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China’s Ambitions

Tuesday, April 8, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel got an earful yesterday from his Chinese hosts on the PRC’s ambitions in the South China Sea.  Hagel appeared at a joint press conference with General Chang Wanquan, Hagel’s counterpart in the PRC, and got an earful according to the New York Times:

The minister, Gen. Chang Wanquan, affirmed that China would not be first to launch an attack over the territorial dispute. But he accused Japan of “confusing the right with the wrong” in its assertion of control over the disputed islands in the East China Sea, which are known as the Senkaku in Japan and as the Diaoyu in China.

“China has indisputable sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands,” General Chang said. He added that on the issue of what he called “territorial sovereignty,” China would “make no compromise, no concession, no treaty.”

He continued, “The Chinese military can assemble as soon as summoned, fight any battle and win.”

The good news is that Mr. Hagel did not back down:

At one point, Mr. Hagel appeared impatient, wagging his finger. “The Philippines and Japan are longtime allies of the United States,” he said. “We have mutual self-defense treaties with each of those countries” he continued, adding that the United States was “fully committed to those treaty obligations.”

Mr. Hagel accused China of adding to tensions in the region by unilaterally declaring an air defense zone in the East China Sea with “no collaboration, no consultation.” Such moves, he warned, could “eventually get to dangerous conflict.”

The bad news is that Mr. Hagel’s budget does not equip the United States with enough ships to deter Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.  That aggression is detailed in the wonderfully reported and written Asia’s Cauldron, the new book by Robert D. Kaplan, who was my guest last week.  The transcript of my conversation with Kaplan from last week is here.  No one who hear the interview, or read the transcript or better yet the book itself will have been surprised by the sparks at yesterday’s press conference.


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The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza On Chris Christie and Hillary Clinton

Monday, April 7, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza has a big story out today on Chris Christie and his rise in Jersey politics right through to today.  Lizza spends the first hour of the show with me, and you won’t want to miss the conversation about Christie –or about Hillary and the MSM’s disparate treatment of the two.

The audio:


The transcript:

HH: The biggest political story in America today is the one by Ryan Lizza in the New Yorker about Chris Christie, and the Washington correspondent for the New Yorker, Ryan Lizza, joins me now. Hello, Ryan, how are you?

RL: I’m good. It’s been a while. I miss the show.

HH: Well, I’m glad you’re back for this. This is a big story and congratulations, a lot of great reporting. I’m going to have to walk through this in a number of segments. I hope I can hold you for a few, a couple of segments here.

RL: Yeah, it’s complicated. New Jersey politics is complicated.

HH: Well first off, remind me never to cross George Norcross, and I bet Lee Laskin agrees.Would you tell people, let’s get a scorecard going of who Norcross is…

RL: Yeah.

HH: …Loretta Weinberg, Wildstein, Joe D., tell them about the cast of characters here.

RL: There are a lot of characters. I mean, it’s like, so you know, Jersey politics, you know, Christie obviously is in a Democratic state, and the legislature is Democratic. And the two most important, I mean, this phrase sounds pejorative, but this is what everyone in New Jersey calls them, and this is what the call themselves, the two Democratic political bosses in the state are Joe Divencenzo, who’s a county executive in Essex County, that’s where Newark is, and it’s the most Democratic county in the state. That’s in North Jersey just west of Manhattan. And then in South Jersey, there’s a guy named George Norcross. And he’s based in Camden, you know, on the other side of the river from Philadelphia. And he sort of runs the Democrats, the Democratic Party in South Jersey. And together, those two guys are the most powerful political brokers in the state on the Democratic side. And they are the two people that if Christie wanted to get anything accomplished when he became governor, he essentially had to work with, because they control blocs of votes in both the assembly and the senate. So to understand New Jersey politics, and to understand how Chris Christie, his sort of climb in Jersey politics, you kind of have to understand that system, and that’s why I focus on, I spend a lot of the piece focusing on those two characters.

HH: Now that may be familiar to, like, my AM970 The Answer listeners in New York…

RL: Exactly.

HH: And it might be familiar to my WNTP listeners in South Jersey and Philadelphia, but to the rest of the country, the idea that there are these two guys, Joe D. and George Norcross, who are both Democrats, who are, they have, they’ve entered into a deal with Chris Christie on how to run Jersey. That’s a spectacular story, and I just don’t think that’s generally well understood, do you? Continue Reading

What Hillary Said And Didn’t Say. What Hillary Was Asked And Wasn’t Asked.

