UTT Throwback Thursday: President Should Drop Pakistan as Ally

Understanding the Threat, by John  Guandolo, Sept. 21, 2017:

It is being reported that President Trump is considering dropping Pakistan as a U.S. “ally” due to their obvious support for “terrorism.”

It’s about time.

Pakistanis showing support for Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden

The Quranic Concept of War – written in 1989 by a Brigadier General SK Malik of the Pakistani army with the forward by the Army Chief of Staff/former Pakistani President Zia ul Haq and the Preface by the Advocate General of Pakistan – is doctrine for the Pakistani military.  It makes clear that war against non-muslim forces is obligatory until Islam dominates the world.

After the 9/11 attacks, the Pakistani Intelligence Service (ISI) aided Al Qaeda in moving men and equipment to safer locations anticipating U.S. retaliatory attacks.

Al Qaeda’s leader Osama bin Laden lived in Abbottabad, Pakistan for several years up until the time he was killed in a U.S. raid.

Pakistan used “aid” money provided by the United States government during the Obama Administration to expand its nuclear program.

Pakistani ISI created Lashkar e Taiba, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the U.S. government, which has conducted numerous jihadi attacks including the four-day long Mumbai (India) attack of 2008 which killed over 160 people.

Pakistan has never been a friend to the United States, because it is a driving force in the global jihad.

Pakistan needs to be crushed along with Saudi Arabia and Iran.

State Department Waging “Open War” on White House

Gatestone Institute, by Soeren Kern, 

  • “It’s not clear to me why the Secretary of State wishes to at once usurp the powers of the Congress and then to derail his boss’s rapprochement with the Israeli government.” — Foreign policy operative, quoted in the Washington Free Beacon.
  • Since he was sworn in as Secretary of State on February 1, Rex Tillerson and his advisors at the State Department have made a number of statements and policy decisions that contradict President Trump’s key campaign promises on foreign policy, especially regarding Israel and Iran.
  • “Tillerson was supposed to clean house, but he left half of them in place and he hid the other half in powerful positions all over the building. These are career staffers committed to preventing Trump from reversing what they created.” — Veteran foreign policy analyst, quoted in the Free Beacon.

The U.S. State Department has backed away from a demand that Israel return $75 million in military aid which was allocated to it by the U.S. Congress.

The repayment demand, championed by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, was described as an underhanded attempt by the State Department to derail a campaign pledge by U.S. President Donald J. Trump to improve relations with the Jewish state.

The dispute is the just the latest example of what appears to be a growing power struggle between the State Department and the White House over the future direction of American foreign policy.

The controversy goes back to the Obama administration’s September 2016 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Israel, which pledged $38 billion in military assistance to Jerusalem over the next decade. The MOU expressly prohibits Israel from requesting additional financial aid from Congress.

Congressional leaders, who said the MOU violates the constitutional right of lawmakers to allocate U.S. aid, awarded Israel an additional $75 million in assistance in the final appropriations bill for fiscal year 2017.

Tillerson had argued that Israel should return the $75 million in order to stay within the limits established by the Obama administration. The effort provoked a strong reaction from Congress, which apparently prompted Tillerson to back down.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) “strongly warned the State Department that such action would be unwise and invite unwanted conflict with Israel,” according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Speaking to the Washington Examiner, Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) added:

“As Iran works to surround Israel on every border, and Hezbollah and Hamas rearm, we must work to strengthen our alliance with Israel, not strain it. Congress has the right to allocate money as it deems necessary, and security assistance to Israel is a top priority. Congress is ready to ensure Israel receives the assistance it needs to defend its citizens.”

A veteran congressional advisor told the Free Beacon:

“This is a transparent attempt by career staffers in the State Department to f*ck with the Israelis and derail the efforts of Congressional Republicans and President Trump to rebuild the US-Israel relationship. There’s no reason to push for the Israelis to return the money, unless you’re trying to drive a wedge between Israel and Congress, which is exactly what this is. It won’t work.”

Another foreign policy operative said: “It’s not clear to me why the Secretary of State wishes to at once usurp the powers of the Congress and then to derail his boss’s rapprochement with the Israeli government.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (left) and President Donald J. Trump (right) on February 1, 2017. (Image source: Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

Since he was sworn in as Secretary of State on February 1, Tillerson and his advisors at the State Department have made a number of statements and policy decisions that contradict Trump’s key campaign promises on foreign policy, especially regarding Israel and Iran.

August 10. The State Department hosted representatives of the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), an umbrella group established by the Muslim Brotherhood with the aim of mainstreaming political Islam in the United States. Behind closed doors, they reportedly discussed what they said was Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine and the removal of all Israeli control of the Temple Mount and holy areas of Jerusalem. Observers said the meeting was part of larger effort by anti-Israel organizations to drive a wedge between the Trump administration and Israel. The USCMO includes a number of organizations, including American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), which promote “extreme anti-Israel views” and “anti-Zionist” propaganda, and which support boycotts of the Jewish state.

July 19. The State Department’s new “Country Reports on Terrorism 2016” blamed Israel for Palestinian Arab terrorism against Jews. It attributed Palestinian violence to: “lack of hope in achieving statehood;” “Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank;” “settler violence;” and “the perception that the Israeli government was changing the status quo on the Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount.” The report also characterized Palestinian Authority payments to the families of so-called martyrs as “financial packages to Palestinian security prisoners…to reintegrate them into society.”

