The Invading Friend: The United States of America

Debates about Americanism and anti-Americanism, Americanophilia and Americanophobia, are continually rekindled as major geopolitical events unfold. To be precise, it would be more accurate to speak of love and hatred of the United States of America rather than of America, because with 10 million km2 and 332 million inhabitants, the United States is only a minor part of a continent that covers no less than 42.5 million km2 for a population of over a billion “Americans.” But ideological prejudices, linguistic conventions and semantic misappropriations being what they are, it is not easy to overcome them. Just one example: For forty years I have been protesting, without any real success, against the dubious use by French historians and journalists of the term “nationalist” instead of “national” to describe one of the two sides in the Spanish Civil War. My Hispano-American friends will therefore forgive me, at least I hope they will, for using the terms “America” and “Americans” in the conventional, partial and arbitrary senses they are given in Europe, rather than exclusively the expressions “United States” and “United Statesmen” (which are themselves problematic, since they also refer to the country and inhabitants of Estados Unidos Mexicanos).

The problem addressed in this article is that of the image of “America” and its evolution since the creation of the United States in 1776. What has been and what is the meaning given by observers of international political life to the events in which the United States has been involved since its foundation? It is worth noting at the outset that this age-old debate, which is still being rekindled, never takes the form of a clear right-left opposition. Pro- and anti-Americans have been recruited and split across the political spectrum for over a century and a half.

Many analysts have pointed out that there is, on the one hand, a structural or essentialist Americanism and anti-Americanism and, on the other, a conjunctural or circumstantial Americanism and anti-Americanism, which are limited to the praise or criticism of a given point at a given time. Among essentialist authors, we usually cite the “pro-American” French journalist Jean François Revel (who denounced his European adversaries’ “complex,” resentment” and “anti-American obsession”), or the American neoconservative Robert Kagan (theorist of the “benevolent” Empire) and, conversely, among the anti-Americans, Benjamin Barber or Noam Chomsky (who have often been denounced in the USA as traitors or masochists dominated by “self-hatred”). [See, Jean-François Revel, L’Obsession antiaméricaine, 2002. See also, Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of Great Powers, 1988, and Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard, American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, 1997].

According to essentialist authors, there is an “essence,” i.e., a positive or negative permanence, independent of history. America and Americans, according to some, struggle to spread progress, freedom, democracy, human rights and happiness throughout the world, but, according to others, they are guilty of all the errors, injustices, crimes and suffering of humanity. America and Americans thus are, for some, the beneficent friend, the disinterested defender of the oppressed, the “camp of good,” to be defended and loved, and, for others, the atavistic enemy, the incarnation of the eternal “fascist” bastard, the irredeemable nation, to be hated and slaughtered. There is thus both an essentialist xenophilia and xenophobia, which sees the Other as an immutable “essence,” sometimes admirable, sometimes detestable. The contempt, hubris and arrogance of some is always counterbalanced by the bitterness, rancor and resentment of others.

The problem is that the definition of Americanophilia or Americanophobia is very rarely fixed in the same author, and essentialist and conjunctural arguments are usually inextricably intertwined. In reality, Americanophile and Americanophobic discourses are mostly linked to historical events. Opinions hostile or favorable to the United States vary according to the era and ideological presuppositions of the actors involved, and are highly dependent on historical moments.

What are the Objective Reasons for Admiring the United States?

There are, of course, objective reasons to admire the United States of America. Admirable is the scientific and technical level of this great nation. One would have to be devoid of reason and heart to ignore it. Who would dare to claim that American literature has not reached the highest summits? Hollywood cinema, often mediocre, is certainly not as shabby as the most chauvinistic Europeans claim. Qualitatively pitiful (nearly a thousand films are produced every year), it nonetheless boasts many masterpieces. In terms of quality, 1% of American production has always rivaled the best European cinema, and for almost forty years, with the exception of a few rare cases, it has far surpassed it. Another example: the history of facts and ideas and political science. The social science or “societal” rantings of turn-of-the-20th-century American academics, fanatical followers of the “woke” ideology, cannot overshadow the admirable work of authors as diverse as Christopher Lasch, Paul Gottfried, Robert Nisbet, John Lukacs and Paul Piconne, to name but a few. All of them equal, and sometimes surpass, those of the most illustrious intellectual figures in Europe at the turn of the 21st century.

Equally admirable is the commitment of the American people to the First Amendment of their Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Of course, one cannot ignore the ability of American jurists to reinterpret a constitutional text, sometimes in a direction absolutely contrary to the spirit of the Founding Fathers, in order to satisfy the interests of the political-economical-media oligarchy or to respond to its injunctions. Of course, we cannot be so naive as to believe that this loyalty to the Bill of Rights will endure forever without fail. But to this day, despite setbacks and repeated accusations of violations, the principle and its application stand firm. And that is no mean feat! Just compare the situation in the USA with that in France or Spain. A memorial law, which would impose the State’s official viewpoint on historical events, is still inconceivable in the United States.

All this, we must acknowledge, without being blind to the imperfections of a highly imperfect representative democracy regularly marked by elections marred by irregularities and even by soft coups d’état by the dominant oligarchy. The press in the United States is theoretically free, but in practice it is tightly controlled by the powerful and the wealthy; society is particularly unequal; the proclaimed freedom is compromised by anti-terrorism laws; the political oligarchy is partially corrupt; Mafia influences on the White House have been frequent [See, Jean-François Gayraud, La Mafia et la Maison Blanche, 2023]; untimely military interventions in the world are beyond count. All these criticisms are well known.

The Intensity of Anti-Americanism Goes Hand-in-Hand with the Intensity of Americanism

Anti-Americanism is not simply a matter of prejudice or detestation. The denunciation of the system’s dysfunctions, the distrust and fear of imperialism, are not the product of fantasy. Exceptionalism and expansionism were present from the very beginning of the American Republic. They were bound to provoke international concern, apprehension and hostility.

The foundation of any true foreign policy is the national interest. This is as true of the United States as it is of any other power. Theorizing about cosmopolitanism, globalization and multiculturalism, so fashionable among Western oligarchies, cannot mask this reality. As recent history has shown, there is no such thing as globalist “inevitability.” On the contrary, the overcoming of national interests, the phenomenon of convergence advocated and driven by Western pseudo-elites, is accompanied by new fragmentations, oppositions and reconfigurations of international relations. After all, transnational globalization is only exacerbating the desire for state sovereignty and independence, including on the “old continent.” De Gaulle rightly said that we must not make the mistake of confusing peoples, states, regimes and rulers. To ignore this is to fail to understand why virulent criticism of the United States is now the most widely shared view in the world.

Significantly, in the “Old World,” they are the defenders of the European-Atlanticist oligarchy (that of the “poodles” of Uncle Sam, Merkel, Scholz, Macron, Van der Leyen or Sánchez, all epigones of Monnet, Schuman, de Gasperi, Spaak, Hallstein, etc., themselves often accused of being nothing more than “agents of the CIA.” Walter Hallstein, first president of the European commission was, let us not forget, a former Nazi lawyer cleared by the Americans), who never wanted to see de Gaulle as anything other than an anti-American, champion of identity and national sovereignty. They never fail to blame the old General for having accepted the entry of communist ministers into his second government in 1945 when the PCF represented 26% of the electorate, but de Gaulle, critic of the “party regime,” resigned after just two months. The same people criticized the fact that de Gaulle, with Stalin’s support, had obtained a seat for France on the UN Security Council on the same footing as the victors of the Second World War. Invariably they also deplore the Phnom-Penh speech against military intervention in Vietnam (1966), the withdrawal from NATO’s integrated command to overcome bloc logic (1966) and, of course, the Montreal speech “Vive le Québec libre!” denouncing too much Anglo-Saxon influence (1967). Yet de Gaulle was not anti-American. In every serious crisis that could lead to a dreadful nuclear confrontation, the “Connétable” always honored France’s alliances against the USSR. This was the case, for example, in 1961, during the construction of the Berlin Wall (“wall of shame” for liberals and social democrats, and “wall of anti-fascist protection” for communists), or in 1962, during the Soviet missile affair in Cuba [See, Éric Branca, L’ami américain : Washington contre de Gaulle, 2017]. De Gaulle was never anti-American, even if his opponents, past and present, globalists and other Europeanists and Atlanticists, try to pass him off as a model of anti-Americanism. Clearly, for them, one cannot be a friend of America if one refuses to slavishly align oneself with the positions of the American government.

Paradoxically, it was in fact President François Mitterrand (a Socialist leader, elected President of the French Republic because of the votes of the Communists, even though in his youth he had been awarded the Francisque, the highest distinction of the Vichy regime), who had the harshest words to say about the United States. In the twilight of his last term of office, fully aware that American governments had been pursuing the definitive expulsion of France from Africa since the end of the Second World War (an expulsion completed under Emmanuel Macron with the unplanned help of Russia and China), Mitterrand confided these edifying words to journalist George-Marc Benhamou: “France does not know it, but we are at war with America. Yes, a permanent war, a vital war, an economic war, apparently a war without killings. Yes, the Americans are very tough; they are voracious. They want undivided power over the world. It is an unknown war, a permanent war, apparently without killings, and yet a war to the death” [George-Marc Benhamou, Le dernier Mitterrand, 1998. Mitterrand also said: “I am the last of the great presidents. After me, there will only be financiers and accountants.”]

[On the role of the CIA in the destruction of European states and the construction of an Atlanticist Europe, see Bruno Riondel, Cet étrange Monsieur Monnet, 2017. Former advisor to President Georges Pompidou, Marie-France Garaud, who was also a supporter of the young Jacques Chirac and an “éminence grise” of the Gaullist movement the Rassemblement pour la République (founded in 1976), said bluntly that Jean Monnet “was an American agent” (See broadcast “Ce soir ou jamais”, France 2, May 17, 2013). Disappointed by the reversals and betrayals of his protégé, Jacques Chirac, he said of him, with his usual frankness, “I thought Jacques Chirac was marble for statues, but he’s actually faience for bidets” (“Canard Enchainé,” December 2, 1985).

It is worth noting that, on the occasion of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the Fratelli d’Italia (G. Meloni), Vox (S. Abascal), Reconquête (M. Maréchal rather than E. Zemmour) and Rassemblement National (J. Bardella rather than M. Le Pen) parties all openly distanced themselves from the neutralist, pacifist and terciferist line, opting, unambiguously, for the Euro-Atlanticist line.]

In fact, the intensity of anti-Americanism goes hand-in-hand with that of Americanism. From Monroe to Biden, via Wilson, F.D. Roosevelt, Bush, Obama and Trump, the speeches of American presidents are nourished by simple convictions: the people of the United States are “chosen and predestined;” “the destiny of the American nation is inseparable from Progress, Science, the Good of Mankind, Democracy and the Will of God.” American liberal democracy is the “best of regimes,” the “best form of modernity,” universally applicable. Articles of faith that in themselves legitimize America’s “world leadership” and planetary crusade, just as yesterday the most specious “humanist” arguments of Communist anti-capitalist propaganda camouflaged the USSR’s global expansion.
Yet these pro-American ideas and values are shared more or less consciously in Europe by virtually the entire political-economy-media oligarchy, all of whom are more or less Americanolatrous, collaborationist and servile. It cannot be repeated too often—for the latter, the history of the United States is synonymous with freedom, tolerance, prosperity, democracy and civilization. Consequently, the slightest reservation, the slightest criticism of the dysfunctions of the American system is interpreted by them as a sign of resentment, ingratitude, a spirit of decadence, or worse, an obsessive hatred of the free market and liberal democracy. In this way, the obsessive EU-NATOists condemn themselves to twisting reality to suit their ideology. As the Polish political scientist Ryszard Legutko has remarkably shown [see, Ryszard Legutko, The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies, 2018], paradoxically, these “European federalists” claim to be part of a “new” liberal democracy that shares some of the most characteristic and worrying features of fallen communism [cult of “progress,” certainty of the existence of the “meaning of history,” desire to transform society by fighting against opponents of “emancipation and equality” ostensibly condemned to “the dustbin of history,” inability to tolerate contrary opinion, declared intention to create a new demos and a new man, submission of popular suffrage to unelected oligarchic bodies, dislike, sometimes verging on hatred, of the Church, religion, the nation, the family, classical metaphysics and morality, etc.]

Alongside these Americanolaters, as well as the patent detractors, there are of course the analysts, historians and political scientists who strive to circumscribe the debate on a geostrategic level. They point out that, for two centuries, North American foreign policy has oscillated between two opposing interpretations of the Monroe Doctrine (1823). On the one hand, there are those who defend the concept of a great space, the American continent, delimited and forbidden to any foreign interference, and, on the other, those who claim its antithesis, the policy of security of communication routes and the right to intervene in any space crossed by these communications. On the one hand, the supranational ideology of Pan-Americanism; on the other, the policy of interference on every continent, an instrument for the penetration of American capitalism, particularly in the markets of Asia and Europe. There are striking analogies with the Russian attitude to the Ukraine crisis. But with one major difference: Putin does not want world domination—he simply does not want to be threatened by American bases on his borders.

Similarities have often been noted, not in theory but in practice, between French republican universalism and Anglo-Saxon or American communitarian universalism. But there is a fundamental difference between the two. French republican universalism, a kind of secular, anti-Catholic counter-religion, sought to federate all members of the national community around common political and cultural values, treating them all solely as citizens. In contrast, Anglo-Saxon communitarian universalism is based on the coexistence of heterogeneous religious, ethnic and cultural groups within the same society, with mutual tolerance encouraged. The United States has historically been constructed as a collection of minority communities and cultures, with a universally accepted “founding myth” of the dominant WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) culture. But the long process that began two and a half centuries ago finally culminated in the militant separatism of the Woke.

When it comes to Americanism and anti-Americanism, perspective is everything. For Spanish-American historians and geo-politologists, the classic distinction between the two interpretations of the Monroe Doctrine, so dear to European political scientists, is not really relevant. For them, the great principles laid down by US diplomacy [Monroe Doctrine (1823), Manifest Destiny ideology (1845), Theodore Roosevelt’s Big Stick policy (1901), Franklin Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor Policy (1932), Truman’s National Security Theory (1947), Bush’s Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) process, etc.] all lead to a single goal, all lead to the same end, summed up in these words: “America for Americans… of the North.”

Why is Anti-Americanism So Widespread Around the World?
That said, honest controversy about ideas cannot do without a reminder of the chronology of a few historical facts. In 1620, Puritan settlers, passengers on the Mayflower, landed on the North American coast. All of them were fervent Calvinists who wanted to purge Christianity of the tares of Catholicism. They defined themselves as the “new people chosen by God” to found a “new Jerusalem.” In a way, it was Calvin who landed in America with them, becoming one of the Founding Fathers of the worldview of the future United States of America. Tocqueville explains that democracy in America was born of the Protestant Reformation; that it had its origins in the English Puritan revolution, and that to a large extent the Puritans shaped the entire destiny of the United States. More recently, Huntington also recognized that the culture of the founding colonists coexisted with many other cultures, but that these were always subordinate to the dominant culture: “This culture of the founding colonists has constituted the central and most enduring component of American identity.” The “founding myth” of the Puritan settlers remains relatively solid today, although it has been increasingly reinterpreted and challenged since the 1970s, to the great danger of the American Empire.

Let us not forget that it was this same Puritan people (or at least their representatives) who, meeting in assembly, decided on and carried out the purge and ethnic cleansing of the Amerindian nations between 1637 and 1898. As Argentinian historian Marcelo Gullo rightly writes, “in the religious training of the Puritan colonists, the Old Testament prevailed over the New Testament.” In their eyes, cruelty against an Indian was “a cruelty necessary for good to prevail and for the realization of the Kingdom of God.” From the outset, the Puritan settlers knew that Indians, “the incarnation of sin and the devil,” could not be part of their “New Jerusalem.” They knew they were not there to evangelize, but to build the new Kingdom of God. Gullo explains: “To build the ‘new Jerusalem,’ the Indians had to be exterminated. There was no place for the Devil’s children in God’s Country” [see, Marcelo Gullo, Nada por lo que pedir perdón, 2022].

Nor was there any possibility of ethnic mixing with the Indians, in whom the Protestant colonists saw only men of inferior status. And this is a major difference from the conquest and evangelization of Hispanic America. “The anti-Hispanic legend in its American version,” honestly admits French Protestant historian Pierre Chaunu, “plays… the salutary role of an abscess of fixation… The alleged massacre of the Indians in the 16th century [by the Spaniards] covers the objective massacre of frontier colonization in the 19th century [by North Americans]; non-Iberian America and Northern Europe free themselves of their crimes on the other America and the other Europe.” After the iniquitous treatment inflicted on the natives by the American colonists and their rulers (massacres, treaty violations and deportations), North American Indians only existed in homeopathic doses. On the other hand, south of the Rio Grande and all the way to Argentina, the presence of large numbers of Indians and mestizos testifies to the fact that the Hispanic Empire and Catholicism were infinitely less inhumane than what is presented in the anti-Spanish Black Legend, so prized by Protestant historians.

Before the native adversary had been totally decimated after 65 conflicts (1778-1890), the United States very soon began to expand beyond its borders. Their image in the world obviously suffered enormously due to their hyper-interventionist stance. In the 19th century, between 1800 and 1898, the list of their military interventions was already impressive: Tripoli, Florida, Mexico, Argentina, Nicaragua, Japan, China, Uruguay, Panama, Fiji, Angola, Colombia, Taiwan, Korea, Hawaii, Egypt, Samoa, Haiti, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, Philippines. In 1846, they invaded the territories of Mexico. After occupying the country for two years, under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848), they wrested from it the present-day states of California, Nevada, Utah, etc. (i.e. 15% of the territory of the United States and 119% of the present-day territory of Mexico). Texas had already been taken by force from Mexico in 1836, and officially attached to the United States in 1845.

But it was undoubtedly Cuba (1898), which was the first real testing ground for their expansionist methods. Some authors even see it as the baptismal act of anti-Americanism. The daily, Le Temps, forerunner of the newspaper, Le Monde, was not mistaken, calling the Cuban operation “high filibustering” (April 11, 1898). The Cuban affair is an archetypal example of provocation, violence, cynicism and hypocrisy camouflaged behind generous motives. A textbook case, it marks the beginning of U.S. imperialism, the first international intervention or aggression in a never-ending series.

In the Luso-Hispanic world alone, the number of U.S. interventions and assaults over the last two centuries amounts to almost 70 for the major ones (and almost 800 for the minor ones). [The bibliography on the subject is considerable. Just one example is the encyclopedic work by Argentinian historian Gregorio Selser, Cronología de las intervenciones extranjeras en América Latina, 4 volumes, Mexico, CAMENA, 2010.]

From its creation in 1776 to 2019, the United States has carried out nearly 400 military interventions, more than a quarter of which took place after the fall of the Berlin Wall [see, Sidita Kushi and Monica Toft, “Introducing the Military Intervention Project: A New Dataset on US Military Interventions, 1776–2019,” Journal of Conflict Resolution, 2022]. The end of the Cold War unleashed the global ambitions of US governments. Since 1990, interventions “in the name of democracy and the defense of human rights” have multiplied (Kuwait, Iraq, Somalia, Macedonia, Haiti, Bosnia, Sudan, Yugoslavia, East Timor, Afghanistan, Philippines, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, and so on). U.S. defense spending now totals over $800 billion a year, representing almost 47% of global military spending. By way of comparison, the defense budgets of the other powers, expressed in billions of dollars, are as follows: China 278, Russia 84 (110 in 2024), India 82, Saudi Arabia 71, UK 65, Germany 53, France 44, Italy 28, Spain 27. In addition, the United States has nearly 800 military bases worldwide, while the UK has 50, Russia around ten in neighboring countries, France 6 and China just one. In February 2024, in the midst of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, The New York Times revealed that since 2016 the CIA has financed 12 bases in Ukraine along the Russian border.

The war in Ukraine has been a terrible revelation of the incompetence and subservience of European leaders to interests that are not their own. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have been sacrificed, not only to repel Russian aggression, but also to deny the European economy access to the abundant, cheap energy it needs in Russia, for the benefit of the American energy economy and its arms industries.

Few Western political, cultural or religious authorities have dared to make a frank appeal for moderation without fear of being branded traitors and Putinists by the media. Pope Francis sparked an outcry when he urged Ukrainians to “have the courage to raise the white flag and negotiate to end the war ‘before things get worse'” (“When you see that you are defeated, that things are not working, have the courage to negotiate” [Swiss television, RTS, March 9, 2024].

Arrogant, uneducated, deaf and blind, the leaders of the EU were unable to anticipate the refusal of China and India, or more broadly that of 162 states out of 195, to vote their unilateral sanctions against Russia. In two years of war, the United States and Great Britain have admirably achieved their objective: to prevent the creation of Eurasia by creating a wall of hatred between Europe and Russia. What is more, thanks to the American neocons and their European friends, the process of global de-Westernization has accelerated and now seems unstoppable. The already palpable decline of European vassal states may well be the prelude to the inevitable end of the hegemony of the “American empire.” Hats off to you! Bravo, artists!

The Collaborative Spirit of the European Oligarchy

It would be a mistake, however, to blame North America’s rulers alone for the attitude of a caste and the shortcomings of a model of society that the majority of the European oligarchy worships on a daily basis. Has not cultural identity been replaced in the hearts and minds of the “elites” of the “Old World” just as much as in those of the “elites” of the “New World” by the exaltation of GNP growth, the glorification of massive access to consumption, the desire to extend the Western way of life to the rest of the world, the mad hope that the development of the forces of production can be perpetuated everywhere indefinitely without triggering terrible catastrophes? Are not “human rights” and so-called “universal values” just as sacralized by the European ruling class? Do Europe’s vassalized and submissive “elites” or pseudo-elites not magnify the global democratic crusade on a daily basis, while at the same time scorning historical and cultural circumstances and data? Does not the narrative of Europe’s mainstream media also serve to camouflage the aspirations and material interests of the globalized caste under the guise of universal moral objectives?

To this day, the United States is the holder of global leadership. It is the superpower, the hyperpower or the Empire. In the current phase of multipolarization, of recomposition of the world’s political-economic-cultural poles, the North American thalassocratic Empire is gradually losing influence, but it nonetheless retains a hegemonic position. No emerging power is yet in a position to surpass it. The United States produces just under a quarter of the world’s wealth, but it can exploit fabulous shale gas deposits and, above all, has an overwhelming military force. Their decline is undoubtedly historically inevitable, but the fall can be slowed down for the long term.

The hubris of the American rulers, their imperial overextension and the excesses dictated by their pride, now constitute a formidable danger to the stability of the planet. Economic warfare, of which they have been a major perpetrator for decades, is a tangible planetary reality. The oil and gas war is just one of the most blatant aspects of this. To deny or ignore what is at stake—the control of the world’s energy and agri-food reserves, the domination of information, communications, civil and military intelligence—is the sign of blindness, incompetence or treason.

But intellectual honesty dictates that it must be said again and again that the American ruling class benefits from the active complicity and benevolent collaboration of the majority of the European political and economic caste. Nor should we forget to underline the role and effective action of multinational managers and major consultancies.

Let us be clear: the U.S. oligarchy, the “Deep State,” is not our only adversary. The adversary is the mortifying ideology of the globalist pseudo-elite, on both left and right; that of the leaders and apparatchiks of the main European parties in power; that of the neo-social democrats and neoliberals, so close to the Democrat and neoconservative apparatchiks on the other side of the Atlantic; that of the masters of global finance and their media affianced, jealous guardians of political correctness; that of the “organic intellectuals,” tirelessly contemptuous of sovereignty, identity and populism, which they always declare to be “demagogic.”