Sunday, April 6, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

My Monday Washington Examiner column reviews reactions to three interviews conducted last.

I offered the questions in two of them –one with Florida Senator Marco Rubio (audio and transcript here) and one with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (audio and transcript here).

The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman sort of interviewed Hillary Clinton –he certainly did not pose difficult questions or press for news-making responses.  The exchange –transcript here– barely generated a ripple.

By contrast, a Jeb Bush speech on Sunday that touched on 2016 kicked up lots of dust, as the New York Times’ Peter Baker notes.

“News” was generated by Bush and Rubio, not by Jindal and Clinton.  The reasons for the various reactions to the various interviews/speeches/conversations are in themselves interesting reflections of how the elite media views the run-up to 2016.

GOP would-be candidates only generate sparks when they are both (1) thought to be serious contenders and (2) say something to do with a rival or the horserace aspects of the contest.  Thus the Rubio interview drew a lot of coverage because it was understood by some to contain a knock on Senator Rand Paul and commentary on Spanish language media.

Jindal’s chat with me generated no coverage despite some very interesting ground covered –Pope Francis, the rise in people decline to have their children receive vaccine immunization– largely because (in my opinion) MSM doesn’t think he has a chance of winning and MSM is not interested in substantive critiques of Obamacare.

Jeb Bush will be the instant front-runner if he declares, so everything he says gets put under the microscope, and he gets tough questions –for example, about Common Core– when he appears on interview shows.  The line-by-line scrutiny of Sunday’s speech was thus to be expected.

Hillary, in contrast to MSM interest in the sayings of Bush and Rubio, gets the Jindal treatment.  No one pays much attention to the specifics.

I’ll be talking about the “why” of that on Monday’s show, but first an example of it.

Here is one exchange from her conversation with Friedman:

CLINTON: Tom, if I could just add. you know, for many of us, and I, before the lights went in my eyes, I could actually see people I knew out there, but for many of us, the argument for women’s equality, for women’s rights, was first and foremost a moral argument, right? And it was a political argument, but I think where it is now, as an economic argument, is, in many respects, the maturing of the case that women’s rights are human rights, but also a very important way of enlisting greater support. you know, you are well known for your writing about, you know, the world is flat. Well, it can’t really be flat if you have half the population, either discouraged from or discriminated against when it comes to economic activity, because you will not be as productive as you would otherwise.

FRIEDMAN: I think you’ve talked about it: It’s not only smart, it’s strategic.

CLINTON: It is. It’s very strategic, and where women are more equal, you have less instability, fewer conflicts, greater democracy and accountable government. you know, these go hand in hand. So part of what…



CLINTON: …Part of what Christine has done, and I will toot her horn, the IMF has only recently begun looking at these statistics, because the IMF has these three principle missions. Governments listen to the IMF. So when they make the case that increasing women’s access to and full participation in the economy will raise your Gross Domestic Product, and that’s true even in the United States.


CLINTON: It’s not just true somewhere else. I mean, the percentages are not as great here, but even in the United States, what we’re learning, and you know, Cheryl Sandberg(?) with Lean In(?), a report out of Google in the last 48 hours, the way women are treated is often now much subtler, but no less damaging, not only for the individual woman, but for the economy as a whole. And that’s a profound message that I hope more and more people and institutions will help us make.



FRIEDMAN: Just go a little from the public to the more personal. Is there still a double standard in the media about how we talk about women in public life?

Then it is off to the personal, but look in vain for one word about Afghanistan, where if the U.S. completes its scamper and the Taliban triumph in return, the “human rights of women” in that country will return to among the worst in the world.  As Friedman conducted this conversation, Afghanistan was on the cusp of a hugely important vote in which millions of women participated, exercising a basic right that will be denied them if the arbitrary deadline imposed by President Obama during Hillary’s tenure as Secretary of State results in a collapse of the U.S.-and-NATRO supported regime and a return of a violent-towards-and-often-deadly-for-women regime.

