Proft: Good morning, Dan and Amy. Happy 2018! Jim Comey rang in the new year with this tweet; "Here's hoping 2018 brings more ethical leadership focus on the truth and lasting values." Yeah, I agree, Jim. Let's start with the FBI, shall we? Fareed Zakaria, the kind of insufferable globalist on CNN, he wrote the book "Rise of the Rest", which I read, and has...all of his predictions have...
Jacobson: ...not come true?
Proft: *laughing* ...have been wholly inaccurate to this point, but he's HOPING they come true. And he's trying to shoehorn his predictions into Trump's first year, suggesting that Trump has retreated...has led the US retreat from the global stage. Here's Fareed Zakaria's commentary.
Zakaria (from tape): It's creator, upholder, and enforcer, the United States has withdrawn into self-centered isolation. The second great supporter and advocate of the open, rule-based world, Europe, has not been able to act assertively on the world stage with any clear vision or purpose. And in this period, China, Russia, and a host of smaller, illiberal powers are surging forward to fill the vacuum. Some years ago, I described a post-American world, brought on not by the decline of America, I said, but the rise of the rest. That process has been well underway, but has now been dramatically accelerated by the Trump administration's foolish and self-defeating decision to resign as the world's leader. As the President might say in one of his tweets, "Sad!"
Proft: Yeah, is that right? It doesn't seem to me that it's particularly right...withdrawn...into isolation. Let's see...ISIS has been virtually eliminated in terms of its presence in Syria and Iraq, BS controlled territory there, and that was in part due to action taken by this President. He's increased troop levels in Afghanistan, and that doesn't strike me as particularly isolationist. He's done a number of, kind of, "get to know you" regional tours of the world. He's enforced some, kind of, budget discipline at the UN of all places! So I'm not exactly sure what Fareed Zakaria is talking about. Perhaps our friend Jed Babbin can give us more insight. Jed Babbin, former United States Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, contributor to the Washington Times, and American Spectator. Jed, thanks for joining us, appreciate it.
Babbin: Well guys, great to be with you. It's my first radio hit for the year!
Proft: Alright! Well...
Jacobson: Let's make it a good one!
Proft: We're honored to have you...yeah, let's go!
Jacobson: Don't mess this up!
Proft: Well, what about Zakaria's description of Trump's first year, and where America stands on...with respect to "the community of nations"?
Babbin: Well, you know guys, knuckleheads like Zakaria equate withdrawing from the Paris climate change agreement as isolationism. So by his definition, sure, we're isolationists, but proud of it! The point comes down to, really, we are taking a leadership role much more than we have anytime in the past 8 years, the previous 8 years. And Mr. Trump is making some big strides! There are some huge challenges facing him right now, including what's going on in Iran, and North Korea. But I think that Mr. Trump is doing a much MUCH better job than what he's getting credit for.
Jacobson: Well, President Trump tweeted support for the Iranian protesters out there. Do you think...I mean, there's a difference between protesting and rioting, and a lot of what I saw there over the weekend, the protesters lit one police station on fire, and there's been some vehicles turned over. Do you think he should have stayed out of it, or do you think he should have Tweeted about it?
Babbin: Well I mean, he should have done a lot more than TWEET. These protesters are striking a blow for freedom! It's not just rioting in the sense that people are rioting senselessly, with no good reason. These people are protesting the oppression of this regime. They're attacking the besieged militiamen, who patrol their streets trying to put the riots and protests. And they're doing, I think, the right thing! We should be doing a lot more to help them, rather than just Tweeting about it!
Proft: Well, the State Department...I mean, I agree with you, obviously...maybe it's that "We don't want to upset Obama's good friend Rohani and the Mullahs in Iran, right? They're our new partners in peace, aren't they?"
Babbin: *sarcastically* Oh yeah...well yeah, sure.
Proft: But the State Department did issue a statement, that was more than just Tweeting support; condemning the arrest of peaceful protesters, urging nations to support the Iranian people. I mean, these are young people, as you were characterizing, Jed. 60% of Iran is under the age of 30, it's an incredibly young nation. And one that frankly...and we've seen this before back in 2009 when Obama completely turned his back on the protesters, those yearning for freedom in Iran. They seem less and less willing to tolerate Islamofacism in their country.
Babbin: Well, I think they're less and less willing to tolerate economic corruption. They don't want to see all of their money being spent abroad in places like Syria. And they're really just tired of not having the freedom that they all want. So you know, what we have to understand is that Iran is not monolithic. On one hand, you have the Ayatollahs, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the besieged militia...and all of those Shiite forces that are trying to keep the lid on these protests. On the other hand, you know...most of Iran is literate, they're fairly highly educated, there's widespread unemployment there, I think you said that 60% are under the age of 30, but most of those people are unemployed! And they're tired of it, so what they're trying to do is fix what is wrong in their country. And again, I think we have to take their side in a fairly bold way, and some of it needs to be covert.
Jacobson: Let's move over to North Korea. Kim Jong-un in his New Year's Day address had a new look, he had a new suit, none of that mumu stuff, new glasses, new hairstyle, and he also extended an olive branch to South Korea, on the...with the Olympics being the main premise of the conversation. But could that lead to diplomatic talks?
Babbin: Well it might, but I don't think it's going to. The South Koreans are not dumb. They see what he's trying to do, and he's trying to create some barrier or obstacle between us and the South Koreans. They're not gonna fall for it. They may try to go talk to them...fine. Why not? But the basic bottom line is Kim is not going to change his behavior, and if you read my Predictions column in Spectator yesterday, you'll know that I'm predicting that they'll try with missile launches and possibly with a nuclear detonation to disrupt the Olympics. I think that's a dang certainty.