The cultural-political battle is not between Europe and North America, but between two cultural traditions that are tearing each other apart within modernity. One, a political minority, is that of civic humanism, the virtuous Republic and the defense of a multipolar world; the other, a majority, is that of individualist humanism, consumerist homogenization, the managerial state and global “governance,” under the dual banner of multiculturalism and neo-capitalist productivism.


Arnaud Imatz, a Basque-French political scientist and historian, holds a State Doctorate (DrE) in political science and is a correspondent-member of the Royal Academy of History (Spain), and a former international civil servant at OECDHe is a specialist in the Spanish Civil War, European populism, and the political struggles of the Right and the Left – all subjects on which he has written several books. He has also published numerous articles on the political thought of the founder and theoretician of the Falange, José Antonio Primo de Rivera, as well as the Liberal philosopher, José Ortega y Gasset, and the Catholic traditionalist, Juan Donoso Cortés. A version of this article appeared in La gaceta de la Iberosfera.


Featured: Over the Top, poster by Sidney H. Riesenberg and Ketterlinus of Philadelphia; printed in 1918.


Americanism

This address was given by Maurice Timothy Dooling (1860–1924), in 1918. He was a district judge in California. It is a succinct expression of the nature and purpose of “Americanism.”

Foreword

The evening of Tuesday, September 24, 1918, was set apart in the Bohemian Club as American Night. There had been celebrated previously, French Night, British Night, Belgian Night, and Italian Night.

American Night is memorable particularly for the response of the Honorable M. T. Dooling, Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, to the toast, “Americanism.” Its lofty sentiments and the manner of the address electrified all those who were present, creating the greatest enthusiasm and causing immediate and repeated demands for its publication.

The evening was a most patriotic one. The Club dining room was decorated with the colors of the Allies—our Stars and Stripes draping the Club’s service flag of one hundred and fifty-one Stars. The entire Club chorus entered the room singing “America, the Beautiful.” During the dinner, popular songs representing this country’s wars were sung by the chorus joined by the members. These were rendered chronologically, commencing with “Yankee Doodle,” followed by “When Johnnie Comes Marching Home” (substituting “the Yanks” for “Johnnie’’), “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean,” “ Dixie,” “A Hot Time in the Old Town To-night,” “Over There,” “There’s a Long, Long Trail” and “Joan of Arc.” Pledges to the President of the United States, to the Allies and their rulers, were made. Mr. George Sterling read a poem, “Service,” written for the occasion. Remarks followed by Lieutenant de la Sevre of the French Artillery (an officer who has seen three years service in the trenches and who bore two chevrons for wounds received); by Captain Tymms, M. C., of the Royal Air Force, a distinguished British aviator, visiting the camps in the United States; and by Mr. R. S. Browne, military attaché to the Red Cross Mission in France, a member of the Club who had just returned from France and had been several days at the front during the battle of Chateau-Thierry. Songs of a patriotic character were sung at intervals, and then came Judge Dooling with the stirring speech which is presented in this publication in order that it may be preserved and brought to the attention of a larger number than the few hundred who heard it upon that notable occasion.


Americanism

I have been asked to say a few words upon Americanism on this our American Night. In complying, I am embarrassed, not by any lack, but rather by the excess of material that the subject brings to hand. Indeed, what one may briefly say upon a subject so broad depends altogether upon the angle of approach, and I am led, by training perhaps, to a phase that may seem commonplace. But, in these days, I believe we should occasionally be brought face to face with fundamental ideas—ideas which, because they are so familiar, are constantly; overlooked, forgotten, or ignored. Yet it is in their defense that we are now engaged in this tremendous war.

Americanism is something of an abstraction, and hard to define. No two persons, perhaps, would define it exactly alike, even though to all the idea may be basically the same. To me it means the great common spirit which everywhere pervades the land; the spirit of individual liberty, properly protected and duly restrained. It is a product, a result, an emanation rather, from the system which at once affords the protection and imposes the restraint. It is so interwoven with that system that it is impossible to say where the concrete ends and the abstract begins. But we cannot understand the one without a consideration of the other. To us, who are accustomed to our free institutions, who are born under the American flag or admitted into American citizenship—there comes no doubt of their justice or permanence, and the great social and civil truths that underlie and sustain them are so much a part of our very existence that it seems to us they must have sprung fully developed from man’s uncultivated instinct. But nothing could be further from the truth.

In the long upward struggle of the human race for individual liberty, every form and variety of government had been tried, from the extreme slavery and subjection of millions to the caprice of one man; through long centuries of suffering and hope, of struggles on the field and contests in the forum, by dungeon, rack and scaffold, with the. fires of liberty now burning brightly for a moment, and now all but extinguished in the blood of its adherents, from India westward by way of Greece and Rome, and the medieval municipalities; through all the varied feudal forms, the changing political experiences of England, France and the Low Countries; and finally culminating in the happy success of American patriots in establishing in a newly discovered land a government based, not upon the rights of rulers, but upon the rights of man, and for which no possible abiding place could have been found in all the world as it had theretofore been known.

Upon this new and broad domain, in the wide, free spaces of a land of unknown limits, old theories were overthrown, and a new principle enunciated, that upon foundations where liberty and law find equal support, a government could be maintained, not by the power of standing armies, or the might of floating navies, but by the willing support of an enlightened, free, and patriotic people. By a distribution of powers, untried till then and by the world regarded as a hopeless experiment, they granted to local communities the control of domestic affairs, and entrusted their care and maintenance to the various state governments. They collected and deposited under a written constitution, all the power necessary to guard the larger and the common interests, and established a central government sufficiently powerful to protect the meanest and restrain the most august; to maintain the dignity of law-abiding freedom among the powers of the earth; to defend now the interests of a hundred million freemen, to hold their authority and speak their voice in the face of all mankind.

Warned by the wrecks of the past, they liberated religion from bondage to the temporal power, separated Church from State, and blotted from the statute books, the crimes of nonconformity. They quenched the torch that kindled persecution’s cruel fires, prevented the enactment of any law to compel adherence to a specific form of worship; disestablished churches and removed religious disabilities; abolished all exactions for the maintenance of ecclesiastical authority; guaranteed to everyone the utmost freedom in the exercise of his religion and restrained forever the power of the government from being enlisted against the adherents of any sect or creed, protecting with equal impartiality the mosque of the Musselman, and the altar of the fire-worshipper, the Jewish synagogue and the Roman cathedral.

The result has been the absolute triumph of disenthralled humanity. In those great ideas of responsible and popular government, of civil and religious liberty, lie the causes that have made of Americanism the thing that we know it to be. They bring into action the noblest impulses of our natures and encourage the development of the best that is in our citizenship. They lead the humblest among us to exert himself to the utmost, as no limit is placed upon the rewards to be attained. Within our boundaries each man stands upon an equal footing with his fellows. The road to advancement is open to all. Our history on its every page records the names of those who under every disadvantage, have amassed fortune or acquired fame.

It is the glory of our free institutions that they open to all the avenues of wealth and distinction, and secure to all protection in the enjoyment of the fruits of their labor.

There is no boy in America today, however humble his birth or in whatever depths of poverty his lot may be cast, who, if he have but a clear head, a strong arm, and a brave heart, may not rise, by the freedom of our laws and the liberality of our people, until he stands with the foremost in the honor and estimation of his country. Unlike that of other and less favored lands, where stern distinctions of class and caste have beaten down the aspirations of many a noble heart, and closed the doors of advancement to everyone not fortunately born, our society does not resemble the rigid crust of the earth, with its impassible barriers of rock and its impenetrable layers of stone, but rather the waters of the mighty sea, broad, deep, boundless, but so free in all its movements that the drop which today sweeps the sands in its unfathomable depths, may rise to-morrow, through all the vast expanse till it flashes in the sunlight on the crest of the highest wave.

Out of these conditions arises that Americanism which, under God tonight, is to be the deciding factor against the most dread menace that ever confronted a vexed and tortured world. An Americanism, which, seeking nothing for itself, now battles unselfishly for justice, freedom and security for all; which states its purposes in such certain tones their echoes ring above the clash of arms; which pledges all its strength of wealth and men to crush the power that is driving decency and safety from the world; which, having set its hand to that great task, will not be stayed until its work is done; which, to that end, turns all its energies from their wonted ways to meet the new and grim demands of war; which, though it make mistakes, still heaps miracle on miracle, achieving the impossible as though engaged in every day affairs; which launches ships in all its bays like falling autumn leaves; which enrolls in its potential armies twenty-three and a half millions in less than thirty hours; which, with its ally, converts the Atlantic into a ferry and through its submarine-infested waters safely transports its soldiers in numbers staggering belief; which, with ready cheer and amazing prodigality, contributes of its treasure to every agency that can assist the work in hand; which voluntarily saves from a supply already scant an abundance of food for its want-oppressed allies; whose engineers amaze a world in arms by the vastness of their works and the celerity of their achievements; whose daughters go by thousands to the fields of France, there to undo, so far as possible, the devastating work of war; whose peaceful sons, untrained but yesterday, now meet and turn the mightiest machine of war the world has ever known.

I am not boasting when I say that these are but some of the fruits of an aroused Americanism, with the story not yet half-way told. But this is true. When not aroused, we are a patient, long-enduring, easygoing people, and sinister forces have been at work among us, the full effects of whose evil activities we but dimly begin to see. Aside from the winning of the war, no more important duty now lies before us than to Americanize America; to bring everyone within our borders to a realization of the fact that if he remain here, he must adapt himself to our institutions, and conform to our laws; to suppress every lawless organization whatsoever its name or pretended reason for existence, and whether its lawlessness find expression in the wanton slaughter of spectators at a parade, or the maiming of housewives, unprotected in common carriers that have fallen under the ban.


“Christian Zionism”: Theologizing Slaughter

The videos that follow were recorded in 2018. Given the current events in the Middle East, it is worthwhile to revist the important topic of Christian Zionism, which theologizes present-day slaughter through the twin tropes of “prophecy” and the “Chosen People.”

In 2022, Archbishop Atallah Hanna gave this assessment of “Christian Zionism”:

We call on journalists and media outlets to stop the use of this term because it has no place in the Christian Church and theology… Just because a group in America calls itself Christian and advocates for Zionism, does not mean they represent Christianity. It also does not mean we should adopt this false terminology in our writings and teachings.

We do not recognize this so-called Christian Zionism because Christianity is a religion that calls for love, peace, and for siding by the oppressed and the dispossessed wherever and whoever they are… However, Zionism is a completely different thing; it is a racist ideology and movement that has been the reason behind so many injustices and catastrophes inflicted on our Palestinian people.

We denounce and reject all attempts to link Christianity with Zionism; how can Christianity, a religion that calls for compassion and love, be combined with a racist ideology, responsible for all this suffering in the Holy Land and the region… How can this movement claim to represent Christianity while it advocates for wars and destruction that did not spare anybody, including Christians.

We can, for instance, refer to them as Zionist groups that allege being Christian, especially since their beliefs contradict the peaceful message of Christianity… These groups are harming Christianity; they can call themselves whatever they want; however, this doesn’t mean we should adopt their false terminology and ideology.

Christian Zionism, Part 1: Tracing the Lines of a Warmongering Heresy


Christian Zionism, Part 2: Why Christian Zionism Is a Problem


The Christian Seder Meal: A Violation of the 1st Commandment


The Need for American Hegemony

The report that follows was prepared for the United States Marine Corps, in 2009. It clearly lays out the continuing American policy of belligerent “benignity;” in other words, the entirety of the world is America’s “Manifest Destiny,” wherein the unipolar world must be maintained for the good of humanity.

Introduction

The American Idea becomes a commodity for export, maybe the only item of domestic manufacture that can’t be replaced by cheap foreign knock-offs.

The world witnessed a vast shift in the polarity of geopolitics after the Cold War. The United States became the world’s greatest hegemon with an unequalled ability to globally project cultural, political, economic, and military power in a manner not seen since the days of the Roman Empire. Coined the “unipolar moment” by syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, the disparity of power between the U.S. and all other nations allows the U.S. to influence the world for the mutual benefit of all responsible states. Unfortunately, the United States is increasingly forced to act unilaterally as a result of both foreign and domestic resentment to U.S. dominance and the rise of liberal internationalism. The United States must exercise benevolent global hegemony, unilaterally if necessary, to ensure its security and maintain global peace and prosperity.

Benevolent Nature

The fall of the Soviet Union ended a period of bipolarity and created an “ideological vacuum” in the absence of anticommunism. U.S. intervention against Soviet aggression in Europe was no longer necessary. Thus, the significance of future U.S. hegemony came into question.

America decided that its benignity would be extended to the rest of the world through the protection of Western interests and assurance of free trade. With the resurgence of worldwide terrorism, the U.S. eventually found itself as the sole guarantor of human rights and dignity for oppressed people. This new role benefitted the entire world.

In the 1990’s, for example, the U.S. intervened militarily in Kosovo, Somalia, and the Middle East to protect innocent people from oppressive and tyrannical rulers. However, socialist contemporaries Spyros Sakellaropoulos and Panagiotis Sotiris argue that U.S. motives were selfish. They contend that the U.S. in fact sought to enhance “capitalist profitability” and “foreign investment.” While this argument may be partially credible, the socialist elite often fails to recognize the U.S. guarantee of freedom extended to millions of Kosovars, Somalians, and Kuwaitis.

Certainly, the United States has been prudent in its application of force. Its decision to repulse the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia was directly linked to international dependence on free-flowing oil from the Middle East. The global market economy depends heavily on the accessibility of world commodities and consequently compels the U.S. to safeguard free and fair trade globally. Hence, the protection of American trade interests and free-market capitalism around the world remains a primary focus of U.S. foreign policy. The National Security Strategy of the United States verifies this commitment. The National Security Strategy pledges to promote peace and economic prosperity through the exportation of democracy, market capitalism, and the use of force when necessary.

U.S. Security and Global Peace and Prosperity

American benevolent hegemony indeed benefits the entire world. Robert Kagan, a well-known neoconservative, states “the truth is that the benevolent hegemony exercised by the United States is good for a vast portion of the world’s population” and that to undermine U.S. hegemony “would cost many others around the world far more than it would cost Americans.” In fact, billions of people worldwide live safe and prosper under the umbrella of U.S. military might and American-influenced global markets.

Imagine the world without U.S. hegemony. Who would deter nations like North Korea, China, and Iran from attacking their neighbors? For 55 years, an American presence in South Korea has deterred North Korean belligerence. Across the East China Sea, the U.S. 7th Fleet discourages the People’s Republic of China from using military power to force the annexation of the 60-year old democratic de-facto nation of Taiwan. Of course, the American-led Multi-National Force—Iraq continues to ensure freedom and democracy in Iraq while daunting regional Iranian aggression.

Of course, American benevolence abroad arose from the wastelands of post-World War II Europe and Asia. During the Cold War, the U.S. found itself as the sole guarantor of freedom for numerous Asian and European counties threatened by Soviet aggression. America’s ability to influence the world economy and maintain significant military presences in West Germany and Japan allowed its allies to prosper in relative safety.

Over time, American grand strategy of Soviet containment and Western economic prosperity made American hegemony not only palatable, but attractive to friendly nations. They understood that U.S. allies would be subjected to vast amounts of U.S. economic aid. That monetary aid ultimately created powerful economic competitors in Europe and Asia out of the ashes of World War II.

Furthermore, U.S. defense policy during the Cold War ensured U.S. security through the security of its allies. This policy guaranteed the peace and safety of democratic societies globally. Additionally, this benign U.S. hegemony was “augmented for a time by a monopoly of nuclear weapons and the capacity to deliver them.” U.S. policy of nuclear deterrence, for example, dissuaded any Soviet invasion of western Europe. The U.S. continues today to identify its interests and national security with those of its allies. In fact, American prosperity, freedom, and security at home are made possible only by ensuring the same around the world. Accordingly, the U.S. stays the course in Iraq and Afghanistan at the cost of thousands of American lives and hundreds of billions of dollars. This creates an enormous disparity between U.S. funding for Homeland Security and the Global War on Terror in what Robert Kagan accurately describes as “making good” on American “international commitments.” This clearly negates the socialist delusion of a selfish U.S. foreign policy.

Admittedly, the ultimate objective of U.S. hegemony is the advancement of American lives on the home front. No government intends its policies to cripple its nation’s security and economy. However, U.S. policies are meant to also benefit its friends and allies.

Unfortunately, Americans begin to “take the fruits of their hegemonic power for granted” as lengthy prosperity turns into complacency. This results in American ignorance towards growing international resentment of U.S. dominance. It also facilitates the rise of liberal internationalist fantasies of a multipolar world “characterized by a balance among relative equals.”

An Alternative Perspective

The liberal internationalist school of thought is based on the concept of multilateralism, which became popular in the 1990’s due to “an obsession with international legality.” This resulted in the creation of liberal international bodies such as the European Union and World Trade Organization. Unfortunately, multilateral principles have become the mainstay of European politics over the last decade in response to U.S. hegemony. History, however, confirms multilateralism to be unsustainable and impractical.

Multilateralism

The idea of international approval to justify the morality of governmental decisions is mind-boggling. Consider a U.N. Security Council resolution to pose sanctions on another country. The approving nations will probably act in their own interests thereby making suspect any cause for agreement. The
U.N. and E.U. were nonetheless founded on this way of thinking. However, these organizations were not Europe’s earliest “utopian” dream of a “transnational economic era” characterized by a lack of borders, state sovereignty, and military power. The first ended abruptly with “the war to end all wars.”

Yet, liberal internationalists, like Professor Noam Chomsky of MIT, insist that a unipolar world dominated by the U.S. disregards U.N. principles concerning the mutual defense of nations and precipitates a “divided” and “insecure” world. Thus, the multilateralist solution is not state sovereignty, but rather the interdependence of states, which consequently weakens the notion of the nation-state. Multilateralists believe that peace and prosperity are achieved through international cooperation and the application of law. They argue that the United States’ “do-it-alone” attitude, regarding multilateral treaties in particular, discounts the rule of international law and isolates the U.S. from the international community.

While multilateralists strive to replace state sovereignty with international charters, they fail to recognize the infeasibility of a multipolar world. No other nation is currently capable or willing to assume equal responsibility for maintaining global peace and prosperity. This became apparent as European allies slashed their defense budgets and failed to take the lead in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, and Bosnia. Such was also the case at the end of the Cold War when European nations cut military spending to below two percent of their GDPs while they “cashed in on a sizeable peace dividend” paid in full by America. Europe cannot maintain peace and prosperity with an underfunded military force.

Still, Europe demands “multilateral action through the U.N.” and insists on equal say in solving global issues without providing equal funding. Alas, these are typical tactics of weaker nations unwilling to carry their weight on the international stage, though they are eager to be “free riders” on a global “American pax.” They beg for U.S. aid and security during crisis only to resume their usual criticisms thereafter.

Frankly, most nations do not desire multipolarity. The reluctance of foreign powers to increase their world presence speaks to this end. Consider the limited European contribution to the Global War on Terror. Europe’s lack of participation creates a global need for American hegemony since the U.S. is willing to provide a last line of defense for many countries. In fact, American “unipolarity, managed benignly, is far more likely to keep the peace.” Of course, the concept of benignity is subjective.

Impossible Benignity

Felix Ciuta, a social sciences professor at the University College in London, argues that words like “benign” and “benevolent” are not hegemonic since the very nature of hegemony reflects the selfish interests of the hegemon. Critics typically cite the Bush Doctrine of preemption as proof of this argument. They contend, for example, that the Bush Administration’s invasion of Iraq violated Iraq’s sovereignty under pretenses of WMD proliferation and human rights violations in order to secure U.S. interests in the region. Furthermore, critics feel that preemptive war is a war crime since it entails the use of “unrestrained, extra-legal violence.” Thus, its application in the name of human rights and democracy mocks those very principles.

Admittedly, even truly benevolent motives do not always produce beneficent outcomes. The British Empire viewed itself as benevolent; however, its “benign” unilateral actions were often deemed malevolent by its colonies resulting in various independence movements. From 1945 to 1997, British
“benevolence” caused the disintegration of the empire as colonies worldwide broke ties with the English Crown and declared their independence.

However, America’s benevolence is evidenced by its track record. The U.S. successfully mediated peace between nations on numerous occasions. For over 50 years, U.S. efforts diverted various clashes between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East, prevented a second war in Korea, and ensured an autonomous Taiwan. When a situation called for force, the application of U.S. military power was “limited in time and scope” since the nature of American hegemony is ideological, not territorial as it was with the Roman or British Empires. If not, would the U.S. be concerned with exit strategies in the Middle East as it was in Bosnia? America has never entertained delusions of a “One Thousand Year Reich” or a “New Soviet Man.” Instead, America expends its own blood and treasure to extend hope and freedom to billions of people globally.

Conclusion

The world is safer and more prosperous because of U.S. hegemony. The free world enjoys unprecedented economic prosperity while starvation and poverty continue to decline.

Furthermore, the “amicus populi romani,” still call upon the U.S. during times of distress. They require U.S. hegemony for their own self-interests as well as to foster good relations with the world’s superpower. Therefore, the U.S. must exercise benevolent global hegemony, unilaterally if necessary, to ensure its security and maintain global peace and prosperity.

What are the alternatives? A Chinese or Russian hegemony would be unlikely to benefit the rest of the world. A multilateral coalition of nations proved to be ineffective and unsustainable. American isolationism would leave the world vulnerable to tyranny. Ultimately, the future of the world depends on American willingness to guarantee the freedom of others. To quote Ronald Reagan: “We maintain our strength in order to deter and defend against aggression—to preserve freedom and peace.”

The full report with references:


How Donald Trump brought Misery to the Palestinians

Robert Inlakesh is a well-known documentary filmmaker, journalist and Middle East expert, who knows Palestine well, especially the endless crimes Israel is committing there.

In 2020, he filmed, Steal of the Century, a two-part documentary, which chronicled the devasting effects of Donald Trump’s Abraham Accords, a supposed “peace deal,” aka, “the deal of the century,” in which Israel was given everything it needed to destroy more. The supposed author of the deal, Jared Kushner, simply put down everything that Benjamin Netanyahu dictated.

For various reasons, the documentary was banned from Youtube. Given the current, systematic genocide of the Palestinian people by Israel, we thought that it important to allow for this documentary to be seen in its entirety.

Please consider supporting the work of Robert Inlakesh.

Steal of the Century (2020), Part 1.

Steal of the Century (2020), Part 2.

And, here is a backup copy of Parts 1 and 2, just in case:


Jared Kushner’s Great Game

Recently, Jared Kushner, came to his alma mater (Harvard) and gave a lengthy interview to Professor Tarek Masoud, in which he laid out his views on the Middle East.

This interview has been largely derided and thus dismissed or defended. But such attitudes are deceptive. Kushner wields much power and influence and will wield a lot more should Donald Trump again become president in November 2024—he is being touted as Trump’s Secretary of State. We need only recall that Kushner put in place the Abraham Accords, which were devastating for Palestine, but great for Israel.

Therefore, his words should be seriously studied, because they form a blueprint of what a new Trump administration will seek to accomplish in the Middle East—which in a nuthell will be to ensure that Israel is the sole master of the region. To bring this about, American effort will be to destroy Iran, ravage Russia and lay waste to China. These three countries are said to support actors hostile to Israel and thus to America. This is made clear by Kushner. The expected, larger outcome is the usual one—the world run by the USA, with Israel in its habitual role of “enforcer,” and Saudi Arabia ever the loyal lackey, with the various lapdog Gulf States in tow.

