Jim Geraghty of National Review and Rich McFadden of Radio America feeling optimistic after a recent poll shows that Republican Karen Handel has a slim lead over Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff in the Georgia runoff election. They also praise the Supreme Court which ruled unanimously in favor of protecting trademarks that some parties may consider offensive or disparaging. And they applaud the U.S. military as they down the third pro-Syrian regime aircraft this month, an action which prompted a harsh Russian response.
‘The Obama Era in American Foreign Policy Is Over’
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton is praising President Trump for ordering a missile strike against a key Syrian airfield in response to Syria’s latest use of chemical weapons against it’s own people, and Bolton says it tells the rest of the world that this administration sees the world much differently than the last one.
“The Obama era in American foreign policy is over and there’s a president in the White House with a very different worldview,” said Bolton, pointing to Obama’s repeated threats of military action in response to using chemical weapons.
He says the Syrians, Russians, and Iranians clearly didn’t expect Trump to act so decisively.
“I think they’re so stunned that Trump acted, given the performance of Obama over the years, saying that that he would view even the movement of chemical weapons as a red line and not enforcing it,” said Bolton.
On Thursday, Trump green-lighted the launch of 59 Tomahawk Cruise Missiles from American ships in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The missiles targeted Shayrat Air Base, the installation from which the latest chemical weapons attacks were launched.
Reaction has not fallen along traditional lines. Mainstream Republicans and many liberals are hailing the decision, while some of Trump’s most ardent supporters during the campaign were very critical.
Bolton believes it was the right call.
“Anytime you have an authoritarian regime like this that joins a treaty like the Chemical Weapons Convention, says it will give up these weapons of mass destruction and lies about it and uses the weapons, that is a direct threat to the national security of the United States,” said Bolton.
He is also hopeful that other bad actors around the world will act differently when they see the consequences of Syria’s behavior.
“It’s important around the world that people know that we’re simply not going to tolerate countries entering these treaties and then violating them by using weapons against innocent civilians. I think it’ll have an impact well beyond Syria. I think North Korea and Iran, in particular, should draw a lesson from this. I think China and Russia should as well,” said Bolton.
But is this an isolated strike or the start to a more entangled involvement in the region once again? Bolton says Trump’s actions are unlikely to trigger a slippery slope of U.S. engagement. He also says the region is about to look a bit differently and the U.S. must be positioned well.
“We’re going to defeat ISIS, hopefully in a short period of time, maybe by the end of the year. We need to think ahead to what the Middle East is going to look like post-ISIS and I certainly hope it does not include a Russian airbase at Latakia in Syria, which the Obama administration allowed them to have,” said Bolton.
Bolton says this episode should make it clear that assertions of Trump being a Vladimir Putin stooge were grossly unfounded.
“I think this is very interesting commentary for all those in Washington that basically argued that Trump was a Manchurian candidate with his strings pulled by Moscow. That’s not quite the way this has worked out,” said Bolton.
The timing of the strike played out in response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons, but Bolton says launching the mission while the Chinese president is in the U.S. sends a direct message about North Korea as well.
“It was more than an amazing coincidence that President Xi Xinping of China was in Mar-A-Lago with President Trump when he decided on the airstrike against Syria, certainly people have looked at that possibility with respect to North Korea,” said Bolton.
He says there is great urgency for Trump and Xi to act on North Korea as the communist nation’s nuclear program and missile system continue to advance.
“They’re so far advanced toward putting a nuclear device on an intercontinental ballistic missile and hitting targets on the west coast of the United States in the very near future. Some people have estimated that to mean next year,” said Bolton.
Bolton believes the common ground for Trump and Xi would be for the two Koreas to be united again and erase the nuclear menace.
Trump Pounds Syria, Terrorism in Sweden, White House Shuffle?
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America react to President Trump ordering missile strikes against a Syrian airfield in retaliation for Syria’s use of chemical weapons. They also discuss another terrorist attack involving a truck, this time in Stockholm. They’re stunned to see reports that Trump may be considering replacing his top two advisers. And they welcome Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.
SCOTUS Filibuster Nuked, Haley Stares Down Russia, Bannon Off NSC
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America react to Senate Republicans nuking the filibuster rule on Supreme Court nominations. They also cheer Nikki Haley for staring down the Russians over Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its own people. And they discuss the removal of Steve Bannon from a key National Security Council position.
Three Martini Lunch 1/26/17
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are encouraged by President Trump’s vow to enforce existing immigration laws. They also rip Rep. Tulsi Gabbard for her Syria trip and going easy on Assad in her analysis. They unload on disingenuous Democrats upset about Trump looking to end sanctuary cities, and they note the rise of Canada’s Trump – and it’s someone you may well be aware of.
