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WAR WITH IRAN: Inescapable logic of Donald Trump’s regime change policy

Despite denials Donald Trump’s announcements clearly point to regime change in Iran as the objective

Alexander Mercouris

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Donald Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”) agreed between the world community and Iran has set the stage for the next major war in the Middle East.

Trump’s decision to pull out of the JCPOA was widely expected.  His decision to impose across the board sanctions against Iran was not.  It seems that the US’s European allies – Britain, France and Germany – were not informed of this in advance, and are making no secret of their dismay.

Moreover it is quite clear that the US is intending to sanction any country which seeks to help Iran circumvent the sanctions.  The White House’s statement about this could not be more clear

  • The JCPOA enriched the Iranian regime and enabled its malign behavior, while at best delaying its ability to pursue nuclear weapons and allowing it to preserve nuclear research and development.

  • The President has directed his Administration to immediately begin the process of re-imposing sanctions related to the JCPOA.

  • The re-imposed sanctions will target critical sectors of Iran’s economy, such as its energy, petrochemical, and financial sectors.

    • Those doing business in Iran will be provided a period of time to allow them to wind down operations in or business involving Iran.
  • Those who fail to wind down such activities with Iran by the end of the period will risk severe consequences.

  • United States withdrawal from the JCPOA will pressure the Iranian regime to alter its course of malign activities and ensure that Iranian bad acts are no longer rewarded.  As a result, both Iran and its regional proxies will be put on notice.  As importantly, this step will help ensure global funds stop flowing towards illicit terrorist and nuclear activities.

(bold italics added)

Though the sanctions are unilateral – imposed only by the US, and not by the UN Security Council – the US, in accordance with its current doctrine that its laws have worldwide application, will impose massive fines on any company or business which now trades with Iran.

That makes it inconceivable that any Western business or company, or any international company which trades in dollars or which has assets in any Western country, will defy the US by continuing to trade or do business with Iran.

Since Donald Trump’s announcement there has been a lot of brave talk of the EU defying the sanctions, and protecting EU companies which wish to continue to trade with Iran.

It should be said clearly that this is no more than talk.  Though the Europeans are shocked and upset by Donald Trump’s announcement, trade with Iran is simply not important enough for the European economy for the EU states to defy the US in that way.

Over the next few weeks and months trade between the EU and Iran – and between the US’s other allies such as Japan and South Korea and Iran – will come to a stop.

The US is pulling out of the JCPOA and is imposing across-the-board sanctions on Iran not because Iran has violated any provision of the JCPOA.  On the contrary even the US grudgingly admits that Iran has abided fully by the terms of the JCPOA.

The US is pulling out of the JCPOA and is imposing across-the-board sanctions on Iran because it fears that Iran is becoming too powerful.

This is made clear by the extraordinary demands the US is making of Iran, which amount to an ultimatum to Iran to change the pattern of its entire domestic and foreign policy

  • President Trump will work to assemble a broad coalition of nations to deny Iran all paths to a nuclear weapon and to counter the totality of the regime’s malign activities.
    • Nations must work together to halt the Iranian regime’s destabilizing drive for regional hegemony.
      • In Syria, the Iranian regime supports the Assad regime and is complicit in Assad’s atrocities against the Syrian people.
      • In Yemen, the regime has escalated the conflict and used the Houthis as a proxy to attack other nations.
      • In Iraq, Iran’s IRGC sponsors Shia militant groups and terrorists.
      • In Lebanon, the Iranian regime enables Hizballah to play a highly destabilizing role and to build an arsenal of weapons that threatens the region.
    • The Administration’s actions are directed against the malign behavior of the Iranian regime, not against the Iranian people, who are the regime’s longest-suffering victims.
    • Never have an ICBM, cease developing any nuclear-capable missiles, and stop proliferating ballistic missiles to others.
    • Cease its support for terrorists, extremists, and regional proxies, such as Hizballah, Hamas, the Taliban, and al-Qa’ida.
    • End its publicly declared quest to destroy Israel.
    • Stop its threats to freedom of navigation, especially in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea.
    • Cease escalating the Yemen conflict and destabilizing the region by proliferating weapons to the Houthis.
    • End its cyber-attacks against the United States and our allies, including Israel.
    • Stop its grievous human rights abuses, shown most recently in the regime’s crackdown against widespread protests by Iranian citizens.
    • Stop its unjust detention of foreigners, including United States citizens.President Trump is making clear that, in addition to never developing a nuclear weapon, the Iranian regime must:

These demands are so extreme that no sovereign state could ever accept them and retain its independence.