A few minutes later Friedman asked as gently as possible for Hillary’s self-assessment of her tenure at State.  Before blowing him off with a “read my book” wave of the hand, Hillary said this:

Look, I really see my role as Secretary, and in fact, leadership in general in a democracy, as a relay race. I mean, you run the best race you can run, you hand off the baton. Some of what hasn’t been finished may go on to be finished, so when President Obama asked me to be Secretary of State and I agreed, we had the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, we had two wars, we had continuing threats from all kinds of corners around the world that we had to deal with, so it was a perilous time, frankly. And what he said to me was, Look, I have to be dealing with the economic crisis, I want you to go out and, you know, represent us around the world. And it was a good division of labor because we needed to make it clear to the rest of the world that we were going to get our house in order. We were going to stimulate and grow and get back to positive growth and work with our friends and partners. So I think we did that. I’m very proud of the stabilization and the, you know, really solid leadership that the administration provided, that I think now leaves us to be able to deal with problems like Ukraine, because we’re not so worried about a massive collapse in Europe, and China trying to figure out what to do with all their bond holdings and all of the problems we were obsessed with. I think we really restored American leadership in the best sense. That, you know, once again, people began to rely on us, to look at us as you know, setting the values, setting the standards. I just don’t want to lose that, because we have a you know, dysfunctional political situation in Washington. And then of course a lot of particulars, but I am finishing my book so you’ll be able to read all about it. Haha.

FRIEDMAN: I think you also laid the predicate for the Iran negotiations. Without those sanctions… it’s something people don’t see. But I think it was very very important.


CLINTON: Well, you know, I write, obviously, a whole chapter about this, because this is the kind of slow boring of hard boards that Max Weber(?) talks about with politics, but which also applies to diplomacy. It is painstaking, microscopic advantages. And putting together the international coalition to impose tough sanctions on Iran is what eventually changed the calculus inside the Iranian government, and brought them to the negotiating table. Now where it goes from here, we have to wait and see. But it took an enormous amount of effort on the part of a lot of us to put that into motion, so yes, it’s part of the work that we did.

Iraq approaches elections at month’s end, and the women of that country could see enormous hardship if the regime shatters and civil war returns, a result much more likely because Hillary’s State Department could not negotiate an extension or amendment to the 2008 Status of Forces Agreement which led to the sudden withdrawal of all American forces from that country in 2011 and a surge in instability since.  (“SOFAs” are not the exclusive province of State, but along with DOD, State has the lead role and the failure of 2011 was at least in part Hillary’s.) The women of Syria, Libya and Lebanon are also living with the consequences of Hillary’s statecraft.

Hillary should be getting hardball questions about the world she helped create and her answers should be generating lots of news.  She isn’t and they aren’t.  That’s because MSM is blocking for her even as it blocked for President Obama in 2008 and 2012.  That’s just the way it is, and conservatives have grown used to it.

But this election is unlike any other Hillary has ever contemplated because no matter how little she may be pressed on her record at State by Thomas Friedman, every day is another day where serious journalists might get close enough to begin –just begin– the long and close inspection of her record, juxtaposed at every step with the reality of the world, not the fantasy sports league world of elite media wishing only to believe that global climate change is what makes the world safer for women, and that the people of Crimea, like those of Syria and many other places, don’t matter much to American voters.  “What difference at this point does it make?” many of her fans in MSM will ask (in very different way of course.)  All the difference in the world the real journalists will answer.


Afghans Voting By The Millions

Sunday, April 6, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The threats by the Taliban did not stop millions of Afghans from voting for a post-Karzai government.

As with every election in Iraq –the next one is April 30– the legacy of America’s involvement in both countries grows more secure.  President Obama has done little to assist Iraq in its effort to hold on to representative government, and his desire to scamper on Afghanistan is evident as well, but large majorities in both countries strive to hold on to self-government, which was the gift America gave them thanks to the force of the American military and the leadership of George W. Bush.

By contrast, Syria is a nightmare, Lebanon teetering and Egypt after two convulsions headed under new leadership –soon to be elected– into Russia’s sphere.  Oh, and the “Middle East Peace talks” are on life support.

The Obama/Hillary narrative –most recently expressed by the former Secretary of State to Thomas Friedman– is that they “restored American leadership” in the world.  This side-splitter gets a referendum in 2014 and a final verdict in 2016.  If Hillary hopes to succeed President Obama, she has to be urging him privately to throw everything into maintaining Afghanistan self-rule and returning Egypt to friendly relations with the U.S.

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