Yesterday Would Have Been Better, But Now’s Fine


The most basic duties of a nation state are to protect its citizens from foreign violence and — when failing at that — to ensure that those who commit violence against it are seen to have made a grievous mistake.

For fourteen months, the Islamic State been allowed to get away with humiliating a military we spent over a decade — and countless billions — training. It has, moreover, done so despite our government’s explicit promise to defeat it, while encouraging and orchestrating domestic violence in the West. As noted in this morning’s Morning Jolt, it’s been a lot more success than failure of late, and there are dead Americans on three continents to prove it.

Syria … The Real Answer


If we really want to help the Syrian refugees, we should provide a safe place for them to live in their own country. I am reasonably sure that this would be their option of choice if they were indeed fleeing from war and persecution as opposed to being economic refugees.

Disrupting the life and well-being of Americans only creates animosity toward people who under normal circumstances would prefer to stay put.

Syrian Refugees, Syrian Terrorists, Belgian Tourists, and Belgian Terrorists, Redux


Part of me thinks, “Okay, Claire, you’ve said your piece, you’re not going to elevate the tone on Ricochet at this point by pressing it further.”

Another part of me thinks, “I don’t seem to have made my case successfully.” By which I mean: I don’t think I convinced the maximum number of people possible. And that part of me thinks, “My case, perhaps, is important. If I let go now, it will be out a desire for popularity and for an easier day, which I’ll legitimize to myself by telling myself I’ve elevated the tone.”

Dear Governors Who Oppose Syrian Refugee Resettlement


I applaud you in your eagerness to keep our homeland safe from terrorism. Believe me, I don’t take the threat of terrorism lightly. I don’t want to pull this card too often — I know it gets old — but my cozy Paris neighborhood was turned into a river of blood the other day. I’m dusting off the escape plans, thinking maybe it would be prudent to buy myself a bit of atropine, 2-PAM and diazepam to have on hand at home, a Hazmat suit, that sort of thing. And I only I mention this to you just so you know I take this threat every bit as seriously as you do. Unfortunately, I suspect, I take it quite a bit more seriously, because it’s obvious to me that you’ve not given this even five minutes’ of serious thought.

Here’s why I think so. Have a close look:

If We Want to Destroy ISIS, We Can Destroy ISIS


140929-afghanistan-chinook-ga-1810_58a400ee3e3c26a5fdf0a7c395ac8d34If we want to destroy ISIS, we can destroy ISIS. Perhaps I am stating the obvious, but I want to state it anyway. Why? Because I am not hearing it enough.

I’m certainly not hearing it from the White House, where the original goal of destruction is barely mentioned. President Obama is listless. He’s also petulant, pointing political fingers at Republicans. But he doesn’t have a trace of a coherent policy to destroy ISIS. Not a trace.

This is from General Jack Keane, in his recent congressional testimony: “Having the best security defensive system in America is not sufficient; we must have as good an offense to stop and defeat ISIS. We do not. We are not even close.”

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review sigh as FBI Director James Comey suggests the government can’t do anything else to vet Syrian refugees.  They hammer Hillary Clinton for saying Muslims have nothing to do with terrorism.  And they rip Hillary Clinton and her campaign for threatening legal action against the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles  if it didn’t remove video of comedians mocking her when she visited the club last week.

Vetting Syrian Refugees


The argument against letting them in is that the government, being completely incompetent, can’t possibly sort through ten thousand people and pick out the terrorists. Syria is just too chaotic, and you never really know what’s in someone’s heart and mind.

But if we look back to the discussion on our government’s programs that applied waterboarding, EIT, and indefinite detention, we were also told that the government only applied these things to known, dangerous terrorists.

What Can Men Do Against Such Reckless Hate?


In the comments of my article on lessons from the Paris attacks, Mike Silver commented,

“You need professionals to fight off jihadis. A bunch of kids carrying guns would be a formula for a Bastille Day celebration. Half of them high on the music or high otherwise. I really don’t see the applicability of a Second Amendment argument in this case. It’s an audience out for a good time, not capable of defending themselves with or without guns. It’s they who need protection, and apparently none existed.”

