front pages, nothing else matters.

JW: Well, let’s go back through some domestic politics. The President was out in California earlier today giving a speech. I think we have the clip of what he said.

BO: A small but growing group of big corporations that are fleeing the country to get out of paying taxes. Well, hold on a second. I want you to…I say fleeing the country, but they’re not actually doing that. They’re not actually going anywhere. They’re keeping most of their business here. They’re keeping usually their headquarters here in the U.S. They don’t want to give up the best universities and the best military and all the advantages of operating in the United States. They just don’t want to pay for it. So they’re technically renouncing their U.S. citizenship. They’re declaring their base someplace else, even though most of their operations are here. You know, some people are calling these companies corporate deserters.

JW: What do you make of that, economic patriotism, corporate deserters?

MS: Oh, screw off. I mean, that guy, I’m not interested in hearing that. The United States has the highest rate of corporate tax in the developed world. All the countries that people think of as socialist basket cases like Scandinavia, Canada, have lower corporate tax rates. He’s referring to things like Pfizer, which anybody in New York knows for decades has their big corporate headquarters on 42nd Street. And Pfizer bought a British subsidiary in order that they could technically be relocated for tax purposed to the United Kingdom. And by the way, we’re not talking about you know, buying up subsidiaries in Chad or Somalia to take advantage of Somali or Chad tax rates. We’re talking about taking advantage of other more favorable tax rates in the rest of the developed world. And if you weren’t able to do that, you could imagine what the tax rates would be like in the United States. Borders give you choices. And you know, to modify the feminist line, I’m pro-choice, and I vote with my feet, which is what Pfizer and other people are doing. And the solution to that is to get rid, to lower the over-regulated, over-taxed corporate tax regime in this country. He’s going to get nowhere with that unless he wants this flat-line economy he’s presided over for six years to be even deader in the water than it is.

JW: Before you go, I want to get your perspective on, there’s been a couple of books about Hillary Clinton that came out this week. One talks about Bill still having mistresses, one they call the Energizer, the Secret Service, allegedly.

MS: Right.

JW: What do you make of this? Isn’t this reckless if his wife is going to be running for president again?

MS: Yeah, he’s got love nests all over the world. I had like a little, just on my travels, I was in Australia, and I happened to be around the corner from what they call Bill Clinton’s pad on the Queensland coast. And then I flew to Ireland, and he’s got some love nest on the west coast of Ireland, too. The first first gentleman of the United States so far isn’t being that gentlemanly. I don’t think this is going to be an issue. I think Hillary Clinton’s support is nothing more than name recognition. It’s very, very soft. And I would be surprised after this floppo book launch of hers if she actually goes ahead and runs. But if she does run, we’re living with all the usual distinguishing characteristics, and all the other stuff, for another four years. And I don’t know whether Americans want that. That 90s revivalism only goes so far.

JW: What do you think of the narrative of Rick Perry 2.0? People are saying that he’s reemerged as a serious 2016 contender. Do you see that?

MS: Yeah, I thought Rick Perry got a bit of a bum deal. I do, I generally, I mean, he’s ill-prepared on a lot of things, as a lot of these characters are. But he’s actually quite real, and he had a problem with back pain, recovering from surgery in some of those debates. When he’s on, he’s on, and he’s authentic. He’s authentic in a way that Mrs. Clinton isn’t. Mrs. Clinton is trying to, when you ask her a question, she’s trying to remember what official version is currently prevailing at this moment in time. And I think if Perry were to be the nominee, and you were to get Perry V. Clinton, he might not be able to remember how many departments he wants to abolish, or whatever it was that got him into trouble last time, but I think he’d be more than a match for her.

JW: Well, thank you for your insight as always, Mark Steyn. I know you’re not running for New Hampshire Senate anymore, but perhaps you should run against the Caliph Ibrahim. That should be your next political office.

End of interview.


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