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) called on the State Department to hold the PA accountable in State Department Country reports: “The State Department report includes multiple findings that are both inaccurate and harmful to combating Palestinian terrorism…. At the highest level, the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership incites, rewards, and, in some cases, carries out terrorist attacks against innocent Israelis. In order to effectively combat terrorism, it is imperative that the United States accurately characterize its root cause — PA leadership.”

June 14. Tillerson voiced opposition to designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, saying that such a classification would complicate Washington’s relations in the Middle East. During his confirmation hearings on January 11, by contrast, Tillerson lumped the Brotherhood with al-Qaeda when talking about militant threats in the region. He said:

“Eliminating ISIS would be the first step in disrupting the capabilities of other groups and individuals committed to striking our homeland and our allies. The demise of ISIS would also allow us to increase our attention on other agents of radical Islam like al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and certain elements within Iran.”

June 13. During testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tillerson said he had received reassurances from President Mahmoud Abbas that the Palestinian Authority would end the practice of paying a monthly stipend to the families of suicide bombers and other attackers, commonly referred to by Palestinians as martyrs. One day later, Palestinian officials contradicted Tillerson, saying that there are no plans to stop payments to families of Palestinians killed or wounded carrying out attacks against Israelis.

May 22. Tillerson sidestepped questions on whether the Western Wall is part of Israel, while telling reporters aboard Air Force One they were heading to “Tel Aviv, home of Judaism.” Asked directly whether he considers the Western Wall under Israeli sovereignty, Tillerson replied: “The wall is part of Jerusalem.”

May 15. In an interview with Meet the Press, Tillerson appeared publicly to renege on Trump’s campaign promise to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem:

“The president, I think rightly, has taken a very deliberative approach to understanding the issue itself, listening to input from all interested parties in the region, and understanding what such a move, in the context of a peace initiative, what impact would such a move have.”

Tillerson also appeared to equate the State of Israel and the Palestinians:

“As you know, the president has recently expressed his view that he wants to put a lot of effort into seeing if we cannot advance a peace initiative between Israel and Palestine. And so I think in large measure the president is being very careful to understand how such a decision would impact a peace process.”

Critics of this stance have argued that moving the embassy to Jerusalem would, instead, advance the peace process by “shattering the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel.”

March 8. The State Department confirmed that the Obama administration’s $221 million payment to the Palestinian Authority, approved just hours before Trump’s inauguration, had reached its destination. The Trump administration initially had vowed to freeze the payment.

In July 2017, the Free Beacon reported that Tillerson’s State Department was waging an “open political war” with the White House on a range of key issues, including the U.S.-Israel relationship, the Iran portfolio, and other matters:

“The tensions have fueled an outstanding power battle between the West Wing and State Department that has handicapped the administration and resulted in scores of open positions failing to be filled with Trump confidantes. This has allowed former Obama administration appointees still at the State Department to continue running the show and formulating policy, where they have increasingly clashed with the White House’s own agenda.”

A veteran foreign policy analyst interviewed by the Free Beacon laid the blame squarely on Tillerson:

“Foggy Bottom [a metonym for the State Department] is still run by the same people who designed and implemented Obama’s Middle East agenda. Tillerson was supposed to clean house, but he left half of them in place and he hid the other half in powerful positions all over the building. These are career staffers committed to preventing Trump from reversing what they created.”

Notable holdovers from the Obama administration are now driving the State Department’s Iran policy:

Michael Ratney, a top advisor to former Secretary of State John Kerry on Syria policy. Under the Trump administration, Ratney’s role at the State Department has been expanded to include Israel and Palestine issues. Ratney, who was the U.S. Consul in Jerusalem between 2012 and 2015, oversaw $465,000 in U.S. grants to wage a smear to oust Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from office in 2015 parliamentary elections, according to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Ratney admitted to Senate investigators that he deleted emails containing information about the Obama administration’s relationship with the group.

Thomas A. Shannon, Jr., a career foreign service officer who serves as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. Shannon, the State Department’s fourth-ranking official, has warnedthat scrapping the Iran deal would lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. “Any effort to step away from the deal would reopen a Pandora’s box in that region that would be hard to close again,” he said. His statement indicates that Shannon could be expected to lead efforts to resist any attempts to renege or renegotiate the deal; critics of the deal say that Iran’s continued missile testing has given Trump one more reason to tear up his predecessor’s deal with the Islamist regime.

Chris Backemeyer is now the highest-ranking official at the State Department for Iran policy. During the Obama administration, Backemeyer made his career by selling the Iran deal by persuading multinational corporations to do business with Iran as part of an effort to conclude the Iran nuclear deal.

Ratney, Shannon and Backemeyer, along with Tillerson, reportedly prevailed upon Trump twice to recertify the Iran nuclear deal. The Jerusalem Post explained:

Washington was briefly abuzz on the afternoon of July 17 when rumors began to circulate that President Trump was eager to declare that Iran was in breach of the conditions laid out in the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA).

Those receptive antennas were further heightened given the previous signals sent. After all, the State Department already released talking points to reporters on the decision to recertify Iran. The Treasury Department also had a package of fresh sanctions on over a dozen Iranian individuals and entities ready to announce to appease the hawks who were eager to cut loose from the deal.