Obama Drove Sunnis into ISIS’s Arms


Iraqi demonstrators protest against ISIS in front of the White House, June 21, 2014. Rena Schild /

Throughout the last third of George W. Bush’s presidency, opinion leaders were obsessed with the question of mistakes. Among most members of the press and among Democratic office holders (even, or perhaps especially, those who voted to approve the Iraq War), the appetite was strong to hold President Bush in a half nelson until he admitted that the war had been a terrible mistake. When Jeb Bush entered the presidential race, he was quickly charged with fraternal guilt in the matter.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review like a new poll showing Hillary Clinton losing badly to all four top GOP candidates in Colorado.  They also discuss multiple reports of Syrians fraudulently posing as refugees in an effort to reach the U.S.  And they enjoy the demand of student protesters that Princeton scrub all references to former Pres. Woodrow Wilson.

We Are at War with Radical Islam


DebateWhy exactly do the Democrat candidates for President choke like they have a chicken bone in their throats when asked to say those words? John Dickerson asked Hillary Clinton during Saturday night’s debate whether she agreed with various Republican politicians, and for that matter French President Hollande, that we are at war with radical Islam. Her response was to stumble about and ultimately insist that we were not at war “with all of Islam.” This was distinctly off the point of the question and illustrated yet again the fetish with words that the left has any time race, culture, or ethnicity sneak into the conversation.

This is the topic that my co-host Todd Feinburg and I delve into in this week’s edition of the Harvard Lunch Club Political Podcast. The podcast is a spinoff of the Harvard Conservative Lunch club which we formed a few years ago. (And please don’t ask if we had our meetings in a phone booth – you are just dating yourself). We hope you’ll check it out.

Why would the Democrat candidates not be willing to say “radical Islam” or “radical Islamic terrorist?” I think it’s safe to say that if Hillary were to utter those words, she wouldn’t run the risk of frightening Muslim voters in the middle to flee over to the Republicans. I don’t even think that Muslims in the Democrat base are going to have their enthusiasm for Hillary (or any Democrat) mitigated by the use of those terms. There seems to be no appreciable downside to just simply acknowledging the religious connection of the terror threat to our society.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review applaud the French for rooting out terrorists in their country and for an aggressive bombing campaign in Syria.  They also hammer Secretary of State John Kerry for saying the “rationale” for the ISIS attacks against Charlie Hebdo was easier to understand because it had published material offensive to Muslims.  And Jim laments Bobby Jindal’s withdrawal from the 2016 campaign and rips Republicans who turned on Jindal for actually cutting spending.

What Happened at Stade de France?


Stade_de_France,_France_Miniature,_April_2015That’s what I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around for the last five days. Stipulating that things are still in flux and that we may be getting some more answers soon, I sense that it’s an important and relevant question how three suicide bombers — three! — recruited into an otherwise competent terrorist cell could have been so spectacularly incompetent as to kill only one other person.

What follows is some basic information and some questions, but consider this an exercise in crowd sourcing:

Some basic information about the stadium bombings:

If You’re Interested in Defeating ISIS, Suit Up!


During the Gulf War in 1991, we hit hundreds of target per day, down from as much as a thousand per day in the first couple of days. During the Kosovo airstrikes, we hit 50-100 targets per day. Now, it’s news if we hit 20 targets in a day. Note that comparing targets hit obviates any development in weapons or aircraft. A target is a target, and it’s either hit or not.

We are not trying to fight this war; this is a political sop. It’s supposed to be enough to appease the warlike without alarming the peaceniks, and certainly without seriously damaging ISIS.

Claire Berlinski Answers Viktor Orban, Part 1 of 4


imagesAnd in doing so, I’ll also answer Robert Lux. But I’d like to ask all of Ricochet if we — all of us, me included, and me especially — have this conversation in a way of which Ricochet can be proud. These are deeply emotional issues. They should be.