Over the course of his commentary, Kushner affirms that Israel indeed has nuclear weapons. Of course, Israel is not supposed to have them, but it is also an open secret that they do.

As for the Palestinians, Kushner reasons that it is hard to tell who is a terrorist among them and who is not. Therefore, they need a strong master to manage them; they are too childish to look after themselves. (Here Kushner’s “role” as a father is key). Kushner understands perfectly what is best for the Palestinians, because “father knows best.”

As for a Palestinian state, Kushner calls it a “super bad idea”—because that would be “rewarding” “bad behavior” (something that Kushner would never do as a Dad). Irresponsible children cannot run countries; more crucially, he sees a Palestinian state as a threat to Israel. That can never be allowed. Besides, if given such a state, the Palestinians would just blow it all up anyway. Better that they stay under the sure hand of Israel and somehow make lots of money. Making lots of money is the moral compass that governs Kushner’s International Relations. Genocide? What genocide? Despite being a father, he has nothing to say about the slaughter of children now being carried out by Israel. To further the cause of “Israel über alles,” the suffering of the Palestinian people can never be acknowledged. Kushner’s best suggestion is that the whole lot of them be transported out and put into some place “bulldozed” into the Negev desert. Out of sight, out of mind.

Behind Kushner’s boyish phraseology hides a grim program, in which the cheery wheeling and dealing is meant to destroy all of Israel’s perceived enemies, no matter who has to suffer in the process (the Palestinians, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Jordan, etc.). In other words, yet more of the master-slave “paradigm” (a word much used by Kushner). The Middle East must belong to Israel, and thereby the USA. It cannot belong to the majority of the people who actually live there.

In the interview, there is no awareness at all of BRICS and multipolarity, let alone the full aspirations of peoples and of nations. There is only the drive for dominance, all packaged as breezy arrogance which demands that the world be run the American way—or else. This is Kushner’s “deal;” it will be the new Great Game of International Relations, should Trump become president.

Thus, we thought that it important to provide a transcript of this interview that it might be the more thoroughly studied, since the written word allows for deeper reflection rather than a video.

Middle East Dialogues. February 15, 2024

Tarek Masoud: All right. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. It’s a great pleasure to welcome you this evening. My name is Tarek Masoud. I am a professor of public policy here at the Kennedy School, and I’m the faculty chair of our Middle East Initiative. It’s really my great pleasure to welcome you to this first in our spring series of what we are calling “Middle East Dialogues,” which are a series of conversations that I’m having with individuals whom I believe hold varied and vital perspectives, not just on the conflict in the region, but on the paths towards a more peaceful and prosperous future for the people of that part of the world.

Our guest this evening is one of the few people on the planet who doesn’t need an introduction, and that’s Mr. Jared Kushner. He was a senior advisor to President Donald Trump from 2017 to 2021, where he handled a number of vital portfolios from prison reform to trade agreements with Canada and Mexico, to our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to the reason that we are here tonight, which is peacemaking in the Middle East.

When I put together this series, Jared Kushner’s name was the very first name on my list, and that’s because he was the architect of the Abraham Accords, which I personally believe to be one of the most significant developments in the Middle East in recent memory. And he’s just generally a deal-maker par excellence. And if there’s any part of the world that I think needs really excellent deal-makers right now, I think it’s the Middle East. So I’m honored that he accepted my invitation to return to Harvard, his old stomping grounds, to have an open and candid conversation about some of the toughest issues on the planet right now.

So, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to talk for about 45 minutes, and then we’ll take questions from my students who I will call on. Those of you who know me know that you should never put a middle-aged Egyptian male in charge of timekeeping. So, I’m going to try to keep everything on time so that we can end at the appointed hour. So, first, ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming Jared Kushner.

Humanitarian Toll in Gaza and Views on Immediate Ceasefire

Jared, thank you so much for being with us. So, I just want to dive right into the war on Gaza.

We all know of the gruesome terrorist attack that happened on October 7th: more than 1,200 innocent Israelis brutally murdered by Hamas terrorists, more than 200 people taken hostages. Prime Minister Netanyahu vowed a fearsome military response, which was designed or intended to make sure that this never happens again. Now, today, four months later, more than 25,000 Palestinians are dead. I can’t tell you what percentage of them are Hamas terrorists, but we know that half of them are women and children. We know that more than a million Gazans are trying to shelter in the south of the country. They’re amassing on the border with Egypt. Many reports indicate that Gazans are now enduring a famine, and Israel is poised to begin a ground operation in Rafah that we think will take many more civilian lives. We know Israel’s being accused of genocide in front of the International Court of Justice, and even President Biden says that the Israeli operation has been over the top. But I’m guessing you don’t support calls for a ceasefire, and I wanted to ask why.

Jared Kushner: Jump right into it, so it’s good. First of all, it’s really great to be here, and thank you for putting on this dialogue on the Middle East. I think it’s a topic that I spent a lot of time, I spent four years working on, when I was in the White House. It wasn’t an issue that I had a lot of experience with, so I really came into it with a blank slate. I wish I’d been in some classes like this and gone to lectures like this when I was at Harvard. Maybe it would’ve actually given me a worse outcome, but…

Tarek Masoud: Wait a minute.

Jared Kushner: But I hope today I’ll share with you some of my experience and perspectives. But I will say that, throughout my time, I was always, a lot of the things that I would say, a lot of the things I would do were fairly heavily complained about or criticized from, I would say, the consensus thinking.

So, I think that, number one, when looking at the current situation, I try to look at everything kind of first principles and I try to say, “What’s going on? What should it be? What are the right actions?” And what I find is that there’s a lot of emotion with this issue. Some of it justified, some of it unjustified for a whole host of it. What I would say is this: I think that, number one, I take a step back and say, “Why are we here?” You go back to 2021, and when I was able to go back to my normal life after leaving office
or four years in service, we basically left the Middle East where it was very calm, right? It was calm, it had momentum. You think about ISIS, they were basically, the caliphate was gone. Syria, the Civil War had mostly stabilized in the sense that you didn’t have to think 500,000 people were killed.

When we started, Yemen was destabilized, Libya was destabilized. ISIS had a caliphate the size of Ohio, and Iran was flushed with cash. They were basically using that money to fund Hamas, to fund Hezbollah, to fund the Houthis, and they run a glide path to a nuclear weapon.

So, we inherited a really, really bad hand. And then with the JCPOA agreement, which was probably one of the dumbest agreements I think ever negotiated, just as anyone who studies agreements and deals, that really left us in a bad situation. So, we worked hard. We tried to regain trust. We did a lot of work. And we could talk about that later.
But the way we left the region was basically, we had six peace deals in the last six months that we were there, less, I think in the last maybe four or five months that we were there.

So, we took a different approach to the Palestinians. We were able to make peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, and then with Bahrain than Sudan, then Kosovo was able to recognize Morocco. And then finally, we resolved the GCC dispute, which put everything on a pretty good glide path. Iran was basically broke. They were out of a foreign currency reserves, which meant that no money was going to any of these terrorist organizations.

And then in addition to that, the Palestinians basically were out of money too. We’d stopped funding UNRWA. We saw that UNRWA was basically taking the money that we were giving them to the United Nations. It was taxpayer dollars that we were giving to United Nations. We thought it was going to fund terrorists, to give them energy, to give them resources.

We saw a lot of their schools, and their mosques were basically where they would hide the bombs and the missiles and their munitions. And we thought the education that they were giving was really a very, very poor education that was radicalizing the next generation. So, we said, “Okay, there we go.”

So, basically, we thought that the right thing to do basically was to stop funding that, and that was the way that we wanted to kind of advance. So, we went forward, we were able to create the peace deals.

Then you kind of move forward in the region, three years, we thought that Saudi had the ability to do a normalization deal, and we had worked with the Biden administration in order to help them get that pathway, to follow the pathway that we were in.

So, now you forward three years, you have the attack, which was awful. Through not enforcing the sanctions on Iran, they were able to get funding, which they were able to then give to all these different groups. You saw a lot more rise up in the extremism. And I think that America not standing with Israel in the way that they should be led to a lot of this occurring. So, you have a situation now where Israel has the right to defend itself, right? They’re in a position where they had a brutal attack. I mean, imagine America, somebody coming over the border, brutally raping, killing civilians, doing all these different things. I mean, that’s something that I think would be quite horrific for a lot of us. And then I think the sentiment was basically, how do we put this in a position where we attack back? So, I think that what Israel’s done is they’re saying, “How do we secure ourselves this doesn’t happen again?”

Obviously one death is too many deaths. You don’t want any deaths in Israel. You don’t want deaths of Palestinians. But I think right now, the situation is a complex one. But I do hope that with the right leadership, they’ll be able to find the right way to get it to a better place.

Ideas for Ending the Crisis

Tarek Masoud: This was great, because you definitely preempted one question that I was going to ask you, which was, President Trump has been saying that this would never have happened on his watch. But before we get to that, I just want to think about this problem for a minute. One thing I associate Jared Kushner with is creative deal-making, thinking outside the box. Do you have a proposal or an idea or a sketch for how we end this crisis?

Jared Kushner: Sure. So, I think that the dilemma that Israeli leadership has right now is, do you do a short-term deal that leaves you more vulnerable in the future? Or do you take this current situation and try to figure out a way where you can create a paradigm, where your citizens will be safe and this will not happen again? So, it’s a very, very tough dilemma to be faced with if you are the leader of a country.

So, what I would do right now if I was Israel is, I would try to say, number one, you want to get as many civilians out of Rafah as possible. I think that you want to try to clear that out. I know that with diplomacy, maybe you get them into Egypt. I know that that’s been refused. But with the right diplomacy, I think it would be possible.

But in addition to that, the thing that I would try to do if I was Israel right now is I would just bulldoze something in the Negev. I would try to move people in there. I know that won’t be the popular thing to do, but I think that that’s a better option to do so you can go in and finish the job.

I think there was one decision point they had. Do we go into Gaza? Do we not go into Gaza? They had the hostages. There really was, I think, no choice but to do that. I think that they were smart to go slowly and deliberately. Gaza is a booby trapped like crazy; they have over 400 miles of underground tunnels.

So, I think that they’ve taken some of the right steps in order to go there but you have to, again, I think Israel’s gone way more out of their way than a lot of other countries would to try to protect civilians from casualties. But I do think right now, opening up the Negev, creating a secure area there, moving the civilians out and then going in and finishing the job would be the right move.

Ideas for Sheltering Palestinians from Gaza Bombardment

Tarek Masoud: Is that something that they’re talking about in Israel? I mean, that’s the first I’ve really heard of somebody, aside from President Sisi suggesting that the Gazans who are trying to flee the fighting could take refuge in the Negev. Are people in Israel seriously talking about that possibility, about hosting Gazan refugees
in what is considered “Israel proper?”

Jared Kushner: I don’t know. I mean…

Tarek Masoud: But that would be something you would try to work on?

Jared Kushner: I’m sitting in Miami Beach right now, and I’m looking at this situation and I’m just thinking, what would I do if I was there? Again, you look at, I mean, with Israel it’s a different thing. In Syria when there’s refugees, Turkey took them, Europe took them, Jordan took them.

For whatever reason here in Gaza, there’s refugees from the fighting from an offensive attack that was staged from Gaza, Israel’s going in to do a long-term deterrence mission, and it’s unfortunate that nobody’s taking the refugees. Again, I think that the American government should probably have done a little bit of a better job to find a solution to that. As a broker, I think that there would’ve been a way, but if that’s not a viable option, I think from Israel’s perspective, it’s just something that should be strongly considered.

Fears that Netanyahu will not allow fleeing Gazans to return

Tarek Masoud: Yeah, yeah. I mean, obviously the reason they’re not, for example, the reason the Egyptians don’t want to take the refugees in addition to, of course, there being the domestic unrest that could result or the instability that could result, but also there are real fears on the part of Arabs, and I’m sure you talk to a lot of them who think once Gazans leave Gaza, Netanyahu’s never going to let them back in.

Jared Kushner: Maybe, but I’m not sure there’s much left of Gaza at this point. So, if you think about even the construct like Gaza, Gaza was not really a historical precedent. It was the result of a war. You had tribes that were in different places, but then Gaza became a thing. Egypt used to run it, and then over time you had different governments that came in different ways. So, you have another war. Usually when wars happen, borders are changed historically over time.

So, my sense is, is I would say, how do we deal with the terror threat that is there so that it cannot be a threat to Israel or to Egypt? I think that both sides are spending a fortune on military. I think neither side really wants to have a terrorist organization enclaved right between them.

Gaza’s waterfront property, it could be very valuable to, if people would focus on building up livelihoods. You think about all the money that’s gone into this tunnel network and into all the munitions. If that would’ve gone into education or innovation, what could have been done.

So, I think that it’s a little bit of an unfortunate situation there but I think from Israel’s perspective, I would do my best to move the people out and then clean it up.

But I don’t think that Israel has stated that they don’t want the people to move back there afterwards.

Should the US Recognize a Palestinian State

Tarek Masoud: Yeah, yeah. I mean, okay, there’s a lot to talk about there. The last thing I wanted to just get your reaction to on this is the… you saw Tom Friedman’s column on Tuesday about where he put forward a plan to get out of this, and it’s called, “Only MBS and Biden can Redirect the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” He says, “Biden should recognize the Palestinian authority unilaterally as a state, and MBS should go to Jerusalem like Egyptian President Anwar Sadat did in 1977. He should say, I’ll normalize with Israel. I’ll recognize West Jerusalem as your capital, and I’ll even pay to rebuild Gaza if you recognize a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.” What do you think? Good idea?

Jared Kushner: No, I don’t think that’s a good idea. I think that there’s certain elements of it that are correct. I think proactively recognizing a Palestinian state would essentially be rewarding an act of terror that was perpetrated to Israel. So, it’s a super bad idea in that regard.

The way that we did it was a little bit inverted from there. So, when we were working on the Palestinian issue, which we spent a lot of time on, and up until October 7th, the Biden administration really did not burn a lot of calories on it. They basically said, this is a lost effort, we shouldn’t spend time on it, but we spent a lot of time developing a plan.

You go online, go Google Peace to Prosperity, you’ll find the plan that we put out in the White House, about 180 pages, very detailed. We started out, I met with the Palestinian negotiators, the Israeli negotiators, and I asked them basically a form of simple questions.

First identify, what are these people actually fighting over for 70 years? It came down to a list of 11 issues, of which there were only really three of them. One was the land barrier. I looked down and I said, well, any outcome is arbitrary, to compromise between two positions. You have the religious sites where they threw in a lot of issues like sovereignty. Does sovereignty belong to God? Does it belong to this? You have basically two sites, one under the other that both religions think is very critical to them. But I said, well, what do we really want if we get all the technical people out of the room? What we want is people to have the ability to pray freely. If you think about Israel, Jerusalem was really controlled by Jordan until the 1967 war.

1967 War

Israel took over; it was a defensive war. Israel was attacked by Jordan. They basically came in, attacked by Egypt and Jordan.

Tarek Masoud: Preemptive.

Jared Kushner: Preemptive, but Egypt was amassing all of its planes on the border. Jordan had given over its military under the control of the Iraqis at the time. So, what they did is they did a preemptive attack, they knocked out the Egyptian Air Force. They sent message to the Jordanians saying, please do not attack us. The Jordanians started mortaring in.

They basically then went over; they took over Jerusalem. They were surprised they got so far, and they kept going and were able to go all the way to the sea. So, that was the history of where that was. But before then, no Jews were allowed to pray in Jerusalem.

Then you basically had a situation where a lot of the Jewish cemeteries, a lot of the religious sites were used as places to store animals. They were really desecrated in bad ways. Israel then wins the war. Israel’s a very, very poor country at the time. What did they do? The first thing they do is they pass something called the Protection of Holy Places Law, which basically took money that they really didn’t have at the time and said, we’re going to restore all of the religious sites. So, if you think about it, from 1967 until today, Israel’s been a fairly responsible steward of all these religious sites for Christians, Jews, Muslims.

Every now and then you have tussles when people try to take it. They’ve allowed King Abdullah to be the custodian of the mosque. If you think about that second issue, it’s really just about allowing people to live freely.

The third issue that I thought was critical was really just security. You think about it, I mean, we think about it with different countries, but imagine you’re the governor of New Jersey. Then there’s people in Pennsylvania who are trying to cross the border and kill your people. You have to make a deal where you’re making it less likely they’re going to be able to harm your people than more. Otherwise, you’re not going to be able to win an election and it’s not a prudent thing to do. So, those are really only the three issues that mattered.

So, what we did is we basically went and we said, asked each side, if you were the other side, what would you accept?

I found we weren’t getting anywhere so I started giving them much more detailed plan to react to.

We started going back and forth. It ended up turning into a 50-page operational plan on how to run things. By the way, you’ll find most people in politics don’t want to put details out because details you get attacked, when I got attacked even for taking my job. So I, after the third day, stopped caring about being attacked.

So, I basically said, let me start putting things out and get people to react to it. So, that was the first part, which was the political part.

The second thing we put together was an economic plan because as I was progressing down that road, I said, okay, let’s say miraculously I get people to agree on borders. Let’s say I get them to agree on a security regime. Let’s say I get them to agree that we could all pray properly and respect each other. Then what happens the next day? A lot of the region, a lot of what Israel’s been used for has been a scapegoat, I believe, from leaders in the region to basically deflect from their own shortcomings at home. So, I felt like most human beings want the ability to live a better life, and if we can create an economic plan that would basically allow people to live a better life, then maybe that would give them an ability to actually start focusing on the future, how to make their kids’ lives better, instead of focusing on, how do we solve problems in the past? So, that was really what we put together, and so that was really a framework for how we thought we could make progress. So, what Tom’s talking about is basically saying, why don’t we recognize a Palestinian state?

When we were looking at a Palestinian state, the problem we saw there was basically that they didn’t have really institutions that can govern. I mean, the last person actually who did a good job governing there is actually here. It’s Salam Fayyad. He was doing such a good job, he wasn’t corrupt. People were making more money; the services were being delivered. He did such a good job that the leadership basically saw him as a threat and figured out how to run him out of town. I don’t know if I’m speaking for you, but it did.

Tarek Masoud: I think he might also say the Israelis didn’t help them either. But anyways, we’ll go.

Jared Kushner: These are also complicated. I mean, that’s true.

Tarek Masoud: That’s one word.

Jared Kushner: But what I would say here is that for a Palestinian state when we looked at it, you say, what are the prerequisites that people need to live a better life? Number one is you need a functioning judiciary. You need a business climate. You need property rights. You need reasons for people to invest capital in order to order to give people an opportunity to grow. So, those conditions really don’t exist. So, the Palestinian leadership really has not passed any of the tests over the last 30 years in order to, I think, qualify for it.

Now, I do think the notion of a Palestinian state that doesn’t have the ability to harm Israel from a security perspective is a worthy objective, but I think you need to figure out, how do you make them earn it? At least have a viable pathway towards creating the institutions that can make it thrive and viable, because if you call it a state and then people, their lives are less good in five years from now, people will be angry and that will lead to more violence and conflict.

How Did We Get to October 7th?

Tarek Masoud: Okay, so there’s a lot of threads to pull on here. So the first thread I just want to pull on is, you offered a diagnosis for how we got to October 7th, and your diagnosis is basically the Biden administration by allowing the Iranians to amass more wealth and spend it on their proxies, that’s how you get October 7th. If President Trump had been in charge, none of that would’ve happened; the Iranians would’ve continued to be starved of resources, et cetera. I’m correct on interpreting that hypothesis?

Jared Kushner: Yeah. I’ll add one more element, which is they squandered momentum. What I would say is whether it’s in business, whether it’s in politics, momentum is one of the most valuable things to try to seek. It’s funny, I was talking, I wrote about it in my book; actually, with Bibi, that I was with him after he lost an election, not a lost election, he was trying to form a coalition. Somebody put a knife in his back and he basically lost it.

I was with him the next day. We thought we were going to announce something and move forward, and he was pretty despondent. We met the next day, and he would basically, I figured, let me ask him questions about his history, his story. I mean, he’s a historic figure that’s been through so many different iterations, and he told me, “When I was a politician, I have bad patches. I would always try to get little wins because little wins lead to bigger wins and then bigger wins and momentum is a very hard thing to get.”

We left the region with momentum. Again, the last piece, so we got Bahrain to do the deal with Israel. Saudi was basically watching this all very closely. We got Saudi to allow us to put flights over Saudi Arabia between Israel and UAE.

Then in addition to that, they’ve said, we need you to solve the issue with us in Qatar. So, we went through, we got that negotiation done, which was very, very intense.

So, I finished that on January 5th and then flew back to the US, thinking I would have a very quiet last couple of weeks in office. That turned out to be the case. So, basically, everything was good. What they could have done was then said, let’s sit with Saudi. Let’s go finish the job. Let’s finish the momentum. So, they basically changed policy, and I think that led to a reversion of momentum. They waited two years to get started, and then get a stronger Iran, less trust, and I think that also contributed to it as well.

Was October 7th the Result of Neglect of the Palestinian Issue under Trump?

Tarek Masoud: Okay, so what would you say to the alternative hypothesis that says, actually, the reason we got October 7th is because the strategy that you had for peacemaking, which whose creativity I’m not going to question, it was quite creative, but by essentially neglecting the core of the issue, the Palestinians’ desire to determine their own fate, that you just created the circumstances where the rejectionists would have the upper hand. That this is basically not the result of Iran or whatever, it’s a result of the fact that the Trump administration spent four years completely ignoring, isolating, bypassing the Palestinians, handing them defeat after defeat after defeat. Then what do you expect? You’re surprised when they act out?

Jared Kushner: Right. So, what I would say to that is that whoever would say that, that we didn’t address the root cause of the situation, I don’t think truly understood what the root cause of the situation actually is. This is what was actually so intriguing to me and what made me very insecure about my job in the beginning was that I came into this with, like I said, no foreign policy experience.

Everyone who was criticizing was probably right, but I think my father-in-law, who’s the President, basically said, it can’t get any worse. He can’t do any worse than the last people who worked on it for 10 or 15 years and all failed, and then basically went and wrote books about how they didn’t fail.

It’s just that the problem was too hard, and then somehow, they move on and they are considered the experts on the situation, having had zero accomplishments on this file.

So, that’s the underlying function of what you’re talking about. I saw this very simple, and actually when I went to the United States, the UN Security Council, because always trying to condemn Israel on everything, it was very anti-Semitic, I think the way that they conduct their business there.

I basically made a PowerPoint presentation. I don’t know if anyone’s ever made them a PowerPoint presentation, but coming from the business world, I said, maybe I can try to explain to these people why this is a rational thing in a very realistic place. I actually put this slide in my book where I basically made a slide from Oslo Accords up until that day, where I showed two lines going this way. Then I had a dove for every time there was a peace talk that failed.

Then I had a tank for every time there was a war. The two lines represented the following things: One was the settlements; so, basically the land that Israel was taking. Then the other one represented money going to the Palestinians. So, what happened was, is every time a peace talk failed or a war occurred, the same two things occurred. The Palestinians got more money and the Israelis took more land. So, both sides essentially got what they wanted.

So, neither I thought had a really motivation to make the deal based on their own politics and their own interests. Then the second thing was, is I looked at it and I said, these issues actually are not that hard to solve. Which again, a lot of people laughed at me for saying that, but I basically said, we have to figure out how to just push this forward.