But Trump didn’t want to recertify Iran, nor did he want to the last time around in April. That evening, a longtime Middle East analyst close to senior White House officials involved in the discussions described the scene to me: “Tillerson essentially told the president, ‘we just aren’t ready with our allies to decertify.’ The president retorted, ‘Isn’t it your job to get our allies ready?’ to which Tillerson said, ‘Sorry sir, we’re just not ready.'” According to this source, Secretary Tillerson pulled the same maneuver when it came to recertification in April by waiting until the last minute before finally admitting the State Department wasn’t ready. On both occasions he simply offered something to the effect of, “We’ll get ’em next time.”

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone InstituteFollow Soeren Kern on Twitter and Facebook

Also see:

When will Congress finally debate our strategy in Middle East?

Whitney Hunter mourns the loss of her husband. Army Sgt. Jonathon Hunter was killed in Afghanistan during an attack on a NATO convoy. | Chris Bergin | AP Images

Conservative Review, by Daniel Horowitz, Sept. 14, 2017:

The only thing worse than not having a strategy in the Middle East is sending our troops into harm’s way indefinitely without a strategy or even an understanding of who we are fighting and who we are supporting. The lack of concrete guidance from Congress has allowed the war on terror to drift and self-immolate.

Over the past few decades, our foreign policy has operated much like our domestic policy — it has been an utter failure. Much like domestic government programs, our foreign policy is completely backward and harms our national interests, but we continue to perpetuate the same policies because of the incumbent powers and special interests in charge.

Moreover, we are called upon to further bail out and treat the endless symptoms of those policies, rather than reviewing the source of the problem. Much like federal intervention in housing, education, and health care, our nation-building in Baghdad and Kabul have become too big to fail, even though the region has changed completely since the original mission.

It is in this vein that Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., offered an amendment to the defense authorization bill (NDAA), in order to inject a much-needed debate over our involvement in the Middle East after 15-16 years of failure. Sen Paul’s amendment would sunset the twin authorizations of military force (AUMF) Congress originally granted the president for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The amendment was defeated 61-36.

Some conservatives might not want to carte blanche remove reauthorization without proposing a new one refocusing our military’s priorities. However, even those who opposed Rand’s tactic or are concerned that he might not be tough enough on the true threats of Iran and North Korea, must agree that the time has come to update the AUMF and finally force a national debate on what we are doing in the Middle East.

The world has changed immensely over the past 15 years — Iraq and Afghanistan in particular

Let’s put the original debate over our investment in those two theaters on the shelf for a moment. The authorization of military force in those two countries was clear: kicking out the Taliban in Afghanistan and removing Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Fifteen years later, we have a muddled mess in Afghanistan and a complete opposite dynamic in Iraq than the one that originally involved our military.

While the 2001 AUMF also tasked the president with destroying the terrorists behind 9/11, between regime changes, changes in terrorist organizations, and multiple civil wars between various groups (all enemies to the U.S. but not all posing equal strategic threats) the entire geo-political structure has changed so much. The time has come to properly articulate on paper what and who we are fighting or supporting, as well as a strategy to place our interests first.

The notion that a 15-year-old AUMF for the removal of Saddam would now suddenly authorize the endless use of the military to prop up an Iranian-puppet government in Baghdad is unconscionable. The Pentagon has no understanding of who we are fighting for, who we are fighting against, how the ground will be held, and why it is in our interests (and not harming our interests).

Afghanistan is no better. Trump recently announced a mini troop surge, but as we noted at the time there is still no clear strategy as to how we put the country together after 16 years of failure with just 4,000 more troops (when 150,000 coalition troops and others have failed for 1,300 years).

If anyone has answers to these questions, now is the time to air them out through a national debate. We have spent several trillion dollars in those two countries only to hand over the Middle East to Iran and waste our time in the mud huts of the Hindu Kush while Iran, Turkey, and Qatar pose greater threats and North Korea can hit U.S. soil with nukes. This debate must not be off limits.

Also of importance is the fact we stand at a crossroads in both theaters. The Taliban controls more territory than ever and the Afghani government is more corrupt (and Islamist) than ever. Ironically, they are already negotiating with the Taliban.

This is no longer about 9/11, and while technically any fight against the Taliban is covered by the 2001 AUMF, shouldn’t Congress have a new debate with so many changes on the ground?

In Iraq, we are now at the point where ISIS (which, for argument’s sake, let’s say is covered by the AUMF against terrorism) is on its last legs. And almost all of the territory vacated by them has been handed over to Iranian proxies on the tab of our military.

So yes, we are following the 2001 AUMF to fight terrorists, but doing so is arguably only benefitting the bigger threat — Iranian hegemony and Hezbollah (which has a vastly greater network in the Western Hemisphere than any other jihadist organization). Iran was certainly more behind 9/11 than Saddam Hussein and also harbored terrorists.

Mattis and McMaster have prevented our soldiers from fighting Iranian proxies and downright view them as allies in the theater, just like Obama did. Thus, we are now fighting in Iraq on behalf of a government that should be an enemy under the first AUMF, in order to fight a new enemy that is on the decline and not included in the 2002 AUMF.

Furthermore, the Kurds may very soon declare independence, but our government is declining to support the only ally in Iraq and is kowtowing to the Iranian puppets in Baghdad. Are we going to continue supporting the Iranian-backed government that is not only an enemy of the U.S. in its own right but whose hegemony over Sunni areas will continue fueling Sunni insurgencies that we will continue refereeing with our military?