Three Martini Lunch 1/19/17
In the final podcast of the Obama presidency, Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America cheer Donald Trump’s goal of aggressively reducing the size of government but acknowledge it will not be easy. They also react to Bernie Sanders saying America is not compassionate because our government does not do as much for people as more liberal governments do. And they scratch their heads as Rep. Tulsi Gabbard embarks on a mysterious trip to Syria.
‘We Cannot Trust the Russians’
Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., is calling for immediate aid to the displaced Syrian people at risk of being butchered by the Syrian government forces and he warns the incoming Trump administration that Russia has designs on calling the shots throughout much of the Middle East.
Reacting to Tuesday’s news that Syrian rebels have effectively lost their stronghold on Aleppo, Pascrell says that leaves a massive humanitarian crisis.
“There’s a huge humanitarian problem there for the people who remain in Aleppo and the surrounding areas. Aid has not been able to get to them. Food has not been able to get to them because of the cabal between the Russians and the Syrian government,” said Pascrell.
“Right now, the immediate problem is to bring aid to those people who need it. There’s no water. There’s no food. And obviously, if you watch the pictures, there’s very little shelter,” said Pascrell.
He says the blame for the humanitarian nightmare belongs at the feet of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“Assad has butchered his own people. He chooses to continue to do this. He wants to bring the people and anybody that joins them, such as the rebels, to their knees. While that’s happening, innocent people are dying,” said Pascrell.
Pascrell admits the crisis in Syria has no simple solutions, since trying to find and train moderate rebels has proved elusive and the U.S. is simultaneously fighting radical forces like ISIS and the Al Nusra Front.
“That’s a very difficult enterprise. Four years ago, we did know there were a certain amount of rebels who had the exact same agenda as we had, and that is is to overthrow the Assad government. We put that aside and allowed Assad to get stronger,” said Pascrell.
Russia is one of the key reasons for Assad;s ability to beat back the rebels, particularly in providing the air power that eroded the rebel grip in Aleppo. Pascrell says it’s long past time to impose economic sanctions on Moscow.
“We don’t want to risk outright war with the Russians. That’s not what we seek and I’m sure that’s not what they seek with us. But I think if we put economic sanctions on the Russians, it’s worked before. It could work again,” said Pascrell.
He says Americans should have no illusions about Russia.
“We cannot trust the Russians. We can’t trust the Russians now and we’re not going to be able to trust them after January 20. Anybody that’s foolish enough to think that we can do this is simply going to bring more misery upon the Syrian people,” said Pascrell.
But the wariness toward Russia extends far beyond Syria. To begin, Pascrell says you just have to look at how Vladimir Putin handles criticism from his own people.
“We’re dealing with a Russian government here that has suffocated any dissent in its own country. How many journalists have been thrown in prison? How many journalists have been thrown the heck out that are now in the United States?” said Pascrell.
He says the Russian involvement in Syria combined with the crackdown on rights in Turkey are combining towards the creation of a troubling and growing alliance throughout the region.
“Pretty soon you’re going to have an alliance between the Russians, the Turks, the Iranians and the Syrians. I see that developing there right now. The Turks have their own problems internally and [Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan] is going to take it out on American foreign policy. There’s no two ways about it,” said Pascrell.
“[The Russians] don’t want these countries to turn to the West. They want these countries to turn to Russia. So we’re between that rock and the rock of not getting involved where American lives are going to be lost. Not an easy question to resolve whether it’s Obama or Trump,” said Pascrell.
In fact, the congressman would not be surprised if Russia makes our fight to eradicate ISIS more difficult than it needs to be.
“While we’re fighting ISIS and giving all we can in order to fight the extreme jihadists, we need to recognize at the same time that Russia will simply go with the flow in whatever suits their purpose,” said Pascrell.
While he encourages President-Elect Trump to study up on all the ways Russian aggression is evident today, Pascrell says he has no idea what to expect from the incoming administration.
“I don’t know what to expect. Does anybody know what to expect? Whether it was the campaign or whether it was after the campaign, you never know what he’s going to say or what direction he’s going to go in. I don’t think it’s healthy for the region. I’ll tell you that,” said Pascrell.
Three Martini Lunch 12/14/16
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America enjoy reading the Politico story of how the Clinton campaign vigorously resisted efforts from allies to go to Michigan to help her win there. They also sigh over the carnage in Syria and the latest toothless response from the Obama administration. And they discuss the state of Keith Olbermann’s mental health as he offers an unhinged rant saying Donald Trump cannot be allowed to take office or else it will mean the end of our independence.