So, when I looked at the Palestinian leadership, I basically said it’s like… And there’s a lot of other situations of refugee groups; they just haven’t been able to internationalize their situation. The Palestinians were getting $3 or $4 billion a year in international aid. We had a meeting in Washington with Bibi Netanyahu. They have a $500 billion GDP economy; they’re a nuclear power, military superpower, a technology superpower.

He would fly in on an El-Al commercial plane with his team. We’d meet with the head of a refugee group, Mohammed Abbas, and he would fly into Washington on a $60 million Boeing business jet. I mean, the whole thing was strange. I went and I met with him one night.

We’re talking about different issues and he wants a cigarette. He puts a cigarette in his mouth. So, someone comes in and they light the cigarette for him. I’m saying to myself, is this guy run a refugee group or is he a king? So, the whole situation, I thought, was designed for them not to solve it.

Again, a lot of people were getting rich there, a lot of interests were being fed, and not a lot of people were doing it.

So, what we basically said is, we’re going to actually address the issue. We’re not going to deal with the systems of the issue, we’re going to try to address the issue. I think that was what we actually tried to do.

Why is Kushner’s Assessment of Mahmoud Abbas so Different from Trump’s?

Tarek Masoud: Okay, so there’s a lot to pull on here too, with respect to Mohammed Abbas. So, I’m going to just stipulate at the outset, some of my favorite bits of this book are your descriptions of conversations with Mohammed Abbas. I’m not on his list of fans, but let me quote somebody who is on his list of fans, your father-in-Law. So, he told Barak Ravid, “Abbas: I thought he was terrific. He was almost like a father. Couldn’t have been nicer. I thought he wanted to make a deal more than Netanyahu.”

What was your father-in-law getting wrong?

Jared Kushner: Well, I think he was saying relative.

Tarek Masoud: Okay, relative.

Jared Kushner: Relative, so.

Tarek Masoud: Okay, relative to Netanyahu though.

Jared Kushner: His view on Bibi was that Bibi was always working something. I think that he did not have faith that Bibi would come through, but I also think he was in his mind trying to challenge Bibi to say, you’re not going to come through, you’re not going to come through, to make Bibi prove to him that he was going to come through. That was the way we were setting the table. So, what we did is we did things that we wanted to do anyway.

President Trump campaigned that he was going to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. His view was, is Israel’s a sovereign nation, America’s a sovereign nation, they have the right to determine their capital and we have the right to recognize their capital. Move the embassy to Jerusalem, Golan Heights. I mean, who are you taking it from? Syria barely existed at the time and Israel had occupied it for a long time.

Recognizing Golan wasn’t that big of a deal. So, we did all these things that built a lot of trust for us with the Israeli public.

What happened was, is because of that, the Israeli public trusted President Trump, he got out of the JCPOA, he was strong on Iran. He felt that he had the ability to say this is a fair deal, and push Bibi to that place. A boss would come and in the meetings he would say, “We’re going to do a deal with you. We’re going to do a special deal. I’m going to do things for you like I’ve never done for anybody else. We’re going to make a deal.
We really want to do it.”

I’d be like, oh, that’s amazing. So, that was my first meeting. I walked away and be like, that was incredible. This guy is great.

Then I went from my second meeting, I go all the way to Ramallah. I go in, it’s, I’m thinking to myself, how is a Jewish kid from New Jersey here in Ramallah?

I got all the security guards. Then I meet with him again and I say, “Okay, well, I’m ready to talk borders. What are we going to do? What’s your proposal? I want you to tell me what would you do that you think the Israelis would accept?”

“Jared, we’re going to make a deal. We’re going to make the best deal. I’m going to make a special deal for you.”

I’m saying myself, I really want to get into the details here.

My father-in-Law’s not a very patient person. What I found was it was like a broken record. What I realized, if you go back, what I did at some point, I read actually Jimmy Carter’s book, which was interesting. I really wanted to get the full-

Tarek Masoud: Peace, not Apartheid [Palestine: Peace not Apartheid], or something like that.

Jared Kushner: Peace, not Apartheid. Yeah, I tried to get everywhere from Dory Gold to Jimmy Carter. I really tried to get the spectrum of perspectives. In the back of it, he had in the annex, the Camp David Peace Agreement.

I was reading through the agreement. I was like, I actually should go read all the different drafts of agreements and let me go read some peace agreements to see what they actually are.

Everyone’s there trying to negotiate, but I said, let me go read some.

So, then as I pulled up all of the different agreements that have been done, I saw the Arab Peace Initiative, and that’s what Abbas said, “I want to align with the Arab Peace Initiative.” So, I pulled up the Arab Peace Initiative and it was 10 lines and it had no detail, and it was a concept, and it was generated in a different place.

One of the tenets of it was, we want a capital in East Jerusalem. So, I had a guy on my team who was awesome, a guy Scott Lith, he was a military guy, and I said, he worked for John Kerry. His whole life has been working on this issue, but he was from the State Department, which was a much more, a different perspective than say a former business guy who’s more of a pragmatist would have.

East Jerusalem as Palestinian Capital

I asked him, I said, “Well, where does the Palestinian claim for East Jerusalem come from?”

Tarek Masoud: You mean East Jerusalem as a capital?

Jared Kushner: As a capital, yes.

Tarek Masoud: Not as belonging to them.

Jared Kushner: Sorry, as a capital. I said, “Where does that come from?” He says, “I actually don’t know.” I said, “Okay, well, go research and get back to me.”

Normally he’d be back in my office in two hours. He didn’t come back for two days. He basically came back and he says, “You know what, Jared? This is very interesting.” He said, “Before the Palestinians said that they were in charge of the West Bank,” which basically was the declaration, which I think was in the late ’80s?

Tarek Masoud: Yeah, late ’88.

Jared Kushner: Late ’80s, right?

Tarek Masoud: ’88, I think.

Jared Kushner: So, until then, the Palestinian lands were basically territory of Jordan. Jordan, the Palestinians were basically fighting with the Jordanians causing problems there, and the Jordanians basically said, we’ve had enough of these people, let’s get them out of here. They basically exiled Yasser Arafat to Lebanon, where he went there, caused a lot of trouble, they exiled him to Tunisia.

So, during that time when the Palestinians were in the West Bank, their capital was Amman.

So, he’s saying, actually, it was just through this declaration of the Palestinians when they said, this is how we’re forming our charter. This is what our rights are. They just said, and we’re taking East Jerusalem as our capital. So, it was just one of these things that came down.

Tarek Masoud: Declaring East Jerusalem as their capital.

Jared Kushner: Declare, yeah.

Tarek Masoud: In other words, East Jerusalem was always going to be part of what a Palestinian state was because they had never ceded it.

Jared Kushner: Yeah, part, but what I would say about that, and this is also another notion, is that, again, because a lot of, you’ll hear people throw around a lot of words like they’ll throw apartheid or East Jerusalem [inaudible]. My view is, these words are always up here.

Then again, somebody who wasn’t part of the club of foreign policy experts, I said, well, explain this to me. East Jerusalem, the boundaries of East Jerusalem have changed eight times over the course of history as well.

So, when they were saying that, I said, oh, well, there’s new, maybe we could expand East Jerusalem, give them a different part of it. So, it’s one of these things that if you’re pragmatic about it, there’s ways to solve a lot of these different issues, if you want to do it.

What we found with Abbas was that there wasn’t a great desire to engage because he was protecting the status quo, which was leading to lots of inflows of money.

Challenging Kushner’s Assessment of Abbas

Tarek Masoud: Okay, so I do not want to be the guy defending Abbas to just make this interesting. Let me-

Jared Kushner: I like him, personally.

Tarek Masoud: Let me offer you the alternative argument. First of all, there’s a really amazing negotiator who said you always let the other guy go first. Who was that? Oh, it was Jared Kushner, it’s in this book. Okay. So, you go to Abbas and you say, Hey, draw a map for me. A smart negotiator is going to say, Hey, the map is resolution 242, the entire West Bank. If you’ve got an offer you want to make, go ahead, but I’m certainly not going to negotiate against myself. Why didn’t you recognize that that’s what he was doing?

Jared Kushner: Yeah, so that’s what I saw was this kid’s situation. So, what I did was, since both parties were doing that, I just went and started drawing my own map. I basically said, okay, I don’t really care what happened before, because if you think about the Middle East, a lot of it’s just arbitrary lines drawn by foreigners anyway. You go back to Sykes-Picot, and you could argue that there’s a lot of lines.

Again, as I started unraveling this history, I was realizing that a lot of this was not as logical or as sacrosanct as everyone thought it was. So, what I basically said is I said, okay, let me come up with a 2017 version.

What I’m basically going to do is look at, say, if you go back to 2006, Israel unilaterally withdrew all of their settlers from Gaza, and it was a political disaster. What did they get for it? They left all these greenhouses; they left all this industry. It was all destroyed. They ended up with a group, with a terrorist group took over, and then since then they’ve
been firing rockets into Israel and Israel’s been less safe because of their withdrawal, and October 7th proved that.

But this was even before that. I said, there is no way Israel’s uprooting any of these settlers. So, I said, let me just say if I want to give the Palestinians a state, let me figure out how can I draw a line and just take all the places where they’re settlers and just make a new line here, and then figure out, how do you swap land here and there?

Then make whatever’s not continuous, continuous today. You got tunnels, you got bridges, all these different things. How do you make it connectable so that it could be a functioning state? Then go from there. So, I started drawing a line, and then I figured I’d let each party react to it one way or the other.

We ended up putting it out. Again, I fought a lot with Bibi and his team, through showing him the map. You can’t have this; you can’t have that.

I said, okay, let’s move the line here and there, but that was how I started. I was never able to get the Palestinians to engage off of that map to say, we want this, but.

Did Kushner make Abbas an Offer He could not Accept?

Tarek Masoud: Yeah, so this is interesting. I mean, obviously you’re a great negotiator. I’m a fat professor who’s never even negotiated his salary properly, but-

Jared Kushner: That’s usually what the people who are doing well say, by the way.

Tarek Masoud: But the way you present, I did think it was, you really deserve a lot of credit for getting Benjamin Netanyahu to put down on paper the borders of a Palestinian state that he would accept. Okay, you’re the first person to really get them to do that.

Jared Kushner: Not just him; we got the opposition during a heated election to agree to them as well.

Tarek Masoud: To agree to it, to agree to it.

Jared Kushner: A massive step forward.

Tarek Masoud: Yeah, massive step forward. One of the great things that you say in this book, by the way, which I actually think is exculpatory of the Palestinians, is you say, everybody says, Camp David 2000, the Palestinians walked away from a really detailed agreement. There wasn’t a detailed agreement. So, that’s actually a little bit exculpatory for the Palestinians, but in any case, you finally get Benjamin Netanyahu to put down on paper, what he will accept.

Jared Kushner: Just from my research, I was not able to find any text of a deal that was anywhere near close to a negotiation. I also thought the power dynamics were different, where is what I was told is that Arafat was basically not being supported by the Arabs. The Arabs wanted to keep this thing alive and they didn’t want him to make a deal.

Whereas today, when we got in, I recognized the different dynamic, where the Arabs I felt wanted him to finish this, which gave me a lot more ability to lean into things.

Tarek Masoud: Yeah, that’s interesting, but the point is, so you’ve got now Benjamin Netanyahu’s drawn the map. Why do you not take this to Abbas or why do you not announce this as the American plan to which the Israelis have signed on? You are the American; you’ve got this position as the broker between these two parties. Why didn’t you go back to Abbas and say, okay, here’s what the Israeli position? Then let Abbas say, okay, no, I don’t like this border, I don’t like that. Then why didn’t you do it that way?
Why did you present it in such a way where it looked like what you were trying to do was to give him an offer he couldn’t accept, so that you could then say to the other Arabs, ah, this guy’s a rejectionist, I did my best. Can we now conclude some peace deals directly between you and the Israelis and leave these Palestinians on the side?

Jared Kushner: I’ll try to do this answer as short as possible, but it’s going to be a little one. So, number one, what I tried to do is set up the situation. So, when we moved the embassy to Jerusalem, Abbas and his team said, we’re not talking to you guys anymore. After a couple months, they came back. We kept the security cooperation going, but he broke ties with us diplomatically. I remember at the time, Rex Tillerson, who was the Secretary of State, said, “We’ve got to go do something. Let’s give East Jerusalem. Let’s do this because these guys are going to run away and we’re not going to hear from them again for another decade.”

I said, “Rex, we’re not doing it.” He said, “Why?” I said, “They’ve trained American negotiators over time to say, jump, and we say, how high?”

When have American negotiators bowed to Palestinian demands?

Tarek Masoud: I read that in the book, and I thought that was an extraordinary. Give me an example of where we said to the Palestinians, you told us jump and we did it.

Jared Kushner: Everything with me was a threat. “We’re going to withdraw from the negotiation.” I said, “Who cares? We give you guys $700 million a year. I don’t care.” My view is, if you’re going to come and do it, great. If not, we’re going to stop funding you guys. But that’s how we’re going to set the dynamic. So, then the second thing I did was I said, “We’re not going to allow you to control whether we can negotiate this or not.” So, because they withdrew, I said, “Okay, I could stop.” Now, the good news is I had other files to work on.

I wasn’t a sole person, but the reason why the U.S were trained to chase them is usually it was an envoy whose sole job it was to deal with the Israelis and the Palestinians. And the Palestinians said, “We’re not negotiating.” He had nothing to do. For me, I said, “Okay, I’ll work on other things. That’s okay. I have other jobs here.”

And so, what we basically did was we went and we started pushing forward with the plan.

And my thinking was, as I was speaking to the Arabs, they said, “Get an honest plan on paper from Israel and we will try to push the Palestinians to take it.”

Because they basically said, we want this thing resolved. So, they said, if you can put a credible offer, and they did not believe that we can get Bibi or United Israel to put forward a credible plan, I said, “Good, let’s do it.” Again, I was always willing to chase the crazy things and I kind of liked it.

And again, I felt like this was very important. So going after and trying to settle things I thought was critical.

So, we worked hard with Israel. We kept negotiating with them to get them more and more. I didn’t take them all the way to where I thought we could have gone. Security wise, I was in full agreement with everything we put in our plan. Again, I really was very sympathetic to Israel.

You can’t make a peace deal and then be less safe the next day. You do a deal so that you’re more safe. So that was number one.

The borders, I felt like we should just be super pragmatic about it. And there was a couple of things in there that I knew we could swap around. So, I left some meat on the bone for Abbas. I’m going to get to the answer to your question. So, I kind of left some meat on the bone.

Then when we announced the plan; so first of all, we surprised everyone by getting Israel to put out a very detailed plan.

We had a unified Israeli government supporting it. We got very positive statements from the Arab country saying, we encourage both sides to negotiate on the base of this plan, which diplomatically, was actually a very big step forward in the diplomatic world.

Then what I did is I had the CIA deliver to Abbas a copy of the plan with a note from us right beforehand, basically saying, this is the plan we’re putting out. We have built a lot of goodwill with Israel. We are willing to use that goodwill to try to make a fair deal that we think can resolve this.

Tarek Masoud: That’s the question I’m asking. So, why that framing? Why didn’t you say, here’s what the Israelis are offering. Give me your counteroffer. Why didn’t you do that?

Jared Kushner: That’s essentially what the letter said, right? The letter basically from the president said, we’re happy to chat. And basically we said, look, we’re happy to chat. We’re moving forward with this. We had to set the dynamic where the train was moving forward with or without him, and this is what I do believe, too. They were very isolated. They were basically running out of cash. Iran was running out of cash, and we had the only thing on the table. The Abraham Accords were now starting to collapse the pocket around them.

And so basically what we were doing is we were trying to eliminate all of his escape paths and build him a golden bridge. And then basically, at some point we figured he’d go over the bridge.

Did Kushner Prove Hamas and Others Right?

Tarek Masoud: I feel like the natural response to that is very clever deal making. I certainly would not want to be on the opposite side of a real estate transaction with you. But what you weren’t recognizing is that Abbas has people to his right, he’s got Hamas that he’s got to contend with, and you were just making it absolutely impossible for him to make a deal with you. And all you were doing here is just proving the rejectionist point and making the average Palestinian think, yeah, absolutely. America has no intention of actually being an honest broker or getting us a good deal.
Look what they’re doing to Abbas, who is their ally. So then, maybe the only path is the path of this violent resistance.

Jared Kushner: So, I hope you’re saying that in the context of being provocative or devil’s advocate-

Tarek Masoud: Yes, yes.

Jared Kushner: Because my sense is that’s the total conventional way of thinking about this. And again, I’m saying this openly. I was criticized by all of the conventional players on this because I did not approach this-

Tarek Masoud: But October 7th happened.

Jared Kushner: Right. But let me go back to that point. So, the point there is that the other version of what was said is that if you move the MC to Jerusalem, the Middle East is going to have a war. That was the US intelligence assessment. That was what Abbas said. That’s what every leader in the region said. If you get out of the JCPOA, the world’s going to end. If you move the embassy, the world’s going to end.

Well, every time we did one of those things, we worked to mitigate the risk. And what happened the next day? The sun rose in the morning and it set in the evening, and nothing happened. We had little things, we managed them. It was no big deal. So, our thinking was is that if you’re going to say that Abbas can’t engage with us and try to make a compromise because Hamas is to his other side, we thought the best way to empower him over Hamas was to make him the guy who delivered investment, upside, compromise, better life for the people. And that’s how we read the situation back in 2019, 2020.

And I still believe at that moment our assessment was correct.

Why did Kushner not Try to Build Capital with the Palestinians?

Tarek Masoud: Yeah. I want to move on to other issues, but I just want to, when I look at the way you negotiated with Bibi, okay, so you mentioned, for example, to move the embassy to Jerusalem, for example. Every time you made one of these decisions and President Trump would say, Hey, what am I getting for this? You want me to move the embassy to Jerusalem, what’s Bibi going to give me? Oh, you want me to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan? I’ve already done enough for Bibi. Why am I going to do this? And every time you would say to the president, Hey, hey, hey, we’re building capital with the Israelis. We’re building capital with Bibi. Why weren’t you trying to build capital with the Palestinians?

Jared Kushner: First of all, Israel was the much stronger party. And so, at the end of the day, we felt like getting the right pragmatic compromises out of them would take the capital and we would have to convince them that the compromises we were going to ask them to take, we genuinely believed were in their interests.

Keep in mind, all of the things we did for Bibi were things that we thought were the right things to do. So, he was a political beneficiary of them. He would tout them for his domestic and international popularity. But the reality is, we were doing things that we thought were the right things to do.

Why didn’t Kushner get Netanyahu to Freeze Settlements?

Tarek Masoud: Why didn’t you at least get him to freeze settlements? Say like, Hey, I’m going to give you Jerusalem. I’m going to recognize the Golan.

Jared Kushner: If you notice with us, the settlements were basically contained to areas. He did pro forma stuff, but nothing that was that radical. He didn’t go too crazy with us in the settlements.

Tarek Masoud: Okay.

Jared Kushner: But again, our strategy was basically have the tough conversations quietly, figure out how to mitigate. Again, you could have disagreement, but let’s focus on the big things. I remember I got a call from David Friedman, who’s our ambassador to Israel and said, “Oh, Jared, we have to deal with this. Two Israelis were [inaudible].” I said, “David, stop chasing rabbits.” I said, “Our job is not to solve every single domestic Israeli issue. Our job is to focus on the elephants. The elephants are slower, they’re bigger. Let’s focus on the root cause of this. If we solve the root causes of the disease, the symptoms all go away. If you spend all of your time chasing the symptoms, you’re going to wear yourself out, you’re not going to get anywhere.” And that’s what a lot of people did before us. So, we stayed very laser-focused on how do we make both sides uncomfortable to try and create an outcome.

And I’ll just say this too, Middle East peace is like a butt of jokes for many years. We actually did get some peace agreements done, which is pretty incredible. But you’re basically saying, Jared, go work on probably one of the most impossible, complex, emotionally charged problem sets in the history of the world. And so my view was, it wasn’t like you could look at it on one of your homework sets.

Okay, this is the right answer, the wrong answer. You have a million different wrong answers and maybe one or two potential answers that could work out well. And so like I said, we inherited the hand we got and we just played the cards as hard as we could. And I do think by the time we left, we left it in a very, very strong place. And we had more time, again, I don’t want to sound like one of these guys who leaves government saying this, but I did have a lot of track, my track record of success in the Middle East I do think is second to none over the last many years.

And so I do firmly believe that we put the situation in a paradigm where it was much closer to being solved than it had ever been before.

Why Does Kushner not See Netanyahu as an Obstacle to Peace?

Tarek Masoud: I’m going to just do one last question on Bibi because I started this by saying you and your father-in-law disagree about Abbas. You also disagree about Bibi. And I guess what I’m trying to understand, because I read your book, I don’t know why you still have a soft spot for Bibi. Like this is a guy who, Trump says, I don’t think he ever wanted to make peace.

You tell a story where Netanyahu acts incredibly dishonorably, where when you’re rolling out the peace plan, he gets up and just starts thanking the United States for agreeing to Israeli annexation of these bits of the West Bank that Israel, in your plan, would only get after the deal is agreed to by the other side.

And you even say, when you first started talking to Netanyahu about a deal, he says, no, thanks.

And you even note, he says to you, look, I’ve survived as Prime Minister for 11 years by opposing a Palestinian state. So, this, to me, he’s a guy who just purely, in your book, seems pretty sneaky, kind of like an obstructionist, a rejectionist. And yet, you talk about him in the book, towards the end you say he could be a powerful catalyst for change. And I’m thinking to myself, yeah, it seems to me he was more an obstacle to the kind of change that you wanted and the U.S wanted, which was to see a solution to the Palestinian issue. So, what am I and your father-in-law getting wrong about this guy?

Jared Kushner: So first of all, I think that there definitely is brilliance to him, and I think he’s definitely committed himself to Israel for a very long time.

Some would argue maybe now too long, but I think he’s done a lot of good in his time. And my general view is, I was able to find ways to work things through with him. He didn’t always make my life easy, but that wasn’t his job.

My job wasn’t to make his life easy either. So again, I understood his complications, I understood his flaws, and I understood his brilliance, and I was able, and I just found it, and again, maybe I’m more malleable. I’m able to work with complicated people very well, that’s maybe one of the things throughout all my different careers I’ve been good at. But I found that I was able to get the best out of him in order to accomplish the things that I thought were in the best interests of America and the region.

Tarek Masoud: So, in other words, just bottom line on this, you are not one of the people who sees Benjamin Netanyahu as an obstacle to peace?

Jared Kushner: I think that anyone who is a leader in the region can be both part of the problem and part of the solution. And I think that the job of those involved is to try to pull the best out of everyone to create the best possible outcome possible.

Tarek Masoud: I definitely…

Jared Kushner: I know I’m being a little evasive with that, but I think it really can depend on the day, and I think it depends on how you work with him to get the best out of him.

Tarek Masoud: No, I love that.

Jared Kushner: It’s in there. It’s in there. That is what I’m saying.

Tarek Masoud: I love that. I love that. It’s clear from the book you did that with Netanyahu, but you gave up on Abbas really quickly.

Jared Kushner: I didn’t give up. I was just taking a posture of, we’re not going to chase you. But I think, for him, I set a very delicious table where if he would’ve come and engaged, I had a couple goodies in my pocket that I could have done, and I think I set the table for him to make a deal, have some big victories in negotiation, have $50 billion of investment, create a million new jobs, double the GDP, reduce the poverty rate, create a real country. You know what I mean? So, I think I set him up to be a hero.