I feel quite strongly about the future of liberal democracy in the West and Islamic terrorism. I’ve written books about the issue, some parts of which might surprise those of you who’ve pegged me as the resident all-heart-no-survival-instinct editor of Ricochet. (Critics roundly denounced that book when it was published ten years ago as the midnight eructations of a ravening Islamophobe. They probably hadn’t read it carefully. But no one is criticizing it now — except, perhaps, for me.)

I couldn’t be closer to these questions, literally. Had my father not been in the hospital this past week; had he or I or my brother instead gone out for dinner or a drink at one of the places that was attacked, we might now be DNA samples on the pavement over which lachrymose Parisians are lighting candles and singing choked-up versions of the Marseillaise. Everyone I know in Paris has been affected.

The Attackers: A Reply to BrentB67


BrentB67 asked me a question about the attacks in Paris; I realized my answer was getting a bit long — and suggesting a point beyond the question he’d asked — so I figured I’d make a post out of it.

BrentB67: Claire, regarding the list of attackers. Those that are French citizens are they naturalized or 2nd generation? Thank you.

ISIS, Hatred, the Internet, Plus Fear and Trembling


A group of male Syrian refugees at the blocked Slovenian border with Croatia on Sept. 20. Photoman29 /

While many are quick to malign the current administration for never letting a tragedy go to waste, the sad truth is I am doing exactly that. Either it’s because the end of the year is near, or I’m shifting my career focus, or Paris has given me a grand opportunity to ferret out negativity — the outcome remains the same. I am paring down my existence on the Internet, at least on what many consider the backwaters of human despair, social media. As for how I am using tragedy to my own advantage, it’s just the simple act of “unfriending” the particularly venomous individuals that have taken the low road of fear and hatred.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review applaud Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein for stating that ISIS is not contained, is growing significantly and needs to be destroyed.  They also slam Pres. Obama for dismissing the ideas that American leadership and America winning are critical to defeating ISIS.  And they react to new emails from Huma Abedin telling a colleague that Hillary Clinton is “often confused.”

Refugees and the Road to Hell


imageI don’t like writing on this topic. The coming season represents a celebration about a child whose very existence came under intense political pressure and violence within two years of his birth. Had it not been for the fact that His parents managed to flee as refugees into Egypt until His enemy was dead, we would never have heard of the man who would later be called Jesus Christ. History would have been very different, and the world would have been at a loss incomprehensible. No serious Christian can forget this.

I am not heartless to the countless refugees haunting and trying to break past Europe’s doors to avoid tyranny and death. Or the migrants who seek a better life for both them and their families. How can I be? I am Irish: my country’s history is littered in religious and political violence which many of my countrymen died or fled from. Millions of Irish have been refugees in the past, fleeing British tyranny, oppression, and starvation. Thousands more wanting a better life traveled and died getting to America.

But, in addition to being an Irishman, I am also a history teacher and a conservative who prides himself on basing decisions on a rational policy. This is not like previous refugee crises because this one doesn’t only stress the host society as it struggles to feed and clothe its guests, but also threatens its safety from the people it proclaims to help.

Martial Law Légère, or a State of Light Emergency


In the wake of Friday’s attacks, French President François Hollande declared a state of emergency. Or at least, l’état d’urgence has been widely translated as “state of emergency,” but this misses a few nuances. Let me explain what it means, as best I understand. The state of emergency measures were put in place in 1955, during the Algerian war, and designed for use in “cases of imminent danger resulting from serious breaches of public order, or in case of events threatening, by their nature and gravity, public disaster.” The emergency state we’re in right now isn’t as vigorous a form of martial law as the French constitution, in principle, might allow, so a better translation might be “a state of light emergency.”

The measures give the authorities the right to set curfews, limit the movement of people, forbid mass gatherings, establish secure zones where people can be monitored, and close public spaces such as theaters, bars, and museums. They give more powers to the security services and police, such as the right to conduct house searches at any time without judicial oversight, enforce house arrest, and confiscate certain classes of weapons, even if held legally.