Shouldn’t we just support the Kurds and allow them to take as much land as possible while leaving our military out of the Iranian-Sunni fight? I have my views on this issue, but we at least need a robust debate to air out these concerns as we stand at a critical crossroads.

The founders had great wisdom in vesting war powers with Congress

This is not about tying the hands of the commander in chief, this is about empowering him with clarity of mission and the united resolve of the people.

Our founders vested the power to declare war in the hands of the legislature, not only to preempt an imperial presidency but as part of the social contract of consent-based governance — that such an important decision should have the buy-in of the people as expressed through their elected representatives.

In the words of James Madison, they wanted “strict adherence” to the “fundamental doctrine” that the power of “judging the causes of war” (not the actual execution) be “fully and exclusively vested in the legislature.”

A declaration of war, or at least the crafting of an AUMF, allows the entire representative body of the people to raise the important questions about all aspects and strategy of the mission. If Congress votes to pass a resolution, it serves as a definitive guide for what success looks like. This further serves the purpose of rallying the country behind a defined mission, because public support is always needed to achieve such victory.

Yet, we are stuck with a dynamic — much like with failed domestic programs — where the rent-seekers in government and failed military leadership are perpetuating the failing and rudderless status quo.

Clearly, the president himself doesn’t feel comfortable with what we are doing in the Middle East, but nonetheless feels compelled to simply “stay the course” because of the endless threats and arguments regarding “destabilization.”

The American people are left out in the cold while their representatives, and even the president, aren’t controlling the priorities of our military engagements. This is not consent-based governance. This is why it’s so important for the administration to send Congress a new request updating the AUMF.

Some have criticized Sen. Paul for trying to yank the AUMF without a new replacement. Fine, let’s propose one, but propose one we must. In the meantime, pursuant to the War Powers Act, the president can always act swiftly to respond to an immediate short-term threat.

Does this make me a pacifist? Just the opposite. We have certainly laid out a list of priorities and DOs and DON’Ts that should guide a new AUMF.

PJ MEDIA EXCLUSIVE: Gen. McMaster Sparked a Row With the Israeli Delegation at a White House Meeting on Hezbollah

H.R. McMaster (Rex Features via AP Images)

PJ MEDIA, BY DAVID STEINBERG, SEPTEMBER 12, 2017:

During the week of August 27, an Israeli delegation met with members of the National Security Council (NSC) at the White House to discuss the current threat to Israel by the terror group Hezbollah.

Israel believes this threat is currently dire. This meeting preceded a two-week long Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) exercise to rehearse for possible war with Hezbollah. The Jerusalem Post described this exercise, which commenced on September 4 and is ongoing, as the IDF’s largest in 20 years.

Hezbollah has been a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization since 1997. However, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster reportedly brought NSC Senior Director on Counter-Terrorism Mustafa Javed Ali to the White House meeting with Israel. Ali, a McMaster appointee, is described by a senior administration source as being “opposed to Hezbollah’s designation as a terrorist organization.”

What then transpired at the meeting has been confirmed to PJ Media by several administration sources, by members of non-governmental organizations involved in national security, and by a source within the Israeli government.

The Israeli delegation demanded that Mustafa Javed Ali leave the room.

This demand was made despite the clear likelihood that Ali would later be privy to the meeting’s materials and discussion. As such, sources speculated that Israel intended the demand to serve as a message to President Trump that McMaster’s behavior has constituted a subversion of Trump’s stated Middle East policy.

Mustafa Javed Ali, second from right, attending West Point’s 2015 Senior Conference. The conference was described as having focused on “unconventional approaches to counterterrorism.”

None of the several sources were aware if Trump had been made aware of the incident.

As has been widely reported, Trump’s Chief of Staff General Kelly has instituted tight restrictions on information and contacts reaching the president. Additionally, Kelly has been said to be working closely with General McMaster on issues related to the flow of information within the administration.

Friction between General McMaster and the Israeli delegation did not end with Israel’s demand that Ali leave the room.

Sources reported that McMaster went on to explicitly dismiss the Israelis’ specific concerns about Hezbollah.

In particular, the Israelis expressed concern that the “safe zone” currently being established within Syria — an idea that had been vociferously supported by Hezbollah’s sponsor, Iran — would immediately become a safe zone for Hezbollah to operate.

McMaster was said to “blow off” this major Israeli concern, and to be “yelling at the Israelis” during the meeting.

———————————-

For months, General McMaster has been under fire regarding his personnel decisions from Trump voters and the large majority of Americans who support Israel. McMaster has fired or otherwise removed all NSC appointees who strongly supported President Trump’s Middle East campaign platform.

Trump had repeatedly promised that his administration would reject the Bush/Obama policy of denying the doctrinal Islamic roots of terror, most notably expressed by Trump’s willingness to declare jihadist attacks to be “radical Islamic terrorism.” Indeed, Trump honored this pledge early in his term via the many appointees to the NSC brought on by former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and others.

Under McMaster, however, all of these voices have been removed from the NSC in what has been described as a “purge.”

In their stead, McMaster has astonishingly welcomed figures such as Kris Baumanand Robert Malley to his NSC. Bauman’s and Malley’s careers have been so objectively subversive to the Trump agenda on Israel that McMaster might as well have appointed Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter.

Mustafa Javed Ali in attendance at former President Obama’s 2010 White House Iftar Dinner. Ali worked within the FBI at the time. Per a source: “No Muslim reformers or liberals were welcome at those events.” (List of expected attendees available at link.)