Look, there’s one book I read about him, which actually I had a different assessment of him than the CIA. And I actually bought this book and gave it to the CIA after I read it, which was called The Last Palestinian, which was really incredible. And throughout his life, again, this is my assessment as just somebody who ended up in this job, was that throughout his life, he actually was for peace. He was for nonviolence. He hung around a lot of bad characters and was always on that side. But I do think that after they lost Gaza to Hamas in 2006, you basically had two non-states with two non-governments. And I think after that, he just went inward and his whole focus moved to survival and staying in power and keeping the kleptocracy running. I think after that, it was more about how do I set this up to just survive. And he became afraid of making peace and taking the risks necessary. That was kind of my assessment, which made him a little bit of a harder character to deal with.

Why was Recognizing Israel’s Annexation of Golan the “Right Thing to Do?”

Tarek Masoud: We could probably talk about him for much longer, but we shouldn’t. You saw the Vanity Fair story that talks about you as a potential future Secretary of State. I don’t know if people saw the New York Sun story from January that proposed your name for president of Harvard. But so what I want to do is I kind of want to, I want to understand how you think about international relations. And the Golan story gives us a nice entry point into that.

So, March, 2019, you encouraged President Trump to recognize Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights. And basically you say, acknowledging the reality that the Golan Heights belonged to Israel was the right thing to do. And I remember I read that thing and I thought, wow, Jared Kushner is talking about the right thing to do. I’m a realist in international relations. I would’ve guessed that you were as well. It’s like there’s no right or wrong. It’s like interests. So, what was the moral principle that was being satisfied by recognizing Israel’s annexation of the Golan?

Jared Kushner: Sure. So even with all these jobs, my number one job that I’m focused on right now is being dad to my kids. That’s something after four years of very intense time in government. That’s the most important job I have now.

Tarek Masoud: That’s your way of saying you don’t want to be Secretary of State?

Jared Kushner: That’s my job. That’s my way of saying I’m really liking the job I have right now. It’s really important.

So, what I would say is that the way that I kind of approach foreign policy, and again, this came from not really having any experience in foreign policy, was basically saying every problem set I got almost, I think my disadvantage was that I didn’t have any context, and my advantage was that I didn’t have any context. So, I would always try to take a first principles result-oriented approach with the goal of being, how do you maximize human potential? And in order to maximize human potential, you need to figure out how you can reduce conflict, most of the time. And I always looked at everything and I say through that lens, what are the interests of different parties?

One thing I was also very good at, I think because I didn’t come in lecturing people. There’s a story I tell in the book where I went to meet with Mohammed bin Zayed, who’s now the president of the United Arab Emirates and the ruler. And I spent the first two hours basically asking him different forms of a question, which is, “The US has so much power, again, we are a massive global superpower. If you were me, what would you do?”

And it took him about an hour to basically understand the question I was doing because he was so not programmed to actually meet with somebody from the US who wanted his opinion.

And after an amazing conversation, because he’s a very, very wise and brilliant person, he basically said to me, “Jared, I think you’re going to make peace here in the region.”

And I said to him, I said, “Well, why do you say that?” He says, “Well, the US usually sends one of three kinds of people to see us. The first are somebody who comes and they fall asleep in meetings.” He says, “The second type of person they send is somebody who comes and they read me notes or a message and has no authority or power to interact and have a dialogue.” He said, “The third person they send are people with real authority, but they only really send them to come and try to convince me to do things that are not in my interests.” He says, “You’re the first person from the US at a senior level that’s ever come here and actually asked questions and listened.”

And I said to him, “Well, that’s because I really don’t know how to do this, and this is a really hard problem.” And so I said, “I appreciate all of the wisdom you can give me.”

So, it’s kind of a long way of saying that every problem I kind of looked at fresh. I was able to build trust with people, build real personal relationships. I always answered the phone. People had issues. I always believed successful people answer their phone and so I was always available. I didn’t always tell them, yes.

And I wasn’t keeping a score saying, I’m going to do this for you, but you have to do this for me. My general view was, I’m going to do all the things you need and you’re going to do all the things I need, and hopefully at the end of this relationship, we both feel like we’re way ahead. And so I was able to build a lot of trust.

I was able to kind of see things from another side’s perspective. I worked very hard to understand both side’s interests and say, where can we find common interests? And then the areas where we disagreed, instead of condemning people publicly, you’ll notice I didn’t do a lot of public talking. I didn’t think it was that helpful. I’m not very big on being negative towards people or being critical.

And so what I basically did was we would find ways when we disagreed to disagree respectfully and quietly, and then find ways to move forward.

Tarek Masoud: So, sorry, recognizing Golan’s annexation was the right thing to do because…

Jared Kushner: Well, it’s just obvious. I mean, number one, Israel had had it now for how many years? I guess they got in the ’73 War.

Tarek Masoud: Yes.

Jared Kushner: I believe so.

Tarek Masoud: [inaudible] I don’t remember it.

Jared Kushner: They had it for a long time. The ’67 War.

Tarek Masoud: Yeah.

Jared Kushner: The ’67 War. So, they basically had it since the ’67 War. Clearly, strategically, it was a big military, important. They had it, they weren’t giving … And then they’re saying, okay, who does it belong to? Syria. Syria, at the time, barely existed.

So, it was a big thing where it said, A, they’re never giving it up. B, Syria doesn’t exist. Let’s just recognize it. It moves things forward. And my view is the more of these what I would call stupid conflicts that we allowed to exist, the more it would be there. What I would say too is the Middle East has a lot of natural negative inertia to it. It’s been created over so many years. Maybe it’s the mixture of so many customs and traditions.

But I would say in 2017, what was new to the situation was really two things. One was President Trump and myself as a proxy and then MBS. And so with those two dynamics, we were able to disrupt the inertia and then really change the paradigm of what was there.

Tarek Masoud: You have this other line in the book where you say, “Recognizing Israel’s annexation of the Golan was a powerful opportunity for America to stand for the truth.” But that felt like very moral language. For example, I don’t imagine you would say, oh, let’s also stand for the truth of the fact that the One China policy doesn’t make any sense, and there actually should be an independent country called Taiwan. You wouldn’t stand for that truth.

Jared Kushner: Well, I think that that was a truth that didn’t conflict with one of our strategic interests.

Tarek Masoud: Okay, fair enough. Okay, fair enough, fair enough.

Jared Kushner: But I’ll tell you where we did do that. We did that in the Western Sahara. We recognized the Western Sahara as being part of Morocco because, again, we thought that was in our interests and it was true. And so it was just like one of these, and again, that has not been undone, too.

One thing I’m proud of with a lot of the work I did in government, people talk about how it was a divided time. Abraham Accords have been bipartisan praised, and now the Biden administration has followed our policy.

After two years, they’ve reversed course; they’re embracing Saudi Arabia. All the things we are doing, they’re now trying to do, which is I think a great affirmation of the policy. And it’s good. The prison reform, we did; 87 votes in the Senate. You look at the USMCA trade deal, [inaudible]. So, my view is if you pursue the things in the right way and you build consensus, you actually can move forward big things. So, Western Sahara, we did the right thing and we were able to then work hard to convince everyone to come on board.

Kushner’s Relationship with MBS

Tarek Masoud: We’re coming to the time where I have to take questions from the students, otherwise I will not make it out of here alive. But I wanted to ask you, just one last issue I wanted to describe. You talk about yourself as trying to move big things forward. Another person trying to move big things forward, who is a friend of yours is Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, and I think you and I are in agreement that he’s probably one of the most consequential people in the world right now in terms of the magnitude of what he’s trying to do and in terms of how important it is for the world that he succeed.

But I think when I look at him and what he’s trying to do, there are some things that just kind of give me pause. And I’m asking you as a friend of his to help me understand why these things shouldn’t give me pause. So, I’m totally going to overlook the Jamal Khashoggi thing or the detention of the Lebanese Prime Minister or the Ritz-Carlton. Just looking at some of the developmental plans like The Line, which is this a hundred-mile-long linear city. And you are a real estate guy, does The Line make sense to you?
I look at this and I think this seems to me like a guy who’s got a lot of testosterone, and nobody who wants to tell him, no. What am I getting wrong?

Jared Kushner: Got it. So, he definitely has very high RPMs from the first time I met him. So, I’ll give a little bit of context. So, Mohammed bin Salman is now the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

When we were in the campaign in 2016, Trump was very tough on Saudi.
And then, I write in my book, if you want to go through and read, I was very, very rough with them when they came in trying to speak. And I said, look, we want nothing to do with you guys. You guys fund terrorism, you treat women terribly. You’re not ascribing to Western values. You got to pay for your own defense. You got to recognize Israel. We’re done. This is going to be a very rough, rough go. And they did not get along with Obama because Obama basically went to Persia and did the deal with Iran, which made all of our allies feel very alienated. So, they basically came back and said, no, no, no, we really, really value the U.S relationship. It’s been our strongest relationship forever. And we have this young Deputy Crown Prince who really wants to go forward and make a difference here, and he wants to change things.

And so then basically, we had a big debate internally, and he sent me a whole proposal through his guys, [inaudible] and Dr. Mosaad Al-Aiban. And they basically brought a proposal that basically said, we’re going to do all these modernizations. We’re going to get rid of the custodianship laws. We’re going to start allowing women to drive. And by the way, we’re not doing this for you. We’re doing this because we want to do it. We’re going to be eliminating the role of the religious police. At the time we had the Pulse nightclub shooting, we had the San Bernardino shooting. The biggest problem in 2016, a big issue in the campaign was really radicalization. ISIS had a caliphate the size of Ohio.

And the whole talking point was we needed to defeat the territorial caliphate of ISIS, and then we need to win the long-term battle against extremism. There was a real fear that these extremists were basically using online mechanisms to radicalize people all over the world. We needed to stop the flow of funds to terrorists. So, they came with a proposal saying, Saudi Arabia, the custodian of the two holy mosques is going to lean into this and help you create a whole center where we’re going to now single-handedly lead the fight with you, to fight online extremism and radicalization. And by the way, they never called it modernizing Islam. He would always say, I want to restore Islam. He says, these people who were the terrorists, the ISIS, they don’t represent Islam. They are basically doing awful things in the name of Islam, and they are giving us Muslims a bad name, and we are just as aligned with you.

Again, we don’t think Trump is against Muslims. We think he’s against Islamic extremists who pervert our religion. So, they came with this whole proposal; look, we’re going to do hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in the US. We’re going to start paying for a lot more of our defense.

And it was like a dream come true from everything I thought Trump would like. They bring the proposal. Again, me knowing absolutely nothing about Saudi Arabia, nothing about foreign policy. I bring it to the national security team and I say, well, this is a proposal we got from Saudi. Is this interesting? This is, Jared. One of these things would be revolutionary. I say, well, they’re saying they’re going to do all of it if we kind of lean into the relationship.

So, then we go into the situation room to kind of assess what do we do with this? And I’m sitting with Secretary of Defense Mattis, Tillerson, John Kelly, Homeland Security. And, and Tillerson’s saying, “I’ve dealt with the Saudis all my life. I ran ExxonMobil. I know the Saudis. They never keep their word and they never come through. Jared, it’s a nice thing, but you’re a young, naive guy and it’s not going to go anywhere.”

I said, “Look, they’re putting it all in writing.” I said, “Why should we predetermine them to a future where nothing happens? If they’re saying they want to make these changes, let’s give them a little bit of rope.” So, we take it to the president and he’s doing a call with King Salman, and before the call, we’re having this debate. They say, “You’re going to deal with King Salman. We deal with his brother Mohammed bin Nayef, who’s the intelligence chief, and he’s a great ally for the U.S.”

And I said, “Well, if he’s such a good ally to the U.S, why do we have all these terrorist concerns with Saudi that you guys keep complaining about?”

And I said, “Look, I just want you to know I have a proposal from another guy there who’s the deputy Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, and he’s saying he wants to do all these things to really change, really big things, that will really make a difference.”

The call gets on the line. President Trump takes the call, speaks to King Salman. It was a pretty rough call because Trump, as you know, it can be very blunt. He basically says, “We want to see changes and we want to see them fast.”

And what King Salman basically says to him is, “We’re ready to lean in. We want to really strengthen the relationship with America. We did not like how it went before and we’re ready to do it.”

And so President Trump says, “Who should my team deal with?” And he says, “Deal with my son, the Deputy Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman.”

So, then he says, “Let him deal with Jared.” And the reason why he chose me for is because he knew the other guys weren’t believers, and they’d probably sabotage.

So, I get back to my desk and I have a note from him. We worked basically for 90 days straight to set up this trip. He sent his top guys to Washington. I got every single thing in writing. I couldn’t get people in the White House to come to the meetings to plan on the trip because they basically said, “This is going to be a disaster. We are all going to be embarrassed, and we want Jared to take the blame.”

We’re taking off for the trip. And I’m thinking to myself, why do I always do this to myself? We could have just gone to Mexico and cut a ribbon. What do I have to do this for? So, we go there, and I actually would encourage you to read or watch President Trump’s speech from Riyadh because he basically said, you’ll excuse my French. He says, “Look, I’m not going there to kiss ass.” He says, “I’m going there to kind of lay down markers and say, this is what needs to change and this is what we need to do.” He went there with a very tough, realistic speech, and he basically said, “This is not your problem. This is not our problem. This is all of our problems. We want to get these terrorists out of our homes. Get them out of our mosques. Let’s get them out of this world.” And it was very, very rough. And the king of Saudi Arabia gets up there and says, “There is no glory in death”, which also was a big statement.

So, I’m giving a long lead up to say, this is where we are. Over that visit, I had dinner with the Crown Prince, then the Deputy Crown Prince. I remember he said something to me, which was amazing, which he said, “My father’s generation, they were kind of in the desert. They really didn’t have a lot. And they look at the city of Riyadh today with airports and military, and they got so much further than they ever dreamed they could.” Or it’s in military and they got so much further than they ever dreamed they could. He says, “My generation, we look at all of the potential that our country has that’s not being sought after, and we see it as a big wasted opportunity. We want go to much, much higher heights. We believe in Saudi. I always say, there’s a reason why Saudi is such a big territory. They were amazing warriors back in the day. So, it’s an incredible people that have been very repressed through bad leadership for a long time. So, again, people were very surprised, the first reform, the second reform.

And keep in mind you had the religious police. People thought if he tried this stuff, they would kill him. And he was able to move so quickly on so many reforms that he’s freed that next generation.

When we did our conference in Bahrain in 2019, one of the challenges we had was finding role models for young Middle Eastern kids, young Palestinian kids, say, who are the new tech entrepreneurs? Who’s the Mark Zuckerberg or the Elon Musk that these kids should look up to? Now, I was in Saudi Arabia probably five months ago and I had a meeting with 30 tech entrepreneurs and this guy’s building the X of Saudi, the Y of Saudi, they’re building all these great startups and he’s unleashed a whole new generation of that.

He once said to me as well, something which was amazing where he said, because I was saying to him, “You’ve got all these ambitious projects.” I said, “Are you sure it’s a good thing to be doing all this?” Again, we’re friends and we’re able to have honest discussions with each other. We’ve had some tough discussions; we’ve had some fun discussions. But he basically looked at me and he said, “Jared,” he said, “Look, the way I view this is we have a country with amazing potential. As a leader, most leaders will say, let me do two or three things, and then you set low expectations and you achieve it and you declare success.” And he says, “That’s not my approach.” He says, “My approach is I want to take on a hundred things, and if I fail at 50 things, instead of looking back in five years and saying I accomplished three things, I’ll say I accomplished 50 things.”

And so I think he’s going forward in that way. So, if you want to look at the significance of him, and I’ll say this, the Khashoggi thing was an absolutely terrible situation, but I think the American media got very fixated on it. And it’s funny, I had a journalist, somebody who’s an editor of a magazine calls me because she was moderating a panel with some Saudi ministers and said, “Can you give me some advice on what I should ask him about?” And I said, “Well, let’s go away from the conventional stuff. Why don’t you talk about what it’s like to run a KPI driven government?” I said, “That would be a very interesting conversation.” It was a business conference.

Tarek Masoud: Key performance indicator [KPI].

Jared Kushner: Yeah. So, I said, “Look, you should go there and see what’s happening. It is one of the most exciting places now in the world.” And she says, “Oh, I can’t go there. My colleagues will kill me.” And so I’m saying to myself, well, that’s not curiosity and journalism. So, one of the biggest misperceptions I believe right now in America is the American journalists are not paying attention to what’s happening there, and it’s one of the most exciting transformations in the world.

And if you think about why I am a believer that in Gaza or in the West Bank, there’s hope to transform those societies and take the people who right now, people say, oh, they’re all radicalized. How can we transform them? Look what’s happened in Saudi Arabia over five years.

So, if you think about him in the context of the 21st century and how we’ll look at it, I think that I put half of it in the context of the amount of extremism and radicalization that we are not having to deal with because of the way that he’s taken Saudi Arabia in a different direction.

It’s funny, in politics, again, I look at some of the things we’re talking about saying, oh, well we’re going in and we’re solving a problem. We’re going and solving the border crisis that we basically created, right? Here, he’s spending a lot of time and effort and risk to have avoided what I think are massive potentially unovercomeable problems.

The other side of it is the contributions, and so there we’re kind of in the middle phase. I think he’s already accomplished, to be honest with you, from when I met him the first time and he told me about a lot of these dreams, I think he’s accomplished way more than I think anyone could have expected. And I think the cool thing is he’s just getting warmed up. And so now you think about these projects, he’s a very out of the box thinker. I see that he’s getting better and better. The ministers around him, again, they all sit around. It’s like sitting with the leadership team of a startup. They’re getting better and better. They’re competitive with each other, but in a friendly way. And I think that there’s a real ambition and an appetite for risk there that you don’t see in a lot of countries, and they have the resources and you think about the location. They have access to, in the Gulf right now, one of the reasons I’m so bullish there is you have access to the European market and to the US market, but then you have access to the Asian market where there’s massive, massive growth.

So, you look at the circumference around them, you have like 4 billion people and you have established markets, emerging markets, they have net surpluses because of their oil trade. They’re making massive investments in renewables. They’re being a true leader in a lot of fronts, and I think that’s very exciting.

So, again, I was very… Without him, I don’t think we would’ve been able to turn the tide in the region. I’m still very optimistic. I think now, it’s funny, they’re talking about with Israel; it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when and how and for what. Right? And so those negotiations are ongoing. I think they could conclude a week from now, they could conclude a year from now. But they’re going to happen, and that’s all because of the effort that he’s bringing. And I think that you’re going to see a different Middle East, a different world because of the work he’s done. So, I think it’s very exciting.

Tarek Masoud: You’re definitely clearly bullish on MBS and on Saudi. Are you so bullish on them that you’d invest there?

Jared Kushner: Yeah.

Tarek Masoud: Okay.

Jared Kushner: Yeah. Look, one of the challenges of investing there is that they’re doing so much investment internally. I’ve looked at several things.

We made one great investment in the UAE in an online classified business, which is basically correlated to the growth in real estate. But UAE in this last conflict really said, we want to take the role of Switzerland. And so, they basically said, we’re not getting involved, we’ve been in the middle of too many things. And so, they’ve had an explosion in their market and that’s been a massively successful investment for us. That business is going into Saudi as well. And we have another couple of businesses we’re looking in Saudi and I definitely would invest in the right way. Again, you have to get comfortable; it’s like every market has its insiders and its local customs; so we’ve gone slowly, but I am very bullish there.

Tarek Masoud: All right, so when we started here, I told you, you should never count on a middle-aged Egyptian man to keep time, particularly when you’re talking to somebody as interesting as Jared Kushner. So, can we take maybe two questions?

Jared Kushner: Yeah, of course.

Tarek Masoud: Is that cool?

Jared Kushner: Of course.

Tarek Masoud: So, I want to call on students in my class, IJ655, and the first person I have is Zantana Efrem, who’s right over here? Yep.

Zantana Efrem: Hi Jared. Thank you for being here with us today. So, the question I had submitted to Professor Masoud is this. As you’re undoubtedly aware, there have been numerous significant discussions across the country surrounding the campus culture in higher education, particularly in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These conversations often touch upon anti-Palestinian sentiments, Islamophobia and antisemitism. I assume your presence here today suggests that you recognize the necessity of what the Harvard Kennedy School calls candid conversations, particularly within institutions of higher education. In light of this, could you share your perspective on areas where you believe Harvard University, its donors, or students, may have faltered or faced missteps in addressing the complexities of the conflict on our campus?

Jared Kushner: Sure. So, I’ll be honest. When I got reached out from Tarek, it was at a time where a lot of my friends were getting very, very negative on Harvard. And I’ve always been somebody, I’m not big into condemnation, I’m big in engagement. Every now and then you got to do condemnation. But they say you don’t make peace with your friends, you have to go out there and go into places that are uncomfortable. I will say that… and by the way, I’ll say one of the pretexts, which is I got here about an hour before this and I was walking around campus and you guys are all so lucky to be here. This place is absolutely amazing. It is so special. It survived for a long time and it’s always been a beacon of excellence, and like all great institutions perhaps maybe it lost it’s way a little bit. I’m sure that’s happened in the past. I have not studied the history of Harvard as much as I have some of these other topics, but…

Tarek Masoud: It’s much harder, the history of Harvard.

Jared Kushner: But what I would say is this, is that I’m more interested in tomorrow and the future. I think that what we’ve been through has been a very interesting time for the country. I think it’s been an interesting time in the world. I think there’s been a lot of emotions. I think I would just encourage people, no matter what your persuasion is, to figure out how to engage. I saw this when I was in New York, before I went into the political world, I only had one friend who was a Republican. I remember sitting here at Harvard and the things that we would say about George Bush and how certain and how arrogant we were about his policies. And by the way, I’m not a fan of him as a president. I don’t think he was a good president. But it was such a self-righteousness about the thought that now I look back on reflection and I see.

I saw the same thing in New York where the echo chamber I was in, which I thought was a very worldly echo chamber, I was with the heads of the banks, the heads of the hedge funds, the heads of the fashion companies, the heads of the technology companies. We’d be at our house, we’d have artists over, I’d have journalists. I thought I was just with this very eclectic, worldly diverse group. It turned out I was just in a massive echo chamber. And what I would say for all of you is, I would say try to pursue independent thought. When people are screaming, I’m not sure that that’s necessarily the most productive way. I would try to do your research. I would try to meet with people on both sides and I would try to engage.

This place has a very special history; it has a lot of that’s special to it. And I think that if each of you say, how can we try to contribute to make this a comfortable place for everyone, let’s learn, let’s continue to grow and evolve, I think that it’s possible that this place can hopefully come back to where it has the potential to be.

Tarek Masoud: Great. Okay. We’ll take one more. I have Barak Sella over here.

Barak Sella: Hi, my name is Barak Sella. I’m a student in Tarek’s class. So, let’s pretend that in a year from now you are a Secretary of State. And looking at sort of the situation of foreign policy in the US, a lot of dissatisfaction on the right and the left and post-October 7th, knowing that we can’t go back, you’re always talking about going forward. How should America’s foreign policy in the Middle East change regarding the challenges that are now facing the Middle East, Israel, the Arab world after October 7th? What has changed? How has it changed fundamentally, how the United States needs to approach this foreign policy?

Jared Kushner: So first of all, I’m just going to say all this is as a hypothetical, which is always dangerous to do. But what I would say is that if you go back for, I think… look, when President Clinton left office, America was an [inaudible] superpower in the world, and it was mostly peaceful. You think about through both the Bush and Obama administrations, I think the foreign policy of both administrations did not achieve great results and made the world a lot less safe, allowed China to rise, got us into war in Iraq, war in Afghanistan, led to a big instability in the region, which again, when President Trump got in 2017, we had to deal with literally a decade and a half of massive mismanagement. Again, I think we spent the whole time trying to fix a lot of problems that we inherited, and I think at the end we left it with a lot of good momentum. How do you go back to where we had it and then build upon it in that regard?