Proft: Give us your kind of rank assessment, or order of priority, then, Iran vs North Korea.
Babbin: I think Iran...and I think Pakistan play into it too...you have three nations that are basically in a very bad position to push us towards the brink, push us towards war. Iran is cooperating with North Korea, so maybe the two of them combined are the highest threat we have. We know they're cooperating on missile development and the development of nuclear weapons. They both will...well, the North Koreans have both already...and the Iranians if they don't already have them, will also have them very quickly. So, these two and their cooperation is pretty much at the top of my list. And I think beyond that, you have to look at what's going on with Russia, in the Ukraine and elsewhere, with Syria and so forth. You have to look at what China is doing. China is building military bases in Pakistan, through this "China-Pakistan Economic Corridor" initiative. There's a lot going on this year, and quite frankly, none of it's going to be good.
Proft: Well, and how should...this was a Politico story, so I'm not saying it wasn't covered by the DC Press Corps, it was by definition. But it certainly wasn't amplified on cable news, like so many other stories, particularly specious ones about Russian collusion. But how the Obama administration's derailed a DEA investigation into Hezbollah, Hezbollah turning...trafficking cocaine and laundering money, to finance its expansion. Hezbollah, a designated terrorist organization, just as Iran is a designated state sponsor of terror...but because Obama was playing footsie with those Islamofascists in Tehran, we allowed not only a glide-path for nuclearization of Iran but also for the expansion of this terrorist organization Hezbollah.
Babbin: Well yeah, this was a very big story. It was popped out, quite frankly very surprisingly, by the very VERY liberal Hill Newspaper...or, I'm sorry, by Politico, even MORE liberal than the Hill! So this was a very deep investigative report that they put out about two months ago, and it showed that this "Operation Cassandra", the DEA operation to shut down Hezbollah's trafficking of money and drugs in the United States and around it, it was shut down because President Obama was pursuing his nuclear weapons deal with Iran. That is BEYOND shameful! Look, Obama failed, as we talked about earlier, to support the protests in the nascent revolution in 2009, The Green Movement. He went ahead and killed Operation Cassandra to benefit Hezbollah, to protect them, and get less adverse publicity for his nuclear deal, and he went ahead with the nuclear deal! That was, as Mr. Trump said, the worst deal possible. So Mr. Obama's motivations, I cannot understand. They certainly were totally inconsistent with America's national security interests, and at this point, we have to see where this all plays out. I'm hopeful that President Obama...President Trump, rather...will go ahead and cancel the nuclear weapons deal this month, when he's due to certify it again, but I kind of doubt that he will because his advisers, all of our allies, are pushing him to not do that.
Jacobson: Well, in your article that you wrote in the American Spectator, you wrote about Hezbollah, and you predict they're gonna fire 500 missiles into Israel?
Babbin: Well, maybe more than that. I mean, they've got about 10,000, or...I've heard all sorts of numbers, 10,000, 100,000. Last time Israel and Hezbollah fought was 2006, they're about ready to do so again. Iran is building military bases in Syria, very close to the Golan Heights on the Israeli border. There's things there that are about to blow up, and I think they will this year, unfortunately. It will take many many lives, but I think there's going to be a missile strike on Israel by Hezbollah, those missiles will be shot down by...well, they've got three big systems, what they call the Iron Dome system, anti-missile system. Below that is David's Sling, another anti-missile system. And below that the Arrow System, which is kind of what we call our Patriot missile...anti-missile system. Most of those things fired by Hezbollah will not reach their targets, but some will, simply because there's so many of them. And there's going to be a rather nasty, and I predict very short, war, between Hezbollah and Israel. Iran may be involved, directly or indirectly, and if they are, that will be a much MUCH bigger war.
Proft: And it's interesting, just going back to Zakaria, it...to me, what he was talking about was the United States not doing enough to prop up European socialist democracies that are sort of spiraling. And there was more evidence of that over the weekend...the New Year's Eve party in Berlin set up a safe zone for women...this sort of in response to the New Year's Eve festivities in Cologne a year...two years prior, where hundreds of women were sexually molested and robbed by gangs of men, the great experiment in quote-unquote "multiculturalism"...well, the seeds that were sown being reaped in Germany and elsewhere. That combined with aggressive posture Trump has taken with the UN, I mean, $285 million budget cut in the UN, I mean, that's sort of unheard of, even though in the grand scheme of things, that's not a lot of money. What about the continued kind of diminution of Europe on the world stage?
Babbin: Well, I think it's gonna continue. I think Europe is struggling very badly with itself, frankly. The Brexit negotiations are hot and cold, going up and going down, and Prime Minister Theresa May will continue to be the designated javelin catcher because no one in the Conservative Party wants to stand there and put up with the abuse from the EU guys. But there are a lot of other problems. Many economies there, particularly the Greek and Italian economies in Europe, are in shambles. And they're going to have to continue to be bailed out. I mean, Germany is tired of paying for all this, and quite frankly, Germany is, I believe, getting tired of Angela Merkel. So there may be some sort of turnover in the next German election, but who knows? There's an awful lot of things in Europe that make Zakaria right, but for all the wrong reasons.
Proft: He is Jed Babbin, former United States Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, contributor to the Washington Times and American Spectator, the American Spectator where you can get his 2018 predictions. Jed, thanks so much for joining us, appreciate it.
Babbin: Thanks guys, appreciate it!