Little information has previously been public about McMaster appointee Mustafa Javed Ali. Regarding Israel’s demand that he leave the meeting, a source claimed:

Israel possibly knows more about Javed Ali than [the Trump administration] does.

Earlier this year, Ali was rumored to have caused the cancellation of a scheduled talk to the NSC by Ayaan Hirsi Ali on account of her “Islamophobia.” Mrs. Ali, who escaped to the Netherlands from Kenya after fleeing a forced marriage, violence, and being a victim of female genital mutilation, is now an activist exposing Islamic doctrine. She has lived under 24/7 protection since 2004, when a Muslim murdered Dutch film director Theo van Gogh for making a film with Mrs. Ali that criticized Islam. A five-page note threatening the same fate for Ali was left pinned to van Gogh’s chest with a knife.

Sources within the Trump administration have confirmed to PJMedia that this rumor about Mustafa Javed Ali was correct: Mrs. Ali had been invited to speak to the NSC. She was later disinvited due to Javed Ali’s interference.

On August 11, Mrs. Ali published a Wall Street Journal op-ed criticizing Trump for “losing focus” on his terrorism campaign pledges. Within the op-ed, she chose to mention only the “most charitable” criticism being floated about General McMaster:

Some administration critics have blamed the loss of focus on Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who became White House national security adviser in February. The most charitable formulation of this criticism is that military men who slogged their way through wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have an aversion to the argument that we face an ideological opponent, as opposed to a series of military problems.

But I put the responsibility on Mr. Trump. With regard to radical Islam, he simply seems to have lost interest.

Yet senior administration sources are far less charitable about McMaster and his appointee Mustafa Javed Ali. As mentioned above, they described Ali as taking the breathtaking position that Hezbollah should not be a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization. They described Ali as holding the same view regarding the Muslim Brotherhood.

They claimed Ali’s work within the NSC essentially amounts to him attempting to prevent the Trump administration from using any of the means at its disposal to target Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood as organizations. They claimed Ali advocates only targeting such groups’ identifiably “violent” members, and ignoring all other elements of their activities that may be subversive of U.S. interests.

These are recognizable as Obama-era policies — the “smart set” foreign policy strategies behind the Obama administration’s disastrous “Countering Violent Extremism” programs. This is the thinking that marched the Middle East to bloody catastrophe: a half-million dead in Syria.

Yet General McMaster appointed Ali as NSC Senior Director on Counter-Terrorism, and purged the NSC of voices supporting President Trump’s Mideast agenda. Then McMaster reportedly sat Ali in front of an Israeli delegation visiting the White House to share its concerns about Hezbollah.

——————–

I have previously reported here at PJMedia of an extensive public relations push — coordinated by administration supporters of General McMaster — to encourage conservative outlets and think-tanks to reject claims that McMaster is antagonistic to Trump’s foreign policy and to the State of Israel in general. That push was remarkably successful: an online search for critical McMaster stories from the right will reveal such articles virtually halted in mid-August.

The broader questions of President Trump’s continued silence are more difficult to read. None of the sources contacted for this article believe the president has fundamentally shifted his thinking.

Trump likely understands he would not have defeated Hillary Clinton without stating “radical Islamic terrorism.” Yet sources could offer only speculation as to how Trump intends to win his Middle East agenda while saddled with a National Security Council subversive to those goals.

Are Mattis & McMaster embracing Obama’s do-nothing Iran strategy?

traffic_analyzer | Getty Images

Conservative Review, by Jordan Schachtel, Sept. 12, 2017:

National security adviser H.R. McMaster and Defense Secretary James Mattis are known advocates for the nuclear deal with the terror state of Iran. But many also assumed that they at least sought a departure from the Obama-era strategy of allowing Iran to pursue its regional and global ambitions with full force.

McMaster purged the Iran hawks from his National Security Council. However, this effort was mostly written off as the national security adviser wanting to bring in his own people, rather than a clash of ideologies.

Mattis has publicly stated that Iran is the world’s “biggest state sponsor of terrorism,” leading analysts to infer that as Pentagon chief, he would attempt to quash Iranian efforts to take over half of the Middle East.

Since the election of Donald Trump as president, Iran has doubled down on its anti-U.S. posture.

Iran continues to assert dominance over Iraq. Its own fighters and proxy units have infiltrated much of Syria. Tehran resumed its aggressive funding and arming of Hezbollah and Hamas. In the Gulf, its warships continue to recklessly confront U.S. vessels. And Iran-backed fighters and armed drones are targeting U.S. soldiers on the battlefield.

So what are our respected cabinet officials doing about the increasing Iranian threat? Apparently, they’ve decided to ignore it.

An insightful report from Reuters Monday night specifically names Mattis and McMaster as the cabinet officials who oppose taking a tough stance against Iran’s regional ambitions.

“Mattis and McMaster, as well as the heads of the U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Forces Command, have opposed allowing U.S. commanders in Syria and Iraq to react more forcefully to provocations by the IRGC, Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed Shiite militias,” the Reuters report said. “The advisers are concerned that more permissive rules of engagement would divert U.S. forces from defeating the remnants of Islamic State, they said.”

The Reuters report, however, leaves open the possibility that President Trump may overrule the restrictions recommended by Mattis and McMaster and allow our commanders in the field to target Iran’s proxies and its support for jihadi militias.