I think there’s a couple things, and I wish everything was black and white, but I found in foreign policy, like in most things in life, there’s always a thousand shades of gray and you need to figure out how everything connects to everything else. So, number one is that you need to impose a penalty on Iran and you need them to feel like there is a risk to keep the trouble they’re making, right?

So, what President Trump used to say about Iran is that they’ve never won a war, but they’ve never lost a negotiation. So, they’re always going around feeling, trying. In 2016, Iran, after the JCPOA, when Obama left office, was selling about 2.7 million barrels a day of oil. By the end of the Trump administration, they were selling 100,000 barrels of oil a day on the illicit market. So, basically we totally dissected their economy; they were out of foreign currency reserves and they were dead broke. I mean, they’re pretty good with ballistic missiles, but they’re air force is from the 1970s. So, they had no capabilities. Wars are expensive; they had no capabilities to withstand war, and we had the world pretty united in enforcing the sanctions against them. And that was a very tough battle with Europe and with China and with Russia and a lot of others; but we were able to create enough issues everywhere else. We were able to really kind of put them in a box and make them fear us.

So, I would say number one is you have to focus on Iran and they have to feel, first of all, start cramping down on their resources.

And number two, you need to create some kind of fear that this behavior is not going to be treated lightly. I also think there’s an issue where you need to figure out how to reset the relationship with China, and I think you need to figure out an end to the Russia/ Ukraine war. I don’t think there’s much there that’s happening. I think that Russia wants to see us now more distracted, so I do think that they’re incentivized to be against whatever position the US is in the Middle East. So, let’s say the US came out tomorrow and said, we’re against Israel, Russia would then go back Israel. I think that there’s a dynamic there where they want to see us distracted so that we focus less on them. And so I think that that conflict strategically is not good for us. I think you need a resolution there.

So, I think number one is contain Iran.

Number two is we took a little bit of a different approach than the administrations before us and after us with Hamas.

So, if you go back with Hamas, they had the same business plan from basically 2006 up until 2017. They would fire rockets into Israel. Israel would overreact. The world would then reflexively condemn Israel because every one of their military targets is underneath a school or a residential area. Israel sends out leaflets saying, “Please, civilians move, we’re about to bomb,” which really eliminates the element of surprise. But they basically would fire rockets into Israel. Israel would overreact. The world would condemn Israel. Then there’d be a conference; they’d raise money, Hamas would get cash. They’d be good for a couple of years. They’d run out of money. They’d say, what should we do? Oh, I’ve got an idea. Let’s fire rockets into Israel. Israel will overreact. The world would condemn Israel. They’ll hold the conference, we’ll get some more money, we’ll be good for a couple of years. When Hamas did that the first time with us, what the State department was saying is we urge both sides to show restraint.

We basically did something different. We said, Israel has the right to defend itself. We support that. Israel went in, bombed the crowd. We said, no more money. We’re not putting more money in until they stop bombing. We’re not putting good money after bad, if you guys actually show us a paradigm.

The thing with Gaza that was different from the West Bank is there was no religious sites. So, there’s no border disputes and there’s no religious sites. So, it was kind of like a very simple concept of like, you guys stop being terrorists and we’ll figure out how to rebuild the place. And so, the notion there was, show them that there’s going to be a real… they’re not going to be rewarded for their bad actions. Now, giving them a Palestinian state is basically a reinforcement of we are going to reward you for bad actions, right?

Tarek Masoud: We’re not giving Hamas a Palestinian state. You’re giving Palestinians a Palestinian state.

Jared Kushner: What do you think that will do for the popularity of Hamas and for people? If you’re a young person and you have two people trying to influence you, and you have Muhammad Abbas saying, my way of being peaceful has what brought us a state. By the way, they all think he’s corrupt. They don’t like when you criticize their government. But he says, my way of being peaceful, or you have Hamas saying, the only way we ever got anything was by going in and killing and raping and murdering, and we showed them that we can be tough and they feared us and the world rewarded us for it.

So, my sense is it’s an unbelievably awful precedent to do. You have to show terrorists that they will not be tolerated and that we’ll take strong action.

So, number one, you’ve got to put some cramps on Iran. Number two, you have to be very tough at going after the terrorists.

Number three, you have to work with everyone. There was a lot of trust eroded in the region since we left. UAE was shot from the Houthis. By the way… Anyway, it doesn’t matter. But bottom line is then I would focus on how do you get the deal with Saudi done. And those talks continued to evolve.

And I did an interview with Lex Friedman basically two days after. And he asked me, “Is the Saudi deal dead with Israel?” I said, “No, no, no. The industrial logic is still strong there. It’s just now Israel’s going to have to do what they’re going to do, and then when it’s done, it’s in the interest of all sides.”

So, Israel still wants that deal, the Biden administration still wants that deal and Saudi still wants that deal. So that deal is still very much alive. And it’s interesting too, the dynamics. The Biden guys initially said they’re going to make Saudi a pariah, and now they’re basically running over there begging them for help to try to figure out how to get this resolved.

So, the long answer is, I think that’s really how you have to do it. You have to stand with Israel. I think it’s very, very important. We deterred a lot of threats because we stood with Israel.

I think the north right now is combustible. I am nervous. I think the US did the right move sending the carriers over initially. But think about it like a woods with a lot of dry leaves. It just takes a little spark and that thing can conflate. There, it’s a pretty tough situation. You need a long-term plan to try to diffuse that situation, but you have to figure out how to hope.

But it’s about being strong, being strong with Israel, containing Iran, showing the terrorists they’re not going to be rewarded for their actions, and working closely with your partners in Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf to try to figure out how to continue the economic project that we started.

Isn’t the Most Important Arab-Israeli Peace Deal the one with the Palestinians?

Tarek Masoud: But Jared, you’ve got to agree with me and then we’ll have to end, you’ve got to agree with me that ultimately, at the end of the day, the real deal with Arabs that matters for Israel is with Palestinians.

Jared Kushner: So, I’ll just say this, as I think that for Israel, and actually for the Jewish people, having a proper resolution to that is very important, right? Because I do think that that’s been an excuse for a lot of global antisemitism to hide behind this conflict. And I think that that’s been… It’s definitely within the interest of Israel and the Jewish people to find a resolution to the issue. But, and this is the most important, but, it has to be a solution that’s sustainable.

And when you ask me what’s my biggest fear? My biggest fear is that you have a lot of people who are chasing a deal for the sake of a deal and not looking to make a deal that will really leave this in a position where it makes future conflict less likely.

And the way you do that is by creating a paradigm where you don’t reward bad behavior. You need the right institutions to allow the Palestinian people to live a better life. You said something to me when we were talking, I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, or I could just say, I heard this from a friend.

And I actually thought it was really smart, it had me thinking, and it’s absolutely true, that Oslo has been a total failure. And again, we’ve all worked in the constructs of that. But if you think about it, for all these years in the Middle East, again, before you had all these countries and all these arbitrary lines that we spoke about with Sykes-Picot, you basically had a situation where you had the tribal system, and there’s still form of governance in the different cities and towns in the tribal system. Oslo, I went before about how Arafat was in Jordan, he tried to assassinate the king. They had black Saturday…

Tarek Masoud: Black September.

Jared Kushner: Black September. They got these guys out. They went up to Lebanon, they caused some problems in Lebanon, they kicked them out of Lebanon. They went to your favorite place, Tunisia, they’re in Tunisia, sitting in villas on the beach, basically broke and there. And then the US and Israel had this great idea of say, we’re going to take this former terrorist who’s sitting in a villa in Tunisia and we’re going to put him in charge of the Palestinians. And then all of a sudden, you’ve got this tribal system that’s been working there for a long time. They’re like, why the hell is this guy in charge of us?

And then for 30 years, we’ve had nothing but failure; the people’s lives have not gotten better and that hasn’t worked. So again, my fear is that I’m seeing a lot of conventional thinking with the same people who have failed. Again, you go to Abas, he’s like a broken record. He said the same thing, and his record of non-achieving is not good.

And my fear is really for the people because I think that they’ve been pawns in this situation. And the one thing I’ll say strongly, people who are pro… I always say this. There’s four categories in this conflict. You have pro-Israel, that’s acceptable. You have indifferent, that’s acceptable. You have pro-Palestinian, that’s acceptable. You have pro-Hamas, that is not acceptable.

You think about if you want to be pro-Palestinian. The best thing you can do is, say the people who have been holding these people back is their leadership. When we held a conference in Bahrain… Sorry, I’ll do this part very quickly, then we’ll wrap.

We held a conference in Bahrain. Again, go to my Peace to Prosperity, Google it. You’ll go through, I have a full business plan that I built. It’s 100, and I think, 83-page document that goes through all the different changes you need and every investment that we would make in order to build a functioning society.

We had every businessman from around the world, Steve Schwartzman came, [inaudible] AT&T; had all the leading Arab businessmen. And they all said, we want to do things to make the lives of the Palestinian people better, and we will invest there.

But the reason we’re not going to invest there, again, you can’t have jobs in prosperity without investment. They still teach capitalism at Harvard, I think.

Tarek Masoud: Secretly.

Jared Kushner: Secretly, right? And capitalism is a very powerful force towards improving people’s lives. And that’s been proven time and time again. And so, what they all said is, the reason we’re not investing has nothing to do with Israel, it has to do with there’s no rule of law. We don’t want to go build a factory or a power plant, then have it blown up by terrorism. There’s no property rights. How are we going to go do something, then it’s expropriated by these thugs.

And so what I would say is that without the proper Palestinian leadership, and again, you can’t just say, oh, we’re going to do a reinvigorated Palestinian authority. It’s not going to work. It’s not going to work. You need a new idea that’s actually going to work. Because if you’re Israel, yes, I think, and a lot of Israelis at their core, they want the Palestinians to live a better life. They want a Palestinians… The state right now, the state means a lot of things.

So, it’s a very controversial word, even though it shouldn’t be, because it means different things to different people. But the fundamental underlying part of it that’s essential is, is there a governing structure in this area for the Palestinian people that will not threaten Israel security wise, and that will give the Palestinian people the opportunity to live a better life. Without those two things, nothing is acceptable. You can call it whatever the hell you want.

How can Palestinians Build their Institutions while under Bombardment?

Tarek Masoud: Yeah. So, I think this is a really important note to end on though, because I think anybody who leaves here would think, well, the tune that Jared Kushner really wants us to hum is that the number one most important thing that we’ve got to do is invest in the building of Palestinian institutions. And I don’t know how you do that while a big chunk of Palestine is under this massive bombing campaign.

Jared Kushner: So, what I would say this… that’s one of the cool things…

Tarek Masoud: I’ll give you the last word.

Jared Kushner: Okay, cool. Yeah. So, one of the things I learned also in government is that especially in the Middle East, the number one rule you should follow when doing it is that if they’re not screaming at you, you’re not on the right path because all of…

Tarek Masoud: That must mean I’m always on the right path.

Jared Kushner: Exactly. Yeah. So, the conventional thinking in that region has just the track record of everyone who’s going to be talking is just wrong. So, think about it, again; we go back to, how do I look at it, first principles, results-oriented, results outcome, and how do you advance human prosperity? How do you advance human potential? How do you give people the chance to live safe, have better life? If it doesn’t fit in those criteria and you put patchwork on it, then you’re doing what politicians do, which again, Trump coming from the business world, myself coming from the business world, a problem’s either solved or it’s not.

You can’t put a band-aid on something and call it solved because it’s going to go back. I think the psychology right now of Israel is very much, we can never let this happen again. And so, I think what they’re doing is they’re hoping that a solution will develop. And again, I think this is the burden now that the Biden administration carries.

I think the Arab countries want to see this happen as well. But I do think there’s a very big desire to come up with a solution that will make everyone more prosperous and more safe in the long-term. And that’s what it’s about, right?

Again, I have friends now who are Muslims, who are Christians, who are Jews. When I would go sit with people, they knew I was Jewish; I was an envoy from America. We’re all the same people. We have the same blood in our veins. And when we recognize that, we all kind of want to make things better, whether you’re a Democrat, you’re a Republican, Israeli, Palestinian; and if you kind of come with that framing, then there’s a lot of progress that you can make. But you can’t do stupid things short term that you’ll pay the price for long term.

Conclusion

Tarek Masoud: Okay. This is a good note to end on. First of all, I want to thank you, Jared, for coming to Harvard. I know it’s your old stomping grounds, but one could be forgiven for thinking it’s like going to enemy territory. Hopefully you feel that this was a welcoming environment, and we can get you to come back so we can argue some more with a bunch of things that you said that I still want to argue with, but we don’t have time for. And I want to thank all of you for coming and just being an exemplary Harvard audience. And so please join me in thanking Jared Kushner. Jared Kushner: Thank you. Thank you very much.


Democracy and Liberty

Orestes Augustus Brownson (1803–1876), the famed American thinker, understood that political democracy is a failed project from the outset, becaause it could establish a moral framework, which is necessaary for liberty. In other words, how can amoral man be free? And by extention, how can a Godless man be free?

Our Democratic brethren are upon the whole a fine set of fellows, and rarely fail to take whatever turns up with great good humor; otherwise we should expect to lose our ears, if not our head, for the many severe things we intend in the course of our essay to say to them and about them. We shall try them severely; for we intend to run athwart many of their fondly cherished prejudices, and to controvert not a few of their favorite axioms; but we trust they will be able to survive the trial, and to come forth as pure and as bright as they have from that which the Whigs gave them in 1840.

Mentioning this 1840, we must say that it marks an epoch in our political and social doctrines. The famous election [259] of that year wrought a much greater revolution in us than in the government; and we confess, here on the threshold, that since then we have pretty much ceased to speak of, or to confide in, the “intelligence of the people.”The people, the sovereign people, the sovereigns, as our friend Governor Hubbard calls them, during that campaign presented but a sorry sight. Truth had no beauty, sound argument no weight, patriotism no influence.They who had devoted their lives to the cause of their country, of truth,justice, liberty, humanity, were looked upon as enemies of the people,and were unable to make themselves heard amid the maddened and maddening hurrahs of the drunken mob that went for “Tippecanoe, and Tyler too.” It was a sorry sight, to see the poor fellows rolling huge balls, and dragging log cabins at the bidding of the demagogues, who were surprised to fin dhow easily the enthusiasm of the people could be excited by hard cider and doggerel rhymes. And we confess that we could hardly forbear exclaiming,in vexation and contempt, “Well, after all, nature will out; the poor devils,if we but let them alone, will make cattle of themselves, and why should we waste our time and substance in trying to hinder them from making themselves cattle?”

An instructive year, that 1840, to all who have sense enough to read it aright. What happened then may happen again, if not in the same form, in some other form equally foolish, and equally pernicious;and, therefore, if we wish to secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of freedom and good government, we must secure stronger guaranties than popular suffrage and popular virtue and intelligence. We for one frankly confess,–and we care not who knows it,–that what we saw during the presidential election of 1840, shook, nay, gave to the winds, all our remaining confidence in the popular democratic doctrines–not measures–of the day; and we confess, furthermore, that we have seen nothing in the conduct of either party since, that has tended to restore it. During the extra session of congress in the summer of 1841, the Democratic delegations in both houses behaved nobly, and acquitted themselves like men; they won the victory for their country, as well as lasting honor and gratitude for themselves from the wise and good everywhere; but our friends seem to have been more successful in gaining the victory than in securing its fruits. The rapid and overwhelming successes which have followed in the state elections,seem to have intoxicated the whole [260] Democratic party, and unless Godsends us some sudden and severe rebuke, there is great danger that we shall go into power again in 1845, without having been in the least instructed by defeat, or purified by adversity. Adversity is easy to bear; it is prosperity that tries the man. But enough of this.

From the fact that popular suffrage, and popular virtue and intelligence, have proved, and are likely to prove, insufficient to secure the blessings of freedom and good government, it must not be inferred that popular suffrage is an evil, and should therefore be abandoned; much less that popular forms of government have proved a failure, and that we should therefore go back to aristocracy or to monarchy. We draw for ourselves no such inference. We have lost no confidence in nor love for popular institutions. The struggle for democratic forms of government has, moreover, been too long and too severe, has enlisted too many of the wise and the good, and been consecrated by too many prayers, sufferings, and sacrifices, to permit us, even if our confidence of ultimate success were altogether less than it really is, to think even for one moment of ceasing to continue it. Humanity never does, and never should, retrace her steps. Her course is onward through the ages. In this career, we have left aristocracy and monarchy behind us; and there let them remain, now and for ever. We may encounter both hunger and thirst in the wilderness; let us trust that the God of our fathers will rain manna upon us, and make water gush from the rock,if need be, rather than like the foolish Israelites sigh to return to the”flesh pots of Egypt,” for we can return to them only by returning to the slavery from which we have just escaped. No: our faces are forward; the promised land is before us; and let the command ran along our ranks, Forward,march!

We assure our democratic brethren, then, in the Old World as well as in the New, that if we have words of rebuke for them, we have no words of consolation or of hope for their enemies. Thank God, we are neither traitors nor deserters; we stand by our colors, and will live or die, fighting for the good old cause, the CAUSE OF THE PEOPLE. But if our general made an unsuccessful attack yesterday, and was repulsed with heavy loss, and all in consequence of not choosing the best position, or of not taking the necessary precautions for covering his troops from the enemy’s batteries, we hope we may in the council held to-day, without any dereliction[261] from duty, advise that the attack be renewed under an officer better skilled to conduct it, or at least that it be renewed from a more advantageous position. We see in the fact that democracy has hitherto failed, no reason for deserting its standard, but of seeking to recruit its forces; or, without figure, we see in our ill success hitherto, simply the necessity of obtaining new and stronger guaranties than popular suffrage can offer, even though coupled with popular intelligence. We would not, we cannot dispense with popular suffrage and intelligence, and we pray our readers to remember this; but they are not alone sufficient, and we must have something else in addition to them, or we shall fail to secure those results from the practical working of the government, which every true-hearted democrats laboring with all his might to secure.

We have not erred in laboring to extend popular suffrage,–though thus far its extension has operated almost exclusively in favor of the business classes, or rather of the money power,–but in relying on it as alone sufficient. There is not a tithe of that virtue in the ballot-box which we, in our Fourth-of-July orations and caucus speeches, are in the habit of ascribing to it. The virtue we have been accustomed to ascribe to it, we have claimed for it on the ground that the people always know what is right and will always act up to their knowledge. That is to say,suffrage rests for its basis, as a guaranty of freedom and good government,on the assumed intelligence and virtue of the people. Its grand maxim is, “The people can do no wrong.” Now, this may be very beautiful in theory,but when we come to practice, this virtue and intelligence of the people is all a humbug. We beg pardon of the sovereign people for the treasonable speech; but it is true, true as Holy Writ, and there is neither wisdom nor virtue in pretending to the contrary. Perhaps, however, our remark is not quite true, in the sense in which it will be taken, without word or two by way of explanation.

To the explanation, then. We are in this country, we democrat sand all, most incorrigible aristocrats. We are always using the word people in its European sense, as designating the unprivileged many, in distinction from the privileged few. But this sense of the word is with us really inadmissible. We, we the literary, the refined, the wealthy, the fashionable,we are people as well as our poorer and more coarsely mannered and clad neighbors. We are all [262] people in this country, the merchant,the banker, the broker, the manufacturer, the lawyer, the doctor, the office-holder,the office-seeker, the scholar, and the gentleman, no less than the farmer,the mechanic, and the factory operative. We do not well to forget this.For ourselves, we always remember it, and therefore when we speak slightingly of the intelligence and virtue of the people, it is of the whole people,not of any particular class; in a sense which includes necessarily us who speak as well as those to whom we speak. When, then, we call what is usually said about the virtue and intelligence of the people all a humbug, we do not use the word in its European sense, and mean to speak disparagingly of the intelligence of plebeians as distinguished from patricians, of the “base-born” as distinguished from the “well-born;” for the distinctions here implied do not exist in this country, and should not be recognized even in our speech. When it comes to classes, we confess that we rely as much on the virtue and intelligence of proletaries as on the virtue and intelligence of capitalists, and would trust our mechanics as quick pandas far as we would our merchants and manufacturers.

There is, if we did but know it, arrant aristocracy in this talk which we hear, and quite too frequently in our own ranks, about the virtue and intelligence of the people. Who are we who praise, in this way, the people? Are we ourselves people? And when we so praise them, dowel feel ourselves below them, and looking up to them with reverence? Or do we feel that we are above them, and with great self-complacency, condescending to pat them on the shoulder, and say, after all, my fine fellows, you are by no means such fools as your betters sometimes think.” If we were in England, where there is a recognized hereditary aristocracy, and where the word people is used to designate all who do not belong to the nobility or privileged class, we could understand and even accept what is said about the virtue, intelligence, and capacity of the people; for there it would be appropriate and true. There it would simply mean that the unprivileged classes–the commons–are as able to manage the affairs of the government, and as worthy of confidence, as are the nobility, they who are born legislators; which we hold to be a great and glorious truth,worthy and needing to be preached, even to martyrdom, in every country in which the law recognizes a privileged class. But here it has no meaning,or one altogether inappropriate, [263] false and pernicious. To praise the people here for their virtue and intelligence is either to show that we feel ourselves above them, and praise them solely because we wish tousle them; or it is simply praising ourselves, boasting of our own virtue, intelligence, and capacity. The people should beware of the honeyed voices perpetually sounding their praise. He who in a monarchy will flatter the monarch, or in an aristocracy will fawn round the great, will in a democracy flatter the people; and he who will flatter the people in a democracy,would in an aristocracy fawn round the great, and in a monarchy, flatter the monarch. The demagogue is the courtier adapting himself to circumstances.And yet, flattery is so sweet, that he who can scream loudest in praise of the sovereign people, and whose conscience does not stick even at the blasphemy of Vox populi est vox Dei, will be pretty sure of receiving the largest share of their confidence and favor–another proof of their virtue, intelligence, and capacity!

One thing, by the way, we must own,–the people will bear with more equanimity to be told of their faults than will other sovereigns, or we ourselves should be drawn and quartered for our reiterated treason. But, if they would only lay our treason to heart, and profit by it, we would willingly consent to be drawn and quartered. But, alas! we may speak,and our good-natured sovereign will merely smile, call for his coffee and pantoufles, sip the beverage, throw himself back in his easy-chair, and doze. It is a virtue to commend him, and whoso does not, he disregards. Whoever among us expresses any want of confidence in the people, notwithstanding their apparent forbearance, is supposed to be their enemy, and is sure to be read out of the Democratic party; or to be laid up on the shelf, till some difficulty occurs in which his strong sense and stern integrity become indispensable. But after all, what is the ground of this confidence in the people? A strong party is springing up among us, which builds entirely upon this confidence, and says that if the people were only left to themselves they would always do right; and that all the mischief arises from our attempting to govern the people, and to prevent them from having their own way. Hence,say they, let us have as little government as possible, or rather let us have no government. “All we want government for,” said Dr. Channing one day to the writer, “is simply to undo what government has done.” If the people are worthy of all the [264] confidence demanded, why not yield it? Why not rely on the people? Why seek to bind them by constitutions, and to control them by laws, which in the last resort the military may be called in to enforce? If the people always know the right, and always act up to their intelligence, government is a great absurdity. But we do not find our friends generally confiding in the people to this extent, though the doctrine they preach goes thus far. As much as they confide in the people,they do not feel willing to leave them to vote in their own way. We have our caucuses, and various and complicated machinery, without which we feel very sure that the people would not vote at all, or if voting, not on our side. In a majority of cases, we are so afraid that the people will not vote, or not vote aright, that we, through committees, caucuses, conventions, nominations, party usages, &c., so do up all the work, that the voting becomes a mere form, almost a farce–yet we preach confidence in the people!