In fact some of the demands are of such a nature that Iran could not agree to them even if it wanted to.

By way of example, Iran cannot “cease its support” for Al-Qaeda, since that fanatical sectarian Wahhabi terrorist organisation is Iran’s enemy, and is not and cannot be supported by it.

Similarly Iran cannot “end its publicly declared quest to destroy Israel” since it has never “publicly declared” such a quest for the simple reason that it doesn’t have one (contrary to claims which are repeatedly made former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never said that Israel “should be wiped off the map”).

Defenders of Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA say that his intention is to force Iran to the negotiating table so that he can extract a better deal from Iran than the JCPOA was.

A classic expression of that view is set out in this editorial by The Times of London

The Trump administration’s objections go to the heart of the agreement’s terms, however. The deal imposed only a 15-year interdict on producing enriched uranium. Even before that clock timed out, there were to be other easements. After eight years, for instance, restrictions on particular kinds of centrifuges were set to fall away. These sunset clauses, Mr Trump has reasonably argued, always meant that Iranian ambitions to become a nuclear power would persist. The agreement did nothing, meanwhile, to curb Iran’s ballistic missile programme. The regime for inspection, too, although uniquely intrusive, left much to be desired…..

The best outcome would be for European countries to work in tandem with the US administration to reach an agreement without sunset clauses, covering ballistic missiles and binding Iran to broader commitments than those on nuclear development.

If that is possible, and Iran feels so overwhelmed by economic pressure that it can only come back to the table, then the return of a nuclear weapons programme is not a foregone conclusion. Having shown he is willing to walk, Mr Trump may now surprise US allies and push Iran into making further concessions.

Any Iranian official reading the US’s list of demands would however have no hesitation in dismissing this.

Whilst Donald Trump and the US government may pretend that they are open to a new and better deal with Iran, the sheer scale of what they are demanding from Iran shows that what they really want from Iran is not more concessions but regime change.

I say this because it would be impossible for the Iranian government to accept these demands and survive in its present form, and it is impossible to believe that those around Donald Trump who support his policy and who will have helped him to formulate his demands – notably Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton – don’t know it.

In fact the White House statement makes it perfectly clear what the plan is: suffocate Iran’s economy in order to push it into crisis so as to trigger mass unrest which will bring down the Iranian government.

The JCPOA foolishly gave the Iranian regime a windfall of cash and access to the international financial system for trade and investment.

Instead of using the money from the JCPOA to support the Iranian people at home, the regime has instead funded a military buildup and continues to fund its terrorist proxies, such as Hizballah and Hamas.

Iran violated the laws and regulations of European countries to counterfeit the currency of its neighbor, Yemen, to support the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force’s destabilizing activities.

In other words trade and business with Iran is impermissible because it allows Iran to conduct its foreign policy.  Strangling Iran economically will prevent it conducting its foreign policy.

Since that foreign policy is inherent to Iran’s political system, that means strangling Iran’s economy in order to change its political system.

Forcing political change is after all the ultimate intention of all the sanctions the US has imposed on every country on which it has imposed sanctions ever since the Second World War ended.

The sanctions the US is now imposing on Iran are no different.  In fact they are simply the latest and one of the most extreme examples of this.

Will it work?

I am not sufficiently familiar with the political situation within Iran to be able to say for certain one way or the other.  However, for what it’s worth, my opinion is it will fail.

On the one hand there does seem to be a significant and articulate minority within Iran who do hanker for better relations with the US and the West, and who do seem willing to make the most extreme concessions up to and including the overthrow of the Islamic Republic in order to achieve them.

My overall impression is however that Iran is too complex and sophisticated a society, and its population is too proud and patriotic and too committed to the Islamic Republic, for the policy to succeed.

Ultimately it comes down to a question of how strong support for the Islamic Republic within Iran is.  Donald Trump’s view is that it is not strong at all, and that even mild pressure will cause the Islamic Republic to collapse.  That after all is what he said in remarks he made on 13th October 2017

…..the previous administration lifted…..,sanctions, just before what would have been the total collapse of the Iranian regime, through the deeply controversial 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

(bold italics added)

My view on the contrary is that the Islamic Republic not only enjoys legitimacy within Iran but has the support of a critical mass of Iran’s people, and that it will prove strong enough to resist the latest attempts to destabilise it, just as it has done before.