By singling out ISIS and ignoring the rest of America’s national security threats, Mattis and McMaster have apparently endorsed the Obama administration’s “balancing act” strategy that gives Tehran unchecked dominance over the land from its borders to the Mediterranean Sea.

Allowing Iran to conquer and hold territory and encroach further to the west puts our allies in Israel and in the Levant and the Gulf on high alert. By only focusing on ISIS, the U.S.-led coalition has shifted the balance of power in Iran’s favor. The “only ISIS” strategy has allowed Iran to station troops right across from Israel’s territory in the Golan Heights.

Defeating ISIS is a noble and worthy endeavor, but doing so without a grand strategy that holds Iran in check is hazardous and detrimental to U.S. national security interests. Iran is hell-bent on not only dominating the region, but also acquiring a nuclear weapon. By opposing action against Iran-backed forces, Mattis and McMaster are tying the hands of our commanders in the field, which was a primary complaint leveled against President Obama’s military strategy, one that President Trump campaigned on reversing.

Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.

Administration Sources: Creepy Tweet Was a Coded Message to General McMaster About Leakers

National security adviser H.R. McMaster speaks during the news briefing at the White House, Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

PJ Media, by David Steinburg, Sept. 6, 2017:

A story fantastically strange, dancing between lowbrow and stupid, and it matters: this masterwork of a news item belongs in a time capsule, one day making the case to our descendants that we were, at least, blessed to live in interesting times.

Because this sort of thing happens in 2017, an alt-right crank who hasn’t won anyone’s trust beyond that of his loyal travelers seems to have become the white-whale obsession of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

Also, a multi-national public relations campaign which occupied much of August — a campaign seemingly intended to repair General McMaster’s reputation with the President of the United States, to sully the reputation of Trump loyalists whom McMaster had removed from the National Security Council, and to drive out Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, all in one shot — may have been unintentionally destroyed by said alt-Right crank tweeting the words …

“Spirit Animal” :

Mike Cernovich posted this tweet on August 11. To an objective observer, that’s inscrutable nonsense. And — also objectively — it’s creepy.

But when considered with its actual context, and pivotally, its timing, that rational observer should be driven to conclude that, ahem, the “McMaster what’s your spirit animal” tweet is a political thunderbolt with ramifications much beyond what Cernovich appears to have intended.

Here goes:

Sources within the Trump Administration claim that the “spirit animal” tweet is a reference to a small meeting that McMaster and select others within the National Security Council held in the days prior to August 11.

At that meeting, attendees reportedly joked about each other’s “spirit animals.” Indeed, as of this writing, I cannot neither confirm nor deny that a prominent member of the NSC is imbued with the soul of a platypus.

Since August 11, Cernovich has offered other information that also points to him having sourcing within the NSC. However, the “spirit animal” tweet reportedly represented a more concerning breach. Yet even so, the breach itself is of less evident concern to McMaster and his supporters than is the fact of its August 11 publication.

Why?

Because if Cernovich still had a source leaking to him on that date or in the days immediately prior, then the tweet necessarily deconstructs much of the past month’s administration-orchestrated media defense of General McMaster’s personnel decisions.

———————–

In early August, General McMaster came under enormous pressure — spearheaded by the Jerusalem Post’s Caroline Glick and the Zionist Organization of America’s Morton Klein — for having seemingly purged the NSC of all members who aligned with candidate Trump’s Mideast policy. “Radical Islamic terror” and the destruction of the Iran nuclear deal was out; the continuance of Obama-era policies behind the “Arab Spring” catastrophe had apparently returned.

Wrote Glick on August 2:

McMaster disagrees and actively undermines Trump’s agenda on just about every salient issue on his agenda. He fires all of Trump’s loyalists and replaces them with Trump’s opponents, like Kris Bauman, an Israel hater and Hamas supporter who McMaster hired to work on the Israel-Palestinian desk.

He allows anti-Israel, pro-Muslim Brotherhood, pro-Iran Obama people like Robert Malley to walk around the NSC and tell people what to do and think. He has left Ben (reporters know nothing about foreign policy and I lied to sell them the Iran deal) Rhodes’ and Valerie Jarrett’s people in place.

And he not only is remaining at his desk. He is given the freedom to fire Trump’s most loyal foreign policy advisers from the National Security Council.

On August 9, Morton Klein released a statement on behalf of the ZOA which included this passage:

The duties of the National Security Council (NSC) include “coordinat[ing] and direct[ing] the activities of the United States Government relating to combating transnational threats.” 50 U.S.C. § 3021(i). It is thus alarming that National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster purged from the NSC those officials who were carrying out President Trump’s policies of combating Iranian and radical Islamist transnational threats, and purged from the NSC those officials who support the U.S.-Israel alliance — an alliance that is vital to America’s ability to combat radical Islamist terrorism.

Instead, General McMaster has appointed officials who are holdovers from the Obama administration, who favor the Iran nuclear deal and are hostile to Israel — officials who are diametrically opposed to President Trump’s policies. Moreover, new revelations demonstrate that General McMaster’s ideology is antagonistic to the President’s policies on these vital issues.

Since then, McMaster and a large contingent of administration and media allies have chosen to defend his behavior primarily as the restoration of Executive Branch decorum and as the necessary removal of “alt-Right” thinkers. These defenses included implications that the purged members had been leaking to the disreputable Mike Cernovich.