But once more. What is the ground of this confidence in the virtue, intelligence, and capacity of the people? Do we really mean to say that the people acting individually or collectively never do, and never can do any wrong? Whence, then, comes all this wrong of which everybody is complaining? The people are virtuous,–whence, then, the vice, the crime, the immorality, the irreligion which threaten to deluge the land? What need of swords, pistols, bowie knives, jails, penitentiaries, pains, penalties, laws, judges, and executioners? What need of schools, churches, teachers, preachers, prophets, and rulers? Nobody is so mad as really to pretend that nothing among us is wrong. Let alone private life, go merely into public life, enter the halls of justice and legislation–is all right here? No; everybody complains; everybody finds somewhat to condemn; some one thing, some another. And yet who has done this of which everybody is complaining? The people. What hear we from every quarter, but denunciations of this or that measure of public policy; of the profligacy of the government,or of its administration? And after all who is in fault? Whose is the government? The people’s. The people are sovereign, and of course the government and its administration, the laws and their execution, are just what the people will they should be. Is it not strange, if the people always perceive the right, and perceiving, always do it, that nevertheless where they are supreme,and what ever is done, is done by them, there yet should be so much wrong done? [265]

But touching the intelligence of our American people, we would ask with still more emphasis, Where have they shown it? Was it in the presidential campaign of 1840? Have they shown it in the several states in contracting abroad some two hundred millions of dollars or more of state and corporation debts? Have they shown it in introducing, extending and sustaining almost from their infancy the ruinous system of paper money? Do they show it by advocating the falsely-so-called American system–the”protective policy,” thereby crippling commerce, and enslaving the operative,for the very questionable benefit of a few manufacturing capitalists? Do they show it in their insane support of the immense system of corporations which spread over the country like a vast network, and which, flooding the market with stock, gives to a few individuals who have contrived to maintain their credit, the means of controlling and laying under contribution the whole industrial activity of the country? Have they shown it, in their very general condemnation of the only measure which would separate the revenues of the government from the general business operations of individuals,and secure to the government that financial independence, without which it ceases to be government, and becomes merely an instrument in the hands of one portion of the community for plundering the other? We demand of the statesmen who publicly boast, that during their whole continuance in office, “they have made it their duty to ascertain and bow to the will of the people;” –we demand of them, wherein they find this infallible popular intelligence on which they bid us rely? The people, we shall be told, rejected the elder Adams, elected and sustained Mr. Jefferson. Be it so, and yet, will any one tell us wherein the policy of Mr. Jefferson, so far as it bore on the practical relations of the people, and their every-day business interests, differed essentially from that of Mr. Adams? They rejected the old federal theory of government, it is true, and adopted the democratic; but it may be a very serious question, whether the latter theory, as the people understand it, is so much in advance of the former as we sometimes imagine. We shall be told that the people sustained General Jackson in his anti-bank policy; but it was General Jackson and not his policy,for they refused to sustain his successor, who pursued with singular consistency and firmness the same policy; and they would have sustained a new bank,had not Mr. Biddle’s bank failed at the very moment [266] it did, spreading alarm and distress through the land. Nine tenths of our business men even now fancy that we can add to the wealth of the country by increasing the paper circulation, and attribute the present embarrassments of the country to the want of confidence, when in fact these embarrassments have resulted almost solely from an excess of confidence; and can be relieved, not by any increase of confidence, but of that which gives to confidence a solid basis–solid capital.

In fact, no measure of public policy can be proposed, so absurd or so wicked, but it shall find popular support. What could be a more bare-faced violation of the constitution, more profligate, or more absurd as a measure of public policy, than the act of congress distributing the proceeds of the sales of the public lands among the several states? And yet where has it aroused any popular indignation? How many of even the Democratic states have had the virtue to fling back the bribe that was offered them? Has New York? Pensylvania? Ohio? Illinois? Missouri? Mississippi.? Georgia? Virginia? Maine? We recollect now, out of all the Democratic states, only three–South Carolina, Alabama, and New Hampshire–that have had the virtue to refuse to receive their portion of the spoils. A good Democrat introduced resolutions into the Massachusetts legislature declaring the act unconstitutional, and that the state ought not to accept its portion of the money; but he was induced by his own party, while agreeing with him in the unconstitutionality of the act, to amend his resolutions so as to leave out the clause which required the state to refuse to receive money unconstitutionally distributed. And what is remarkable, the amendment was proposed and urged by one of the most influential members of the party in the legislature, and who has been regarded for years as the leader of the ultra or radical portion of the Democratic party in the state. So little popular opposition has this measure encountered, a measure which would have been, no doubt, cheerfully acquiesced in by a large majority of the people, as the settled policy of the country, had it not been defeated by the presidential veto.

We might go even further, and venture to predict that the assumption of the state debts by the federal government, all unconstitutional and wicked as such assumption would be, will yet be adopted. There are so many stockholders, both at home and abroad, interested in its adoption,[267] that it must come at last, unless Providence interpose in our behalf.The people,–we mean the mass of the people, of the constituencies–are now, we fear, prepared for it, and nothing but the virtue of a few public men now delays it. If it be ultimately defeated, it will be through the influence of these few patriotic individuals; perhaps, nay, most likely,by the executive veto. The merchants to a considerable extent will sustain the measure, because it is one which will help to sustain or facilitate their credit abroad; the manufacturers will sustain it, because it will afford a pretext for the imposition of high duties on foreign imports;the operative and the farmer must sustain it, because the first depends on the manufacturer and trader for employment, and the last for the sale of his produce; against these the planters will hardly be able to sustain themselves, especially when several of the planting states are themselves to be directly relieved by assumption from the embarrassments which now cripple their energies. Where, then, is the power to defeat the measure?Yet we go on lauding the virtue and intelligence of the people!

Let us return for a moment to what is called “the protective policy.” The Lynn shoemaker clamors for protection, for high duties to diminish foreign imports and to secure to him the monopoly of the home market. If he can only exclude French shoes, he shall then have this monopoly.Very well. Where does he, and where must he find the principal market for his shoes? South and West. The value of that market to him, then, will depend on the ability of the South and West to buy shoes. Whence this ability?It depends, of course, on the ability of the South and West to sell their own productions. The principal market for western produce is at the South.The ability of the West to buy Lynn shoes depends, then, on its ability to sell its productions to the South. Whence, then, we must ask again,the ability of the South to buy western produce and Lynn shoes? In its ability to sell its rice, cotton, and tobacco to the foreigner. Whence the ability of the foreigner to buy the rice, cotton, and tobacco of the South? In his ability to sell his own productions or manufactures to us.If we will not buy of him, he cannot buy of us. Consequently, just in proportion as the Lynn shoemaker places an impediment in the way of the foreigner selling to us, does he place an impediment in the way of his selling his shoes to the South and West. In proportion as he secures, by [268] prohibitory duties, the monopoly of the home market, he diminishes its value, by diminishing the ability of the people to consume. Here, at best, he loses on the one hand all he gains on the other. Yet we boast of the intelligence of the Lynn shoemaker, and his intelligence, by the by, is above the average intelligence of the country.

But, absurd as the protective policy would be under any state of things,–implying that industry can be more energetic and efficient if bound than when left to the free use of its limbs,–it is doubly so when coupled, as we have coupled it, with the paper money system–a system which, though somewhat shaken, the mass of the people are still attached to, and the abolition of which scarcely a public man who values his reputation dare even propose. Very few of the people have ever thought of inquiring into the operations of the two systems when combined. In the first place,the paper money system, by depreciating our currency below that of foreign nations, operates as a direct premium, to the percentage of the depreciation,in favor of the foreign manufacturer; because the foreigner sells to us at the high prices produced by our depreciated currency, but buys of us,always, according to his own appreciated currency. This, for years in our trade with England, very nearly neutralized the tariff intended to protect our own manufactures.

In the next place, the tariff operating with the banking system tends to increase instead of diminishing the advantage of the foreign manufacturer. The first effect of a protective tariff, if it have any effect at all, is no doubt to diminish the imports, and to bring them, in fact, below the exports; which throws the balance of trade in our own favor.This cuts off all foreign demand for specie, and sends specie into the country, if needed. This, freeing the banks from all fear of a demand for specie to settle up foreign balances, and rendering it easy for them to obtain specie from abroad, if necessary, enables them to employ their capital in discounting freely to business men, even to speculators, and to throw out their paper to an almost unlimited extent. This expands, that is, depreciates the currency; prices rise; and the foreign manufacturer is able to come in over our own tariff, sell his goods at our enhanced prices, pay the duties, and pocket a profit. This, in turn, swells the revenue, which,if deposited in the banks, becomes the basis of additional discounts, which expand still more the currency, enhance prices still more, till the whole land [269] is flooded with foreign imports, which shall, as we have seen in our own case, notwithstanding our agricultural resources, extend even to corn, barley, oats, and potatoes; thus crushing not only our home manufactures,but the interests of every branch of industry but that of trade; and at length even that by destroying its very basis. This is no theory, it is fact; it is our own bitter experience as a people, from the terrible effects of which we are not yet recovered; and still we hold on to the policy,and the majority of the American people, even today, after all their experience,believe in the wisdom of continuing both systems!

But enough of this. We have heard so much said about the wisdom and intelligence of the people, that we perhaps are a little sore on the subject, and may therefore be disposed to exaggerate their folly and wickedness. But we have seen enough to satisfy us, that if we mean by democracy the form of government that rests for its wisdom and justice on the intelligence and virtue of the people alone, it is a great humbug.The facts we have brought forward prove it so; nay, more, that in destroying all guaranties, and in relying solely on the wisdom and virtue of the people,we are destroying the very condition of good government.

We may be told, as we doubtless shall be, by our democratic friends, that the errors we have pointed out, were not, and are not the errors of the people. Of whom then? “Of the people’s masters; of bankers,stock-jobbers, corporators, selfish politicians, &c.” And who are these? Are they not people? And how came they to be the people’s masters? And why do the people, if they are so wise and virtuous, submit to be controlled by them? We shall be told, and truly, that the principal measures or acts we have condemned, have been supported, not by the Democratic party, but by the Federalists and Whigs. But who pray are Federalists and Whigs? Are they not people just as much as are the Democrats? Is not what is done by them as much done by the people, as what is done by us? In speaking of the people we must include all parties, for we are as we have seen,in this country, all people, and the most numerous party is always the most popular. The American people are as responsible for what the Whigs do, as they are for what the Democrats do. So we cannot throw off from the people the responsibility of any of the systems of policy the government adopts, by saying it was adopted by this or that party. [270]

We of course shall not be understood in these remarks to intend any thing against the general wisdom and justice of the aims and measures of the Democratic party. As we understand its aims and measures, they are wise and patriotic, just and philanthropic. The Democratic party, at heart, is opposed to paper money, to a high protective tariff, to the growing system of corporate or associated wealth, and to a consolidated republic; and is in favor of the constitutional currency, free-trade, state rights, strict construction of the constitution, low taxes, an economical administration of the government, and the general melioration in the speediest manner possible of the moral, intellectual, and physical condition of the poorest and most numerous class. Taking this view of its aims and its measures,we must needs hold it to be the party of the country and of humanity. As such we are with it and of it, and no earthly power shall prevent us from laboring to advance it. But the doctrines which some of its members put forth on the foundation and authority of government, and which threaten to become popular in the party, nay, its leading doctrines, we own we do not embrace and cannot contemplate without lively apprehensions for the fate of liberty, civil and personal.

The great end with all men in their religious, their political,and their individual actions, is FREEDOM. The perfection of our nature is in being able “to look into the perfect law of liberty,” for liberty is only another name for power. The measure of my ability is always the exact measure of my freedom. The glory of humanity is in proportion to its freedom. Hence, humanity always applauds him who labors in right-down earnest to advance the cause of freedom. There is something intoxicating to every young and enthusiastic heart in this applause–always something intoxicating, too, in standing up for freedom, in opposing authority, in warring against fixed order, in throwing off the restraint of old and rigid customs, and enabling the soul and the body to develop themselves freely and in the natural proportions. Liberty is a soul-stirring word. It kindles all that is noble, generous, and heroic within us. Whoso speaks out for it can always be eloquent, and always sure of his audience.One loves so to speak if be be of a warm and generous temper, and we all love him who dares so to speak.

In consequence of this, we find our young men–brave spirits they are too–full of a deep, ardent love of liberty, and ready to do battle for her at all times, and against any [271] odds. They, in this, address themselves to what is strongest in our nature, and to what is noblest; and so doing become our masters, and carry us away with them. Here is the danger we apprehend. We fear no attacks on liberty but those made in the name of liberty; we fear no measures but such as shall be put forth and supported by those whose love of freedom, and whose impatience of restraint,are altogether superior to their practical wisdom. These substitute passion for judgment, enthusiasm for wisdom, and carry us away in a sort of divine madness whither we know not, and whither, in our cooler moments, we would not. It is in the name of liberty that Satan wars successfully against liberty.

We mean not here to say that we can have too much liberty, or that there is danger that any portion of our fellow-citizens will become too much in earnest for the advancement and security of liberty. What we fear is, on the one hand, the misinterpretation of liberty, and, on the other, the adoption of wrong or inadequate measures to establish or guaranty it. We fear that a large portion of the younger members of the Democratic party do misinterpret liberty. If they analyze their own minds, they will find that they are yet virtually understanding, liberty as we did when the great work to be done was to free the mass of the people from the dominion of kings and nobilities. They will find, we fear, that they have not thought,that in order to secure freedom any thing more was necessary, than to establish universal suffrage and eligibility, and to leave the people free to follow their own will, uncontrolled, unchecked. Hence, liberty with them is merely political. Where all are free to vote and to be voted for, there is all the freedom they contemplate.

Perhaps this is stated too positively. Perhaps it would be truer to say, that they do not see that any thing more is necessary,in order to render every man practically free; than the establishment of a perfectly democratic government. Where all the people take part in the government, are equally possessed of the right of suffrage and that of eligibility, and where the people are free to take any direction, at anytime, that the majority may determine, they suppose that there perfect freedom is as a matter of course. But this we have seen is not the fact,and cannot be the fact till the virtue and intelligence of the people are perfect, instead of being, as they now are, altogether imperfect, [272]and, in reference to what they should be, in order to render certain the end contemplated, as good as no virtue and intelligence at all. But ignorant of this fact, confiding in the virtue and intelligence of the people, feeling that all the obstacles liberty encounters are owing to the fact that the will of the people is not clearly and distinctly expressed, they labor to remove whatever tends in their judgment to restrain the action of the people, or the authoritative expression of the will of the majority. But when they have removed all these restraints, broken all barriers, and obtained all open field and fair play for the will of the people, what is thereto guaranty us the enjoyment of liberty?

This question leads us to the point to which all that we have thus far said has been directed. We solemnly protest against construing one word we have said into hostility to the largest freedom for all men;but we put it to our young friends, in sober earnest too, whether with them freedom is something positive; or whether they are in the habit of regarding it as merely negative? Do they not look upon liberty merely as freedom from certain restraints or obstacles, rather than as positive ability possessed by those who are free? They assume that we have the ability,the power, both individually and collectively,–when once the external restraints are taken off,–to be and to do all that is requisite for our highest individual and social weal. Is this assumption warrantable? Is man individually or socially sufficient for himself? Should not our politics,as well as our religion, teach us that it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps, and that he can work out his own salvation, only as a higher power, through grace, works in him to will and to do.

This bring[s] us back to the old question, Are the people competent to govern themselves? What we have said concerning the virtue and intelligence of the people, has been said for the express purpose of proving that they are not competent to govern themselves. We confess here to what we know in the eyes of our countrymen is a “damnable” political heresy, but, an’ they should burn us at the stake, we must tell them this notion of theirs about self-government is all moonshine; nay, a very Jack o’ Lantern, and can serve no better purpose, if followed, than to lead them from the high road, and plunge them in the mire or the swamp from which to extricate themselves will be no easy matter. The very word itself implies a contradiction. There is a government only where there is that which governs, and [273] that which is governed. In what is called self-government, the governor and the governed are one and the same, and therefore no government. That which governs is that which is governed; but how can the governor be the governed, or the governed the governor? We assure our readers, we are not playing on terms, nor quibbling about words. In this doctrine of self-government, the people as the governed,are absolutely indistinguishable from the people as governors. Tell us,then, in what consists the government? Tell us wherein this doctrine of self-government differs from no-government? But do we not need government?

“But you mistake the question. The question is not, Are the people competent to govern themselves? but, Are they able, of themselves, to institute and maintain wise and just civil government?” They who put the question in this form, admit that government is necessary; but they contend that the people, seeing this, will institute government, and voluntarily put a restraint on their own power. This is what we have done in this country. The people here are sovereign, but they have drawn up and ordained certain constitutions or fundamental laws, which limit their sovereignty and prescribe the mode in which it shall be exercised.

But who or what guaranties the constitution? In other words, assuming the constitution to be adopted, what is there back of the constitution that compels its observance, or prevents its violation? In short, what is the basis, the support of the constitution? A constitution,which is merely a written constitution, is only so much waste paper. There is always needed a power that shall make the written constitution the real,the living constitution of the people. Where in your democracy is this power? In the people unquestionably. “The people make the constitution,and they will have respect unto the work of their hands, and will therefore protect the constitution.” Admirable! The people voluntarily adopt a constitution,which constitution when adopted has no power to govern them, but what they voluntarily concede to it! Pray, wherein does this differ from no constitution at all? If the people are competent to frame the constitution and to maintain it, they are competent to govern themselves without the constitution, which we have already seen is not the fact. The constitution, if entrusted to the voluntary support of the people themselves, is worth nothing; for if the people will voluntarily abstain from doing what the constitution forbids,they would voluntarily [274] abstain from doing it even were there no constitution.The constitution in this case can give no additional security, for it gives nothing that we should not have without it.

What we insist on here is, that the constitution, if it emanate from the people, and rest for its support on their will, is absolutely indistinguishable from no constitution at all. What we want is something which shall govern. This, we are told, is the constitution. But the constitution, if it emanate from the people, and have no support but their will, is the people; and whatever power it may have, is after all only the power of the people. But it was the people, and not the people as individuals, but the people as the state, or body politic, that needed to be governed; and we have, even with the constitution, only the people with which to govern the people. They who tell us that the people will voluntarily impose and maintain the necessary restraints on their own will, do then by no means relieve us of our difficulties; for the will imposing the restraints,is identically the will to be restrained; and, therefore, they give us in the state but one will, and that will, since it imposes all restraints that are imposed, is really itself unrestrained. If the people are to be governed at all, there must be a power distinct from them and above them,sufficient to govern them. Now, can the people create this power? Will theyvoluntarily place a power above them, which can govern them;and therefore to which they must submit, whether they choose to submit or not? If so, we must cease, when they have so done, to talk of self-government,or of government by consent of the governed; for this power, whatever it be, wherever lodged must be, when constituted, distinct from the people and their sovereign. If the people have a sovereign, they cannot be themselves sovereign.

In all their speculations, they who differ from us, overlook the important fact that government is needed for the people as the state,as well as for the people as individuals. They assume, consciously or unconsciously, that the people, as the body politic, need no governing, and that, so viewed, they have in themselves a sort of inherent wisdom and virtue, which will lead them always to will and ordain what is wise and just, and only what is wise and just. They therefore seek government,not for the people as the body politic, but for the people as individuals.That is to say, they [275] seek not to restrain the power of the sovereign,but are willing to leave it absolute. Hence they proclaim the absolute sovereignty of the people, never ceasing to repeat, in season and out of season, that all legitimate power emanates from the people, and that the chief glory of the statesman is to find out and conform to the will of the people. We do not err in declaring that this is that theory of democracy which is becoming the dominant theory of all parties in the country. But,when we have reduced this theory to practice, when we have made the people supreme in the sense, and to the extent here implied, where is the practical guaranty for freedom? On what can we rely to protect our rights as men? Nay, what are we all in this case, as individuals, but the veriest slaves of the body politic? We have talked of certain inalienable rights, that is, rights which we possess by virtue of the fact that we are men, which we cannot ourselves surrender up, and which cannot be taken from us; but what is the use of talking about rights when we have no power to maintain them? My rights are worth nothing beyond my might to assert and maintain them against whosoever or whatsoever would usurp them.

Democracy is construed with us to mean the sovereignty of the people as the body politic; and the sovereignty of the people again is so construed that it becomes almost impossible to draw any line of distinction between the action of the people legally organized as the state, and the action of the people as a mob. The people in a legal or political sense, properly speaking, have no existence, no entity, therefore no rights,no sovereignty, save when organized into the body politic; and then their action is legitimate only when done through the forms which the body itself has prescribed. Yet we have seen it contended, and to an alarming extent,that the people, even outside and independent of the organism, exist as much as in it, and are as sovereign; and that a majority–aye, a bare majority counted by themselves–of the inhabitants of any given territory, have the right, if dissatisfied with the existing organism, to come together,informally, without any reference to existing authorities, and institute a new form of government, which shall legitimately supersede the old, and to which all the inhabitants of the territory shall owe allegiance!Admit this doctrine, and we ask our friends who have, we must believe,hastily and without reflection adopted it, what distinction they would make between the people and the mob? [276]

Let us look at this doctrine of popular sovereignty for a moment. We say, for instance, if the people of Massachusetts do not like their present form of government, they may make such alterations, acting through the existing forms, as they choose. These alterations, wise or unwise, would be legal, and binding upon the citizen. But suppose a number of individuals, dissatisfied with the existing provisions of the constitution,should call a meeting of individuals, who should frame a new constitution,send it out, and indeed obtain for it a majority of the votes in what is now the state of Massachusetts; this new constitution, according to the doctrine we are considering, would be the supreme law of the land. Be it so. But why restrict this to a majority of the inhabitants of the state?The men who are forming the new constitution must, of course, assume the nullity of the old, at least so far as their action is concerned, and also so far as it concerns the adoption of the new constitution. Assume the nullity of the constitution, and where would be Massachusetts? There would be, in a political sense, no Massachusetts at all. Why, then, cannot the new doctrine be applied to a section as well as to the whole territory?Why may not the majority of the inhabitants of what is now a county, a town, or a school district, if they choose, set up the same theory, and form and enforce a constitution for themselves? Outside of the existing organism there is no state, county, town, or school district, for these are all creations of the existing organism. Then we see not what there is to prevent the application of the doctrine to themselves by any number of individuals who choose. Nay, what is there to prevent its adoption by single individuals, and to make it not absurd for an individual to say to the state, “I disown you; I am my own state; I ask nothing of you, and I will concede you nothing. I am a man; I am my own sovereign, and you have no authority over me but by my consent. That consent I have never given; or if I have heretofore given it, I now withdraw it. You have, then,no right over me, and if you attempt to control me you are a tyrant.” This is no fancy sketch. This language we have actually heard used in sober earnest by one who knew very well what he was saying, and who so strongly believed in what he was saving, that he has chosen himself to be put in gaol rather than to acknowledge the authority of the state by paying a tax. Once proclaim the absolute sovereignty of the people, acting without[277] reference, to political organisms, that is, as a mass of individuals,or once proclaim, as the governor of New Hampshire does in his letter to the governor, or acting governor of Rhode Island, that the people are”sovereigns,” that is, making, each individual a sovereign, and you can exercise through the state no authority over any man, not even to punish him for the greatest social offence, without his consent. Your collector goes with his tax bill, the individual rightly exclaims, “Away, I know you not.” A family is living in open violation of the laws of God, you send your police to arrest them; they have a right to answer, “We are sovereign;we do not acknowledge our obligation to obey your sovereign; we are not accountable to your laws; we have formed our own constitution, and make our own laws; we hold to self-government.” The good sense of all parties, of course, would arrest the application of the doctrine long before it could come to this extent; but to this extent the doctrine we combat may be legitimately carried and in this fact we may and ought to see its radical unsoundness.