Already it seems that the immediate effect of the US decision has been to be provoke Iranians into rallying behind their government, and that is likely to continue, at least for a time.

After all the Iranian government is now in a strong position to say that it has done all that it reasonably could to try to mend relations with the US, and that it is not its fault that it has failed.

Besides, despite the sweeping nature of the sanctions, it is debatable whether they will be quite as effective as the US obviously supposes that they will be.

Though the sanctions will almost certainly bring trade and investment by Western companies and businesses in Iran to a stop, there are now numerous companies and businesses in countries like China, Russia and India – all major trading partners of Iran – which trade entirely outside the US dominated dollar system, and which can step in to fill the gap.

Over and beyond this there are the big Russian state owned companies like Rosatom, Rosneft and Rostec, some of which are already affected by sanctions, which might also be willing to trade with Iran, especially if they told to do so by the Russian government.

Rosatom already has a major presence in Iran, and there is already talk of Russia stepping in and selling to Iran the civil aircraft the US and the EU can now no longer supply.

Sanctions of the sort the US is now imposing on Iran would have been utterly crippling had they been imposed by the US on Iran twenty years ago.

Today, with new economic and trading centres emerging in Eurasia and the Far East, they may no longer be quite as effective as they once were, though they will undoubtedly have a significant impact, at least in the short and medium term.

Assuming that the sanctions do not bring about the desired regime change in Iran, what will happen next?

Given that despite denials regime change in Iran is clearly the agenda, and given the existential language the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia now use when they talk about Iran, it is difficult to look to the future without a sense of deep foreboding.

If the Islamic Republic survives the sanctions, and if it continues with its current policies – as in that case it could hardly fail to do – the way the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia talk about Iran makes it difficult to see how they can avoid escalating further by taking military action.

Even The Times of London – unswervingly loyal in its editorials to Donald Trump as it tends to be – appears to recognise the danger, even if it does express it in an upside-down way

The worst case scenario is now that Tehran doubles down. More extreme elements of the regime never liked the agreement anyway, and will be delighted at the opportunity to reinvigorate the nuclear programme. Indeed, one of the great long-term costs of abandoning the 2015 deal is that it will embolden those hardliners and sideline more sober interlocutors. Immediately after Mr Trump spoke, President Rouhani announced that he had ordered the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran to “be ready to start the enrichment of uranium at industrial levels”……

If Washington and Tehran both dig in, however, [Donald Trump’s] decision will herald the return of a volatile country with realistic nuclear ambitions, and put western European countries, including Britain, in a diplomatic bind.

The “diplomatic bind” West European countries like Britain would find themselves in would in reality be the least of it.

If the sanctions fail to bring about regime change the pressure to attack Iran to bring it about will be be all but certain to grow.

Of course if there are signs of Iran resuming its nuclear programme (as there may well be) that pressure will grow exponentially.

A war with Iran – a huge and relatively advanced country of 80 million people – would be a calamity by comparison with which the 2003 invasion of Iraq would look like a sideshow.

That however is the logical outcome of the disastrous course the Trump administration has set the US on.

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New Zealand weapons ban dream move of leftist activists

The American left is sure to pick this up and start screaming for an “assault weapons ban” because this supports their agenda so well.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Reuters reported on Thursday, March 21 that the Prime Minister of New Zealand enacted a sweeping change, banning weapons of the type that were used in the massacre of at least fifty Muslims, who were gunned down on livestream while in Friday prayer services in Christchurch last week. We quote from the Reuters piece below, with added emphasis:

New Zealand will ban military-style semi-automatic and assault rifles under tough new gun laws following the killing of 50 people in its worst mass shooting, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday.

In the immediate aftermath of last Friday’s shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch, Ardern labeled the attack as terrorism and said New Zealand’s gun laws would change.

“On 15 March our history changed forever. Now, our laws will too. We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place,” Ardern told a news conference.

“All semi-automatic weapons used during the terrorist attack on Friday 15 March will be banned.”

Ardern said she expected the new laws to be in place by April 11 and a buy-back scheme costing up to NZ$200 million ($138 million) would be established for banned weapons.

All military style semi-automatics (MSSA) and assault rifles would be banned, along with parts used to convert weapons into MSSAs and all high-capacity magazines.

Australia banned semi-automatic weapons and launched a gun buy-back after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 in which 35 people were killed.

