HH: Live with me, Mark Steyn, Columnist of the World. Hello, Mark, how are you?
MS: Hey, I’m great, Hugh. Good to be with you.
HH: Donald is not happy with me this afternoon because he thinks – I asked him some “gotcha questions” about Soleimani and the difference between Hezbollah and Hamas. Do you think those are “gotcha questions?”
MS: You’re a loser, Hugh. That’s my answer to you (laughs).
MS: They’re not “gotcha questions,” and you were very hard with Ben Carson when he didn’t know that the Baltic States were in NATO. There are things that you should know. He’s not good on the specifics. By the way, I don’t think it’s going to damage him the way it damaged Herman Cain – I can’t remember the losers from last time around – the way it damaged Herman Cain when he couldn’t remember Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan or whatever it was. I would like if a candidate was well-informed on these things, but you know, on the other hand, sometimes there are things are more important. George Bush, Sr. could tell you the name of the deputy tourism minister of the South Sandwich Islands and he rather touchingly thought that would impress people when he was on the stump in Iowa, and it turned out not to matter.
HH: Yeah, what I’m hoping is that perhaps by both probing Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina, other candidates will get smart about the array of bad guys in the world because it really is a mob of bad guys, and you don’t need to know who’s running al-Nusra and you don’t need to know who’s running Boko-Haram or even Nasrallah is running Hezbollah for a decade. You just need to know that there are a lot of bad groups and they all want to destroy Israel and us.
MS: Well, and I think the other important thing is to grasp the realities of it. In some ways, we’ve been naive over the last decade in the Middle East, and I think it helps to some level to understand that there are no good guys. You are trying to identify the least worst guy in some of these situations, and in that sense, knowing enough to know you don’t know enough about seriously to figure out who the good guy is. I think it’s actually quite useful.
HH: Well my first question – I’ll pose to you, to both them is this – do you believe that the Iranian accord that has now gotten enough to survive will in any way change the behavior of General Soleimani and Quds force?
MS: I think there’s absolutely no doubt about that. I think they are going to be on the offensive.
MS: I think they are going to be doing it with the wind of the world at their backs because what we’ve done is actually re-integrated Iran for no reason back into the community of nations and got nothing in return for it. And I think from now on, basically the Quds force is essential going to be an elite expeditionary force making mischief wherever it wants to, and it will have state-of-the-art weaponry paid for by American taxpayers.
HH: You see, that is what I think we need to hear from candidates about, and I think it’s why the Republicans failed to win this debate – that and the Corker law which is was just upside-down. Tom Cotton voted against it, and all praise to Tom Cotton. They should have declared it a treaty. They should have said it’s not ratified. It’s an executive order and – screw it – we’re turning it up. And not let the money go, Mark Steyn. It’s a disaster because the Quds force, it’s like – I know Godwin’s law, you never go – but, it’s re-armament of the bad guys who are depleted in every way, shape, form, and in every bank account.
MS: Well, I think it’s worse than that. I don’t like the Nazi and the Munich comparisons because it’s like Hitler is the only historical figure Herman Cain can even name. So I don’t like to go there, but there’s actually a difference. The Germans were careful until the war to observe – more or less – the norms of civilized relations between sovereign states when Lord Halifax flew into Germany and accidentally gave his hat and coat to Hitler thinking he was the butler. He didn’t have to worry that the British embassy in Berlin would be seized and the diplomats held hostage. That’s Iran. Iran seized those diplomats. Iran blew up a community center in Argentina. Iran took out a hit contract on Salman Rushdie and murdered his publishers because it is not like other states, even as other bad states. It’s not like Russia. It’s not like China. And the idea that giving these people a green-light and a hundred and fifty billion dollars and thinking that it will not shift the balance of power in the region in the worst way unlike anything seen since the Ottoman collapse ninety-five years ago. I think it’s just delusional.
HH: Now Mark Steyn, there is a heart-wrenching picture today of a Syrian boy drowned – I believe – on the island of Lesbos, Greece, and I talked to Sohrab Ahmari yesterday about his reporting from there. From Turkey, float thousands of people towards Greece. From Libya, flow thousands of people towards Italy. This is what the Obama “lead-from-behind” doctrine has brought about. But what ought Europe to do as a united response because it’s just massive?
MS: Yes, and they will be overwhelmed and what you are seeing now is different. They are supposed – continental Europe, I’m accepting the British Isles because they are not part of that – but a part of this thing called the Schengen Agreement where basically if you can get into one European country, you can run it well to all the others, so the idea is get a foothold in relatively poor Southeast Europe and track northwest to where all the welfare gravy train is, and the response of the Eastern countries – the relatively recently post-Communist countries has been far more – [phone cuts out] – really feel that their national identity didn’t suffer under half a century of Communism. To emerge from that only to be overwhelmed by Muslim refugees where as if you go the West, the things that Angela Merkel is saying and the things that German mayors are saying about seizing on occupied, private property to give to these refugees makes far less sense. In the end, that’s the problem. In the modern world, if you don’t fix a problem at [the] source, the problem will come to you.
HH: And so I think it means that NATO’s got to patrol the coasts and they got to stop the fleet. It’s like saying – I feel heartless that the boat-people should not be allowed to leave South Vietnam – but they’re in Turkey and they are in Libya, and I don’t know that Europe can A, risk the strategic danger of ISIS in the middle of all of it, or B, absorb the economic impact.
MS: No, they can’t, but they’re not serious. In Australia – which admittedly is an island continent – but Australia has had the toughest immigration regime in the western world and they intersect your boat before it lands and they will tow it to Christmas Island or somewhere else or Papua New Guinea and they will actually hold you in a detention camp there if you try to land in Australia. And when you listen to Angela Merkel, she’s just talking the usual “multi-culti,” happy-sappy talk. And the guys running these boats, particularly out of the Libyan ports – the boats are like ninety-five percent refugees and five-percent bad guys. And when they scramble onto European soil, none of the people who are there to greet them or process them have any way of distinguishing the ninety-five percent of refugees from the five percent of bad guys. And this is the “camp of the saints” scenario that a great French novelist laid out forty years coming true. You can basically read that novel, and what’s interesting is that not only is the description of the landings spot-on, but the passive reaction of the political class and the intellectual class he also got right, too.
HH: I don’t know the novel, Mark. What is it?
MS: It’s Jean Raspail. It’s called the Camp of the Saints, and the saints are the refugees basically from Africa and other parts of the developing world that wash up on the French coast – the Cote d’Azur – on the topless beaches of southern France, and the French intellectual class and political class have no idea what to do about it. They can no longer muster the argument to defend the integrity of French soil, and in the end it ends with the government collapsing and the saints just swarming ashore from the beaches and taking over France. And when you listen to the way Angela Merkel is talking, she’s talking exactly like the feeble politicians did in Monsieur Raspail’s novel forty years ago.
HH: Mark Steyn, always a pleasure to talk to you. SteynOnline.com, America. You can get Mark’s new book and read everything that he writes. That’s SteynOnline.com. The Camp of the Saints now on my reading list. Don’t go anywhere.
End of Interview