For ourselves, we object to the definition of democracy, which makes it consist in the sovereignty of the people. The sovereignty of the people, in the sense commonly contended for, we own we do not admit.The people, as an aggregate of individuals, are not sovereign, and the only sense in which they are sovereign at all, is when organized into a state, or body politic, and acting through its forms. No action of the inhabitants of a given territory, even if it include ninety-nine out of a hundred of all the individuals, is done by the PEOPLE, unless done in and through the forms prescribed by the political organism; and all action done in opposition to that organism, no matter how many are engaged in it, is the action of the mob, disorderly, illegal, and to a greater or less degree criminal, treasonable in fact, and as such legitimately punishable.

We do not wish to be too severe on the advocates of the doctrine we oppose. It has been with most of them only a momentary error, and which, though pelting us unmercifully for exposing it, they will quietly abandon, and without confessing it, feel shame for ever having advocated. Confident of this, we give them leave to say all the hard things of us they please; for we acknowledge that for a moment we too fell into the same error. Our sympathy with the end which we saw a portion of our friends struggling [278] to gain, and by means which were justifiable only on the doctrine in question, blinded us for a time, as we presume it has others,to the real character of the doctrine itself. Let this confession suffice for us and for our brethren. They of course will not accede to it, but we venture to predict, that, as the excitement of the struggle to which we have alluded subsides, and matters reassume their orderly and peaceful course, there will be found few so bold as to reiterate the doctrine.

But the fact that this doctrine has been put forth, in sober earnest, by men in high places as well as by men in low places, is itself an argument in our favor, and goes to prove that the people are not to be relied on so implicitly as some of our democratic friends pretend.The case we have had in mind, strikingly illustrates the sort of danger to which, under a democracy, interpreted to mean the absolute sovereignty of the people, we are peculiarly and at all times exposed. The ends the people seek to gain, are, we willingly admit, for the most part just and desirable; but the justice and desirableness of the end, almost always blind them to the true character and tendency of the means by which they seek to gain it. They become intent on the end, so intent as to be worked up to a passion for it,–for the people never act but in a passion,–and then in going to it, they break down every thing which obstructs or hinders their progress. Now, what they break down, though in the way of gaining that particular end, may after all be our only guaranty of other ends altogether more valuable. Here is the danger. What more desirable than personal freedom? What more noble than to strike off the fetters of the slave? Aye, but if, in striking off his fetters, you trample on the constitution and laws, which are your only guaranty of freedom for those who are now free, and also for those you propose to make free, what do you gain to freedom? Great wrong may be done in seeking even a good end, if we look not well to the means we adopt. Philanthropy itself not unfrequently is so intent on the end, that in going to it, it tramples down more rights than it vindicates by success. We own, therefore, that the older we grow, and the longer we study in that school, the only one in which fools will learn, the more danger do we see in popular passions, and the less is our confidence in the wisdom and virtue of the people.

“But what is our resource against all these evils? What [279] remedy do you propose?” These are fair questions, but we do not propose to answer them now. We may hereafter undertake to do it, and what we shall have to say will be arranged under the heads of the constitution, the church, and individual statesmen. Without an efficient constitution, which is not only an instrument through which the people govern, but which is a power that governs them, by effectually confining their action to certain specific subjects, there is and can be no good government, no individual liberty. Without the influence of wise and patriotic statesmen, whose importance,in our adulation of the people as a mass, we have underrated, and without the Christian church exerting the hallowed and hallowing influences of Christianity upon the people both as individuals and as the body politic,we see little hope, even with the best constitution, of securing the blessings of freedom and good government. But these are matters into the discussion of which we cannot now enter. Our purpose in this article has been to draw the attention of our political friends to certain heresies of doctrine which are springing up amongst us, and enlisting quite too much sympathy,and which we believe pregnant with mischief.

Democracy, in our judgment, has been wrongly defined to be a form of government; it should be understood of the end, rather than of the means, and be regarded as a principle rather than a form. The end we are to aim at, is the freedom and progress of all men, especially of the poorest and most numerous class. He is a democrat who goes for the highest moral, intellectual, and physical elevation of the great mass of the people, especially of the laboring population, indistinction from a special devotion to the interests and pleasures of the wealthier, more refined, or more distinguished few. But the means by which this elevation is to be obtained, are not necessarily the institution of the purely democratic form of government. Here has been our mistake. We have been quite too ready to conclude that if we only once succeed in establishing democracy,–universal suffrage and eligibility, without constitutional restraints on the power of the people,–as a form of government, the end will follow as a matter of course. The considerations we have adduced,we think prove to the contrary.

In coming to this conclusion, it will be seen that we differ from our friends not in regard to the end, but in regard to [280]the means. We believe, and this is the point on which we insist, that the end, freedom and progress, will not be secured by this loose radicalism with regard to popular sovereignty, and these demagogical boasts of the virtue and intelligence of the people, which have begun to be so fashionable.They who are seeking to advance the cause of humanity by warring against all existing institutions, religions, civil, or political, do seem to us to be warring against the very end they wish to gain.

It has been said, that mankind are always divided into two parties, one of which may be called the, stationary party, the other the movement party, or party of progress. Perhaps it is so; if so, all of us who have any just conceptions of our manhood, and of our duty to our fellow men, must arrange ourselves on the side of the movement. But the movement itself is divided into two sections,–one the radical section,seeking progress by destruction; the other the conservative section, seeking progress through and in obedience to existing institutions. Without asking whether the rule applies beyond our own country, we contend that the conservative section is the only one that a wise man can call his own. In youth we feel differently. We find evil around us; we are in a dungeon; loaded all over with chains; we cannot make a single free movement; and we utter one long,loud, indignant protest against whatever is. We feel then that we can advance religion only by destroying the church; learning only by breaking down the universities; and freedom only by abolishing the state. Well, this is one method of progress; but, we ask, has it ever been known to be successful?Suppose that we succeed in demolishing the old edifice, in sweeping away all that the human race has been accumulating for the last six thousand years, what have we gained? Why, we are back where we were six thousand years ago; and without any assurance that the human race will not reassume its old course and rebuild what we have destroyed.

As we grow older, sadder, and wiser, and pass from idealists to realists, we change all this, and learn that the only true way of carrying the race forward is through its existing institutions. We plant ourselves, if on the sad, still on the firm reality of things, and content ourselves with gaining what can be gained with the means existing institutions furnish. We seek to advance religion through and [281] in obedience to the church; law and social well-being through and in obedience to the state. Let it not be said that in adopting this last course, we change sides, leave the movement, and go over to the stationary party. No such thing. We do not thus in age forget the dreams of our youth. It is because we remember those dreams, because young enthusiasm has become firm and settled principle,and youthful hopes positive convictions, and because we would realize what we dared dream, when we first looked forth on the face of humanity, that we cease to exclaim “Liberty against Order,” and substitute the practical formula, “LIBERTY ONLY IN AND THROUGH ORDER.” The love of liberty loses none of its intensity. In the true manly heart it burns deeper and clearer with age, but it burns to enlighten and to warm, not to consume.

Here is the practical lesson we have sought to unfold. While we accept the end our democratic friends seek, while we feel our lot is bound up with theirs, we have wished to impress upon their minds,that we are to gain that end only through fixed and established order; not against authority, but by and in obedience to authority, and an authority competent to ordain and to guaranty it. Liberty without the guaranties of authority, would be the worst of tyrannies.

(1843)


Featured: Orestes Augustus Brownson, by George Peter Alexander Healy; painted in 1863.


Vladimir Putin and Tucker Carlson: The Geopolitics of Dialogue

Why is Tucker Carlson’s interview momentous for both the West and Russia?

Let us start with the simpler part—Russia. Here, Tucker Carlson has become a focal point of convergence for two different—polar—segments of Russian society: the ideological patriots and the elite Westernizers who nevertheless remain loyal to Putin and the Special Military Operation (SMO). For the patriots, Tucker Carlson is simply ours. He is a traditionalist, a right-wing conservative, a staunch opponent of liberalism. This is what walking to the Russian Tsar looks like in the 21st century.

Putin does not often interact with the brightest representatives of the fundamentally conservative camp. And the attention that the Kremlin pays him kindles the heart of a patriot, inspiring him to continue the conservative-traditionalist course in Russia itself. Now it is possible and necessary to do so: the Russian authorities have decided on an ideology. We have taken this path and we will not turn away from it. But patriots are always afraid that we will turn back. No.

On the other hand, the Westernizers have also breathed a sigh of relief: “Well, everything is not so bad in the West, and there are good and objective people there; we told you! Let’s be friends at least with such a West, Westernizers think, even though the rest of the globalist liberal West does not want to be friends, but only bombards us with sanctions and missiles and cluster bombs, killing our women, children and the elderly. We are at war with the liberal West; let there be friendship with the conservative West.
Thus, in the person of Tucker Carlson, Russian patriots and Russian Westernizers (already more and more Russian and less Western) have come to a consensus.

In the West itself, the situation is even more fundamental. Tucker Carlson is a symbolic figure. He is now the main symbol of an America that hates Biden, liberals and globalists and is preparing to vote for Trump. Trump, Carlson and Musk, and Texas Governor Abbott, are the faces of the impending American Revolution, this time the Conservative Revolution. And now Russia is tapping into this already quite powerful resource. No, it is not about Putin’s support for Trump; that could easily be minimized in a war with the United States. Carlson’s visit is about something else: about the fact that Biden and his maniacs have actually attacked a great nuclear power with the hands of Kiev terrorists, and humanity is about to be destroyed. Nothing more, nothing less.

And the world globalist media continues to spin Marvel-series for the infantile, in which the spider-man Zelensky magically defeats the Kremlin’s “Dr. Evil” with the help of superpowers and magic piglets. But that is just a cheap, silly TV series. And in reality, it is all about the use of nuclear weapons and possibly the destruction of mankind. Tucker Carlson has offered a reality check: does the West realize what it is doing, pushing the world towards the Apocalypse? There is a real Putin and a real Russia, not these staged characters and sets from Marvel. Look at what the globalists have done and what we are standing right up to! And it is not the content of the Putin interview; it is the very fact that a man like Tucker Carlson visited a country like Russia and a politician like Putin at a time like this.

Tucker Carlson’s arrival in Moscow may be the last chance to stop the extinction of humanity. And the gigantic billion-dollar attention to this momentous interview on the part of humanity itself, as well as the frenzied inhuman rage of Biden, the globalists, and the world’s decay-addled philistines, is evidence that this humanity is aware of the seriousness of what is happening. The only way to save the world is to stop now. And to do that, America must elect Trump. And choose Tucker Carlson. And Ilon Musk. And Abbott. And we get a chance to stand on the edge of the abyss. And compared to that, everything else is secondary. Liberalism and its agenda have brought humanity to a dead end.

Now the choice is: either liberals or humanity. Tucker Carlson chooses humanity, and that is why he came to Moscow to see Putin. And everyone in the world realized what he came for and how important it was.

The content of the interview was not sensational. Much more important is its very fact. And the photo of President Vladimir Putin talking to the hero of American patriotism, the indomitable Tucker Carlson. Conservatives of all countries united. In a multipolar world, the West, too, must have its share. But Western civilization will be the last to join BRICS.

Sleepy Joe then came to, and having watched with horror Putin’s conversation with Tucker Carlson, decided to interfere in world affairs. At first, Blinken and Nuland advised him to just declare that no such interview had even happened, that it was fake news, readily “disproved” by fact-checkers, and anyone who claims that there was an interview was a bellowing conspiracy theorist. But that initial plan was rejected, and Biden decided to honestly state that, contrary to the findings of the prosecutors’ probe, he is not a senile old madman out of his mind. “That’s not true, I’m not a senile old madman,” Biden indignantly denied the prosecutors’ findings…. And then forgot what he wanted to say next.

President Putin has spoken clearly about our Old Lands. It is important. The West will not get them. And Ukrainians live on them and will live on them, if Zelensky, Umerov and Syrsky, who have the most distant relation to the Malorussians, do not destroy all Malorussians and Malorussian women in the near future. Then there will be no Ukrainians left. And the Old Lands will have to be populated by someone else. God forbid we live to see that. On the agenda is the revolt of the Malorussians against the anti-Ukrainian puppet government, which has subjected Ukrainians to a real genocide by its policy.

The interview of Putin with Tucker Carlson is the most successful move by the Russian media strategy during the entire time of the SMO. Of course, the initiative clearly came from the brilliant American journalist himself, but responding to it and supporting it was a creative, brilliant decision by the Kremlin. Carlson hacks into the system of globalist propaganda by telling the truth of the people, of society, in spite of the systematized lies of the elites. A win-win, but difficult, a heroic move: the truth of the people against the lies of the elites. Putin has something to say to both the West and the East. And they want to hear his speech, his arguments, to know his picture of the world, his views on the future of Russia and humanity. On this depends, in many respects, whether this humanity itself will exist or not. Ask honestly, you will get an honest answer.

The number of views of Putin’s interview with Tucker Carlson on social network X has far exceeded 100 million [as of this article]. I think cumulatively the interview will be viewed by a billion.

Let us emphasize once again: Tucker Carlson is not just a journalist and not even just a non-conformist journalist, he is a well-established and consistent (paleo) conservative with a clear and well-thought-out ideology, value system and world picture. And his visit to Russia is not a pursuit of sensation, but part of an ideological program. It is a political visit. With Tucker Carlson’s visit, the conservative wing of American society (at least half of it) will come to define its attitude toward Russia and Putin. Tucker Carlson is a conservative politician, traditionalist and public figure. In his person, conservative America asked the President of Russia the questions it was really interested in and got answers. This is a double blow to the globalist liberal lobby in the US—external from Putin and internal from Tucker Carlson (read Trump). Interestingly, there is also such a thing as MAGA communism in the US—Jackson Hinkle, Infrared, etc. These are friends of conservative Tucker Carlson, yet Marxists who support Trump and call for Make America Great Again (MAGA). Thus, there are also normal leftists. And together they are determined to crush liberal hegemony.
Vladimir Putin’s interview with Tucker Carlson has already led to Biden’s unseating in the presidential race and essentially Trump’s victory in the US election. That is what real soft-power is—just one thing, and history now flows in a different direction.


Alexander Dugin is a widely-known and influential Russian philosopher. His most famous work is The Fourth Political Theory (a book banned by major book retailers), in which he proposes a new polity, one that transcends liberal democracy, Marxism and fascism. He has also introduced and developed the idea of Eurasianism, rooted in traditionalism. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitika.


The Taiwanese Wild Card

On January 13, 2024, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Taiwan held an election for Taiwan’s chief executive. Three candidates ran in the election: Lai Qingde (Democratic Progressive Party), Hou Yui (Kuomintang), and Ke Wen-je (Taiwan People’s Party). Lai Qingde, whose party favors Taiwanese independence, won.

Some experts argue that as a result, Taiwan will begin to distance itself from China and Russia and move closer to the United States and its allies, which will complicate the international situation.

However, the Democratic Progressive Party has won elections many times before, and is currently the ruling party on the island, having won the previous election in 2020, which did not result in serious consequences after all. Lai himself has said in the run-up to the election that he intends to pursue Taiwanese independence; he is more radical than current leader Tsai Ing-wen.

Regarding the losing candidates, the following can be said.

The candidate of the Kuomintang party, Hou Yui, is against the independence of the island and for the normalization of relations with Beijing, but on Kuomintang’s terms. In reality, it turns out that he is supposedly against the independence of Taiwan, but in reality he cannot go for unification because he opposes the Communist Party of China. This is the traditional position of this party, which considers itself the national party of China with patriotic origins. Hou Yui has always emphasized the importance of supporting peace and stability on both sides of the Taiwan Strait and has advocated promoting dialogue and cooperation with China, believing that this is necessary for Taiwan’s prosperity and development.

Taiwan People’s Party candidate Ke Wen-je supports maintaining the current relationship with China for the sake of preserving peace; i.e.; he is essentially for a continuation of the current course of the Taiwanese authorities—not to get closer to China, but also not to make it so that China is forced to use force.

Chinese experts consider the first two politicians pro-American, and Ke Wen-je pro-Japanese, believing that in fact, whichever of them is elected, there will be no significant improvement in the situation in the island’s relations with China.

The election is attracting global attention because it is not only a struggle between Taiwan’s domestic political forces, but also a reflection of tensions between China and the United States.

The Taiwanese themselves are divided into several camps, some believe that Taiwan should avoid radical actions for the sake of peace, others are in favor of independence, counting on protection and support from Western countries, and others are inclined, if not to unification with China, then to integration with it.

The Chinese authorities intend to seek reunification by implementing the “one country, two systems” model tested when Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 and Macau in 1999. Taiwan is expected to be within China but enjoy a large degree of autonomy. The accession of Taiwan by force would be disadvantageous to China, as the two sides would suffer serious economic damage.

Taiwan is a leader in the global semiconductor manufacturing market. As Bloomberg notes, if war breaks out in the Taiwan Strait, it could result in economic losses of $10 trillion for the entire world, equivalent to 10% of the current global GDP.

China is very much integrated into the world economy, so it would suffer tremendous damage. Therefore, the Chinese leadership is trying to achieve unification through peaceful methods.

The emphasis here is on the use of soft power and traditional Chinese pragmatism. This is expressed in the fact that Taiwanese can visit China, work there and do business, use the national social policy (which cannot be used by foreigners who do not have citizenship of the People’s Republic of China); enterprises with Taiwanese capital operating on the mainland can receive tax breaks and other benefits.

According to the 13th Five-Year Plan, a high-speed railroad from Beijing to Taipei is included in the national high-speed railroad network construction program. It is expected to be put into operation in 2035.

On Jan. 8, China’s Ministry of Commerce, Taiwan Affairs Office, Reform and Development Committee and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology approved a set of measures to further strengthen trade and economic cooperation between Fujian Province and Taiwan to deepen economic integration in the Taiwan Strait. Obviously, this is to demonstrate to Taiwanese voters the benefits of establishing relations with the “big motherland.”

In March 2005, China passed the Anti-Separatism Law, which determined that declaring Taiwanese independence was a pretext for war. Therefore, decisive actions by the new Taiwanese leadership could provoke a military conflict—if Lai declared that Taiwan was now an independent state, he would leave Xi Jinping no choice but to use force.

Therefore, the Chinese authorities have been making preparations not only among the Taiwanese, but also on the international stage.

On January 8th and 9th, the 17th working meeting between the U.S. and Chinese Defense Departments was held, at which the Chinese side stressed that “there will never be the slightest compromise or concession on the Taiwan issue. The United States must abide by the ‘one China’ principle, effectively fulfill relevant obligations, stop arming Taiwan and oppose Taiwan’s ‘independence’.”

Prior to this, on January 7th, China’s Foreign Ministry announced sanctions against five U.S. military-industrial complex companies that supplied arms to Taiwan. A U.S. spokesman said on January 9 that the U.S. side “urges Beijing to stop exerting military, diplomatic, and economic pressure on Taiwan.”

The U.S. strategy is to maintain the status quo of the Taiwan issue and gradually arm Taiwan in order to periodically escalate the situation in the Taiwan Strait, causing trouble for China by “containing” it and intimidating its neighbors in the region. To this end, the U.S. recently provided $500 million in military assistance to Taiwan.

But, on the other hand, in the current international situation, when their considerable forces are drawn to Israel and Ukraine, the Americans will not benefit from a military conflict between China and Taiwan, as it will require their direct intervention, huge financial expenditures, and it is not certain that the U.S. will come out of this conflict victorious. On the contrary, it could lead to the Taiwan issue being resolved once and for all in favor of China.

Some Taiwanese political analysts draw associations between Lai Qingde, Zelensky and Netanyahu, calling them “dangerous friends of the US,” implying that their behavior could create problems for Americans, putting the US in a difficult position.

Therefore, senior White House officials periodically emphasize that the United States opposes “Taiwan independence” and supports the “one China” principle, thus preventing the Taiwanese leadership from gaining confidence in unconditional U.S. support.

At the same time, a peaceful unification of Taiwan and China would also be disadvantageous for the United States, as it would strengthen China’s geopolitical position, provide it with technological advantages, and reduce the ability of the Americans to influence the Chinese leadership.

In this regard, the United States is taking steps to “warm up” Taiwan. Thus, recently 73 senators and representatives of the U.S. Congress passed a “pro-Taiwan resolution,” promising to use all effective methods to support the “freedom” of the Taiwanese people. And on the eve of the Taiwanese elections, the U.S. sent 148 million liters of diesel fuel to military bases in the Philippines in order to use the Philippines as a springboard for armed intervention in the Taiwan Strait at any time.

Based on the above, we can conclude that the U.S. and China face complex geopolitical tasks: they need to avoid military conflict to achieve their goals, which not only do not coincide, but are opposite.

The situation is aggravated by some unpredictability of Lai Qingde. Obviously, the Americans will have to restrain him periodically to prevent him from making too serious provocations toward China.

On May 20, Lai Qingde will be inaugurated, after which we can expect some concrete actions from him that will determine the further development of the situation. If Lai does not provide an occasion to launch military action, we can expect that the Chinese leadership will continue to work to win the trust of the Taiwanese people and change their political preferences. If Lai Qingde does something rash, there will be a real danger of a military conflict that will affect not only Southeast Asia, but also the world as a whole—the world economy will face a number of fundamental changes that will affect almost all business spheres.


Konstantin Batanov holds a PhD in Economic Sciences and is Associate Professor at the Department of Theory and Methodology of Translation, Higher School of Translation and Interpretation, Moscow State University. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitika.


Trump’s War on the Deep State

Donald Trump ended a recent statement with the words, “I will destroy the deep state and restore a government controlled by the people and for the people.” This ten-point statement is a declaration of war on the deep state. This state, whose existence cannot be denied, is behind the assassination of John Kennedy, and most likely behind the impeachment of Richard Nixon, not to mention the one planned for Donald Trump. To say such things is almost suicidal. What would happen if he disappeared from the political scene?

Listening to the former president’s words, two of John Kennedy’s speeches come to mind: his graduation speech at American University on June 10, 1963, and his address to the Media and Publishers Association on April 27, 1961.

In the first, eight months after the Cuban crisis, Kennedy advocated peace—by which he meant a lull in US-Soviet relations. On that day, he signed his own death warrant, even if there were other factors to consider in his assassination.

In the second speech, he bluntly described his loneliness in the face of what he calls “a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on secret practices to increase its sphere of influence.” Faced with this deep state that had to be destroyed, he asked for the media’s assistance: “I ask for your help in the face of this immense task in order to inform and alert the American people.” With the benefit of hindsight, we are tempted to think that this was an innocent, even naive step on his part.

Trump’s words are reminiscent of Kennedy’s. Like Kennedy, he seems to have taken a great risk. Underneath the apparent calm, tensions are extremely high in the United States. Some analysts do not hesitate to evoke the possibility of a new civil war. But what then? Fortunately, the worst is never certain.


Jean-Luc Basle is a former Vice President of the Citigroup New York (retired).