Ardern said that similar to Australia, the law would allow for strictly enforced exemptions for farmers for pest control and animal welfare.

“I strongly believe that the vast majority of legitimate gun owners in New Zealand will understand that these moves are in the national interest, and will take these changes in their stride.”

This is undoubtedly going to be real red meat (or perhaps real vegetables) for the anti-gun lobby in the United States. This is because New Zealand strongly resembled the US in terms of firearm rights and the penetration of numbers of guns in the populace of this remote island nation. Reuters continues, with statements that would probably surprise, even horrify some gun owners in the States, but which are doubtlessly useful for the application of pressure on such individuals:

New Zealand, a country of fewer than 5 million people, has an estimated 1.2-1.5 million firearms, about 13,500 of them MSSA-type weapons.

Most farmers own guns while hunting of deer, pigs and goats is popular. Gun clubs and shooting ranges dot the country.

That has created a powerful lobby that has thwarted previous attempts to tighten gun laws.

Federated Farmers, which represent thousands of farmers, said it supported the new laws.

“This will not be popular among some of our members but … we believe this is the only practicable solution,” a group spokesman, Miles Anderson, said in a statement.

The main opposition National Party, which draws strong support in rural areas, said it also supported the ban.

The changes exclude two general classes of firearms commonly used for hunting, pest control and stock management on farms.

“I have a military style weapon. But to be fair, I don’t really use it, I don’t really need it,” said Noel Womersley, who slaughters cpoliticalattle for small farmers around Christchurch.

“So I’m quite happy to hand mine over.”

To be absolutely fair, the attack on the mosques was an awful event, made the worse by the shooter’s deliberate attempts to politicize various aspects of what he was doing and what he “stood for” as an attack ostensibly against US President Donald Trump, some seven thousand miles away in the United States.

The immediate reaction of the people interviewed, some among them related or friends with the victims of the massacre, was to embrace the weapons reform laws:

Nada Tawfeek, who buried her father-in-law killed in the attacks, Hussein Moustafa, on Thursday, welcomed the ban.

“It’s a great reaction. I think other countries need to learn from her [Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern],” Tawfeek said.

Mohammed Faqih, a member of the Islamic clergy who flew in from California and attended the funerals for some victims on Thursday, said he was “extremely grateful” for the gun ban.

“I wish our leaders in the States would follow on her footsteps and do the same thing,” he said.

One can expect there to be quite the outcry among American liberals about gun control, especially if anything remotely resembling this event takes place or is thwarted in coming days in the US.

It may seem very cold and cruel to focus on the political angle of this story rather than the human tragedy that it is. However, in this situation we have seen signs that the most vile form of human tragedy has actually taken place – the murder of dozens of innocent people for a mere political point. Indeed this thought has been noted and vilified already, as Mr. R.X. Dentith, writing for the New Zealand website Spinoff here quoted:

American paleo-conservative Rush Limbaugh was one of the first to note: “There’s an ongoing theory that the shooter himself may, in fact, be a leftist who writes the manifesto and then goes out and performs the deed purposely to smear his political enemies, knowing he’s going to get shot in the process. You know you just can’t – you can’t immediately discount this. The left is this insane, they are this crazy. And then if that’s exactly what the guy is trying to do then he’s hit a home run, because right there on Fox News: ‘Shooter is an admitted white nationalist who hates immigrants.’”

…[P]eople like Limbaugh… can’t stomach the idea the terrorist action in Otautahi might be motivated by the kind of rhetoric Limbaugh helps disseminate – tend to think there is a culture war going on, and they are on the losing side.

This war has many names, and the enemy is easily identified: it is the battle against Cultural Marxism; the fight against Toxic Feminism; the resistance to Identity Politics; and the fear of the Great Replacement, the thesis at the heart of the terrorist’s own manifesto.

The Great Replacement thesis posits that the majority white European countries are being “invaded” by non-white, non-European peoples. Not just that, but due to declining birth rates in the West, this “invasion” constitutes a wholesale replacement of the white population over time.

Mr. Dentith tries further to knock down this notion of the Great Replacement. However, he misses a much more basic point.

Someone who goes and takes human lives and broadcasts them for any reason is not a mere political operative. The person who does this is a very sick, deranged human being indeed. Evil is certainly appropriately used here.