With “spirit animal,” however, Cernovich managed the improbable feat of wiping out several weeks of PR crafted by some of the administration’s most powerful figures, because the fact of his tweet’s August 11 publication date establishes the following truth:

On the date of the “spirit animal” meeting, NO ONE with fealty to Trump’s aggressively pro-Israel, anti-Obama/Iran nuclear deal campaign platform — without which, he likely loses to Hillary — remained at the NSC.

Yet Cernovich’s source was still in the room.

So we now have a strong repudiation of the narrative component of the purge which — with the later resignation of Sebastian Gorka (who had long been unwelcome at the NSC) and his public resignation note confirming that such a purge had indeed been afoot — successfully removed every Trump Administration official aligned with Trump’s campaign promises regarding national security.

————

On August 11, I published a story at PJ Media identifying the National Security Council officials whom administration sources claim had been coordinating August’s public relations defense of McMaster. My concern at that time was the apparent dishonesty in how McMaster’s defenders have attacked both his critics and the members of NSC whom McMaster has fired or otherwise helped remove:

Deputy National Security Adviser Rick Waddell, Senior Director for Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Gulf States Joel Rayburn, and Yll Bajraktari, a former special assistant to the deputy secretary of defense during the Obama administration, have been coordinating an extensive public relations campaign in support of embattled National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, according to multiple sources.

Members of the national security community who spoke with PJ Media describe the talking points used during this effort to defend McMaster’s tenure as NSA as “absurd,” “dishonest,” and “comically inaccurate.” But sources primarily expressed anger regarding insinuations that NSC members fired by McMaster or otherwise no longer in their positions — such as K.T. McFarland, Rich Higgins, Adam Lovinger, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, and Derek Harvey — are gone for reasons other than ideology.

Over the past week, several media accounts have painted them as “conspiratorial” members of the “alt-right,” possibly leaking information to the controversial Mike Cernovich, and possibly working in tandem with Russian social media accounts. Such claims, which have been picked up by several outlets, are reportedly doing lasting damage to reputations and careers.

Further, multiple sources believe McMaster and his allies within the administration are using such “career-ending” “swamp” tactics with the knowledge that the fired members and supportive colleagues — due to the nature of their careers within the national security realm — do not necessarily have the option of defending themselves in the public sphere.

Yes, Mike Cernovich does indeed have sourcing within the administration. And apparently he has occasionally released accurate information regarding the workings of the NSC. However, I’m hard-pressed to find anyone who was aware of this situation prior to reading of it in this August 4 piece in The Atlantic. And that should lead our objective observer towards identifying cynical motives behind Cernovich receiving unwarranted attention from McMaster.

In that article, the Atlantic’s Rosie Gray revealed that — among the myriad leaks to various outlets that are assumed to have originated from the NSC, including the Washington Post’s atrocious decision to publish transcripts of President Trump’s phone calls with two foreign statesmen — McMaster had seemingly prioritized plugging the leak to the popular-within-the-alt-Right-but-otherwise-irrelevant Cernovich. Sources could only speculate as to why McMaster has been so concerned with the one voice that could be most simply dispatched as a purveyor of false information. Indeed, Cernovich — recall “Pizzagate”? — has otherwise carried out that mission on his own.

But it’s clear that, as August came, Cernovich was a useful foil for defending McMaster against charges of purging the NSC of conservatives.

Suddenly, America was being told that McMaster had not been systematically removing those who questioned his embrace of the Obama-era policy of discounting the Islamic roots of terror and jihad. Instead, as we were told, McMaster was indeed tough on Iran and Mahmoud Abbas, and had actually been doing Trump’s bidding by removing “alt-Right” liabilities suspected of leaking to a man with the reputation of a conspiracist kook.

Throughout August, elements of this narrative were spread by influential outlets and think tanks, by Sunday morning talk shows, by Senator John McCain, by the U.S. ambassador to Israel, and even by a friendly in the Netanyahu administration.

Perhaps Senator McCain’s contribution most shamelessly embraced the smear tactic. McCain released a statement declaring that the outside pressure to have General McMaster removed from the NSC — which, as all of D.C. knew at the timepresumably including McCain, had been spearheaded by former IDF captain Caroline Glick and Morton Klein, child of Holocaust survivors and president of the Zionist Organization of America — instead arose “from the same purveyors of hatred and ignorance who precipitated the recent violence in Charlottesville.”

Yes — Senator McCain employed shameless expediency to turn “Glick and Klein” into … the Klan.

And until now, that disingenuous campaign had been remarkably successful.

“McMaster is purging the alt-Right leakers” soon became “McMaster can’t work with alt-Right leaker Steve Bannon and alt-Right leaker Sebastian Gorka.” Both are out. Truly, everyone who had been brought on as complementary to Trump’s Mideast campaign promises is now out, as Sebastian Gorka summarized in his public resignation letter.

But Cernovich’s leaker is still there.

—————-

So America is now presented with two options to consider regarding what has transpired throughout 2017 at the NSC under National Security Adviser McMaster:

A. Either McMaster has chosen to restaff the NSC only with people loyal to Mideast policy he has embraced throughout his recent career, even though his policy preferences are in intractable opposition to those of the current Commander-in-Chief; or —

B. Several career intelligence officials of high regard, all of whom shared the distinction of having been selected for duty at the NSC because they were loyalists to Trump’s Mideast platform, somehow became Trump antagonists once McMaster, the real Trump loyalist, was appointed to lead them.

