[Make sure to read Joseph Klein’s contributions in Jamie Glazov’s new book: Barack Obama’s True Legacy: How He Transformed America.]
New York Times foreign policy columnist Thomas Friedman wrote an opinion piece published by the New York Times on October 4th, entitled “How Four Leaders Are Turning the World Upside Down.” The four leaders whom Mr. Friedman lumped together in a disgusting display of moral equivalence were Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, former U.S. President Donald Trump, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He accused them all of having “created massive disruptions inside and outside their countries based on pure self-interest, rather than the interests of their people.”
Thomas Friedman’s condemnations of Putin and Xi were spot on, but he went off the rails completely by including Netanyahu and Trump on his list and claiming that Donald Trump “is the most dangerous of the four.” Friedman left out altogether North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un who has ramped up North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile testing and launches. And he skipped over Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose regime is arming Russia in Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine and is providing military and financial support to Islamist terrorists.
Mr. Friedman has written several columns that have taken Prime Minister Netanyahu to task, mostly because of what he absurdly has labeled “a judicial coup led by Netanyahu.” The so-called “judicial coup” was legislation approved by Israel’s duly elected Knesset to rein in the runaway power of unelected Israeli Supreme Court judges. The judges have taken it upon themselves to invalidate laws passed by the Knesset because the judges believed the laws were not “reasonable.”
Israel’s judiciary arrogated to itself the power to override legislation and government executive actions based on the judges’ subjective judgments that not all the related aspects of the policy issues involved were adequately considered and accorded their proper weight. The judges went far beyond deciding whether the Knesset or government officials exceeded their authority as defined in Israel’s Basic Laws or arbitrarily committed an outrageous act that was grossly unjust. And they went far beyond deciding whether the Knesset or government officials unduly infringed on a person’s fundamental human rights to dignity and liberty as spelled out in the Basic Laws. Instead of serving as an independent check to ensure that these limits on legislative and executive powers were not exceeded, the Israeli Supreme Court judges have turned themselves into an unelected super-legislative branch.
Prime Minister Netanyahu and his duly elected governing coalition were attempting to restore democracy through the Israeli people’s elected representatives against a judicial “coup.”
Moreover, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government did not conduct mass arrests and imprisonment of peaceful protesters. Freedom of speech and assembly of those who disagreed with the legislation to reform Israel’s judicial system were respected. Presidents Putin and Xi, on the other hand, lock up peaceful dissenters, if not make them disappear for good. Putting Israel’s prime minister on the same list as these two brutal dictators is an abomination.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has also proven to be a peacemaker, both by entering into the Abraham Accords and attempting to bring Israel and Saudi Arabia together in what would be an historic agreement to establish diplomatic recognition between the two former enemies. President Putin is a warmonger who invaded Ukraine and threatens other sovereign countries. President Xi is putting increased military pressure on Taiwan and encroaching on other countries’ rights in the South China Sea.
Mr. Friedman’s claim that Donald Trump “is the most dangerous of the four” world leaders that he listed in his column demonstrates how his extreme case of Trump derangement syndrome has blinded him to any semblance of the truth.
Friedman complains that Trump has ignored the troublemakers in the world and “has praised the troublemakers, including Putin. It’s what makes the prospect of another Trump presidency so frightening, so reckless and so incomprehensible.”
Donald Trump’s actions as president tell a different story than Thomas Friedman’s anti-Trump spin.
President Trump removed the restraints on the military so that it could decimate ISIS. He also ordered the killings of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as well as Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian regime’s vicious leader of the terrorist-sponsoring Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its ruthless Quds Force. Far from ignoring these troublemakers who represented major threats to America and its allies, Trump used the military might of the United States to wipe them out.
President Trump provided Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, which President Obama had refused to do. Vladimir Putin grabbed Crimea during the Obama administration and invaded Ukraine during the Biden administration, not during the Trump administration. Putin took advantage of the weaknesses he saw in both Obama and Biden to make his aggressive moves but decided not to test Trump too far because he did not know how Trump would react.
As for China, President Trump pushed back against the regime, particularly when it came to trade by imposing stiff tariffs on Chinese imports. The Trump administration also “increased the frequency of U.S. Navy ships sailing through the Taiwan Strait, and sold arms to Taiwan with greater regularity — and less concern about China’s objections — than past administrations,” reported an NPR international correspondent who covers Chinese affairs.
President Biden has talked a tough game by indicating he would support sending U.S. troops to help Taiwan defend itself if China attacked Taiwan, but his aides walked back Biden’s bluster each time. After witnessing President Biden’s disastrous retreat from Afghanistan, President Xi sized up President Biden as a weak president. Xi has stepped up his air and maritime military maneuvers around Taiwan and his threats against Taiwan since President Biden took office.
“When the world becomes this chaotic,” Thomas Friedman wrote, “the rest of the world depends on the United States to take the lead in containing the trouble and opposing the troublemakers.” That is a fair statement, but Friedman has gone after the wrong U.S. president for not taking on the troublemakers as the leader of the free world by blaming Trump.
Joe Biden, not Donald Trump, has been the president who has allowed Russia and China, as well as Iran and North Korea, to foment serious trouble without facing any major consequences. As a result, the world has become far more chaotic and dangerous since President Biden took office.