However, evil is often quite cunning, and despite the intellectual arguments about the reality or non-reality of any particular manifesto statement, in this case, the killer played the media with infernal intelligence, and they took the bait. It is possible that Prime Minister Ardern also took the bait, in this most awful of bad situations, and to give her credit, she took swift actions to try to “correct” what was wrong.

But the problem here was not the type of weapons used. The problem is the fact that they were used by a person who thought these fifty people’s lives were worth nothing more than a bit of policy change. One of the worst examples of human evil in recent times, this incident shouts to the world that there is a problem, but the problem remains unsolved, even though many people will hand over their firearms out of a genuine wish for compassion to those lost and the hope that somehow this action will prevent a future incident.

But the logic of this emotional reaction is nil. And what is worse is that the American Left knows this, but does not care. The movers and shakers of liberalism will likely milk the actions of sincerely horrified New Zealanders for all they are worth to try at affecting change in American constitutional rights.

And the innocent dead will not rest in peace, because the real problem has not even been examined.

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Upstart Populist Party Shocks In Dutch Election Upset, 2 Days After Utrecht Attack

International reports have described the FvD as receiving “a surge of last-minute support” in the days following the Utrecht attack.

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Via Zerohedge…


Dutch voters have sent shock waves through Europe at the polls on Wednesday in the wake of Monday’s deadly Utrecht terror shooting, in which a now detained 37-year old Turkish man went on a terrifying tram killing spree which left three dead and three injured.

Euroskeptic party, Forum for Democracy (FvD), has emerged victorious in key provincial elections this week, paving the way to making it one of the two largest groups in the Dutch Senate, and representing growing Dutch frustration with the recent unprecedented refugee influx in Europe.

Newcomer Forum for Democracy party is led by 36-year-old Thierry Baudet, who is a critic of the EU and of the Netherlands’ immigration policies, via EPA

International reports have described the FvD as receiving “a surge of last-minute support” in the days following the Utrecht attack, which investigators have since described as having a “terror motive” based on a letter found in shooter Gokmen Tanis’ possession.

Forum for Democracy party leader Thierry Baudet had immediately placed ultimate blame  for the incident on the government’s “lax immigration policies” and provocatively stated a day before the elections (referencing his political rival)

If people want more deadly shootings like the one in Utrecht, then they have to vote for the VVD.

Baudet, riding a wave of renewed Euroskeptic sentiment, and whose party also wants to see more military spending, green initiatives, and an easing on income tax while greatly restricting the borders, said in the aftermath of Wednesday’s vote: “The voters in the Netherlands have spread their wings and shown their true power.”

Referencing the Utrecht attack and other deadly terror incidents on European soil, he added: “We have been called to the front because we have to. Because the country needs us.”

Three were killed and several injured in Monday’s Dutch tram terror attack, which raised the country’s emergency threat level to five as it was unfolding, its highest level.

Interestingly, the 36-year old Baudet and his party continued campaigning down to the last moments even as others stopped in the wake of Monday’s attack which rocked the Netherlands. According to Al Jazeera:

Following the lead of US President Donald Trump, Baudet opposes immigration and emphasises “Dutch first” cultural and economic themes. He opposes the euro and thinks the Netherlands should leave the European Union.

Baudet had continued campaigning when other parties stopped after Monday’s attack in Utrecht, in which a gunman shot three people dead on a tram. The populist leader blamed the incident on the government’s lax immigration policies.

The FvD is now set to take 12 seats in the upper house of parliament, which is equal to Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s conservative VVD Party, a scenario before this week considered unlikely according to many observers.

The FvD slightly outscoring the VVD means Rutte’s government has lost its majority for the 75-seat Senate ahead of upcoming May elections.

In a post-election speech on Wednesday, Baudet described further that what’s now being described in international media as “an upstart populist party [that has] shocked the Dutch political establishment” as punishing the arrogance of elites.

In his pro-Western civilization themed remarks, Baudet added, “We are standing in the rubble of what was once the most beautiful civilization in the world.”

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Will The Trump White House finally punish Facebook for censorship?

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 113.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at US President Trump’s tweet where he has said that he would be “looking into” a report that his social media chief, Dan Scavino Jr. has been censored by Facebook.

Are we finally about to see the Trump White House move to punish social media outlets for their blatant and bias censorship of alternative narratives that dare to stray from globalist neo-liberal and radical left ideology?

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“Conservatives face a tough fight as Big Tech’s censorship expands”, authored by Donald Trump Jr., via The Hill…

As Big Tech’s censorship of conservatives becomes ever more flagrant and overt, the old arguments about protecting the sanctity of the modern public square are now invalid. Our right to freely engage in public discourse through speech is under sustained attack, necessitating a vigorous defense against the major social media and internet platforms.

From “shadowbans” on Facebook and Twitter, to demonetization of YouTube videos, to pulled ads for Republican candidates at the critical junctures of election campaigns, the list of violations against the online practices and speech of conservatives is long.

I certainly had my suspicions confirmed when Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, “accidentally” censored a post I made regarding the Jussie Smollett hoax, which consequently led to me hearing from hundreds of my followers about how they’ve been having problems seeing, liking or being able to interact with my posts. Many of them even claimed that they’ve had to repeatedly refollow me, as Instagram keeps unfollowing me on their accounts.

While nothing about Big Tech’s censorship of conservatives truly surprises me anymore, it’s still chilling to see the proof for yourself. If it can happen to me, the son of the president, with millions of followers on social media, just think about how bad it must be for conservatives with smaller followings and those who don’t have the soapbox or media reach to push back when they’re being targeted?

Thanks to a brave Facebook whistleblower who approached James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas, we now know that Mark Zuckerberg’s social media giant developed algorithms to “deboost” certain content, limiting its distribution and appearance in news feeds. As you probably guessed, this stealth censorship was specifically aimed at conservatives.

Facebook appears to have deliberately tailored its algorithm to recognize the syntax and style popular among conservatives in order to “deboost” that content. “Mainstream media,” “SJW” (Social Justice Warrior) and “red pill” — all terms that conservatives often use to express themselves — were listed as red flags, according to the former Facebook insider.

Facebook engineers even cited BlazeTV host Lauren Chen’s video criticizing the social justice movement as an example of the kind of “red pills” that users just aren’t allowed to drop anymore. Mainstream conservative content was strangled in real time, yet fringe leftists such as the Young Turks enjoy free rein on the social media platform.

Despite the occasional brave gesture, politicians have been far too sluggish in recognizing the extent of the problem. But the Republican Party and the conservative movement are becoming more vigilant against the suppression of our speech, as we saw at last weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

Silicon Valley lobbyists have splashed millions of dollars all over the Washington swamp to play on conservatives’ innate faith in the free-market system and respect for private property. Even as Big Tech companies work to exclude us from the town square of the 21st century, they’ve been able to rely on misguided conservatives to carry water for them with irrelevant pedantry about whether the First Amendment applies in cases of social media censorship.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has been making a name for himself as a Republican prepared to stand up to Big Tech malfeasance since his time as Missouri’s attorney general. He delivered a tour de force interview with The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel in front of the CPAC crowd, one that provided a clear-eyed assessment of the ongoing affront to the freedoms of conservative speech and expression.

Hawley demolished the absurd notion that “conservative principles” preclude taking action to ensure free debate online simply because Big Tech firms — the most powerful corporations in the world — are private companies.

Hawley pointed out that Big Tech companies already enjoy “sweetheart deals” under current regulations that make their malfeasance a matter of public concern. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, for instance, allows them to avoid liability for the content that users post to their platforms. To address this problem, Hawley proposed adding a viewpoint neutrality requirement for platforms that benefit from Section 230’s protections, which were originally enacted to protect the internet as “a forum for a true diversity of political discourse.”

“Google and Facebook should not be a law unto themselves,” Hawley declared. “They should not be able to discriminate against conservatives. They should not be able to tell us we need to sit down and shut up!”

It’s high time other conservative politicians started heeding Hawley’s warnings, because the logical endpoint of Big Tech’s free rein is far more troubling than conservative meme warriors losing their Twitter accounts. As we’re already starting to see, what starts with social media censorship can quickly lead to banishment from such fundamental services as transportation, online payments and banking.

Left unchecked, Big Tech and liberal activists could construct a private “social credit” system — not unlike what the communists have nightmarishly implemented in China — that excludes outspoken conservatives from wide swaths of American life simply because their political views differ from those of tech executives.

There is no conservative principle that even remotely suggests we are obligated to adopt a laissez-faire attitude while the richest companies on earth abuse the power we give them to put a thumb on the scale for our political enemies.

If anything, our love of the free market dictates that we must do whatever is necessary to ensure that the free marketplace of ideas remains open to all.

Donald Trump Jr. is executive vice president at The Trump Organization.

 

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