Then some of these officials, concerned about McMaster’s leadership, decided to risk their careers by leaking private, even confidential, information to the media.

Having made this decision, they then considered which outlet was the wisest choice for disseminating their concerns, and lo, they went with … Pizzagate guy.

So August’s narrative needs to end now, and wondrously, it’s all due to a creepy tweet from an apparent conspiracist who may or may not have realized what he was doing. While normal, everyday Americans hopefully get a kick out of that, the media needs to return to demanding McMaster answer everyone’s initial questions:

  1.  Why did you purge the NSC of every official loyal to Trump’s Middle East campaign platform?
  2. Why have you instead placed Obama administration holdovers in key positions?

Iran In First Year Of Trump Administration, Second Year Of Historic Nuclear Deal: Regional Expansion, Religious War With No Political Boundaries, ‘Death To America,’ And Show of Readiness To Confront U.S. Militarily As Supra-Regional Power

MEMRI, By: A. Savyon and Yigal Carmon and U. Kafash, Aug. 28, 2017:

The Great Reversal: The U.S. vs. Iran – From Might And Deterrence To Weakness And Retreat

Within three months, the U.S.’s position in the Middle East has changed from one of might and deterrence against Iran to one of weakness, retreat, and being deterred by Iran. This situation, of course, in no way reflects the real balance of power between the U.S. and Iran, neither generally nor regionally. It is an image created jointly by President Trump’s policies and Iran’s offensive approach.

In the first three months of Trump’s term, Tehran was apprehensive about what his Iran policy would be. It significantly dialed back its provocations – both its verbal threats and its naval forays against U.S. vessels in the Gulf – and even cancelled the launch of a ballistic missile, removing the missile from its launching pad on the eve of Iran’s Revolution Day on February 10, after the Trump administration announced that Iran was being “put on notice.”[1]

Three months later, Iran has changed its approach: It is stepping up its naval provocations; its anti-U.S. discourse is again in evidence – including the “Death to America” chant; and its verbal threats against the U.S. are increasing. Additionally, the same missile which was taken off the launching pad last February was launched on July 27, 2017, in disregard of the U.S.’s warning.[2]

The naïve expectations of President Trump, that, as with a business deal, a positive approach on his part would be met with an equally positive approach, yielded the opposite. Like what happened with President Obama – whose experience President Trump ignored – Iran reacted to the U.S.’s positive policy with more hostility and aggression. The Iranians have interpreted both presidents’ approach as weakness, and stepped up their antagonism to the U.S., including threats and chants of “Death to America.” Moreover, they have used the Trump approach as an opportunity to advance their regional expansion and the ideology of exporting the Islamic Revolution.[3]

It is the approach of the Trump administration – which has agreed to Iran’s regional expansion, under the cover of the war on ISIS – that has prompted this huge shift in the attitude of Iran, which also is relying on Russian backing.

What Happened In Recent Months That Led To This Huge Reversal?

During this time, the Trump administration has changed its approach towards Iran: While the discourse remained confrontational, the actual political moves reflected a clear attempt to advance understandings with Iran, thus continuing President Obama’s policy. National Iranian American Council director and head of the unofficial Iranian lobby in Washington Trita Parsi also noted this, saying: “Prior to the revelation of Trump’s Iran certification meltdown, most analysts and diplomats believed that Trump’s rhetoric on Iran was just that – empty talk. His bark was worse than his bite, as demonstrated when he certified Iran’s compliance back in April and when he renewed sanctions waivers in May. The distance between his rhetoric and actual policy was tangible. Rhetorically, Trump officials described Iran as the root of all problems in the Middle East and as the greatest state sponsor of terror. Trump even suggested he might quit the deal. In action, however, President Trump continued to waive sanctions and admitted that Iran was adhering to the deal. As a result, many concluded that Trump would continue to fulfill the obligations of the deal while sticking to his harsh rhetoric in order to appease domestic opponents of the nuclear deal – as well as Trump’s allies in Saudi Arabia and Israel.”[4]

The Washington Post‘s August 20, 2017 editorial too, while expressing concern that Trump is planning to pull out of the JCPOA, also noted his practical conciliatory moves towards Iran: “Despite much heated rhetoric, the Trump administration is doing little to counter Iranian aggression. In Syria, its strategy of striking deals with Russia has opened the way for Tehran’s forces to establish control over a corridor between Damascus and Baghdad. In Afghanistan, Iran is steadily building a strategic position even as President Trump balks at a plan to strengthen U.S. support for the Afghan government. In Yemen, the United States enables its Persian Gulf allies to pursue an unwinnable proxy war with Tehran whose main result has been the world’s worst humanitarian crisis… Yet perversely, Mr. Trump is matching his passivity toward Iran’s regional meddling with an apparent determination to torpedo the nuclear pact.”

What Were Trump’s Conciliatory Steps Towards Iran?

–   In April and July 2017, the Trump administration sent Congress a letter confirming that Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA. The IAEA reports reflected, and will also in future reflect, the results of inspecting only the nuclear sites that were declared by Iran, and at those sites Iran has apparently complied with the JCPOA. However, the Trump administration totally ignored the fact that the JCPOA does not allow the IAEA to conduct inspections in any other location, including military sites (which in the past were used for secret nuclear military activity), and therefore IAEA certification is meaningless, since it reflects inspection only where Iran allows it. It appears that neither President Trump nor his national security team have read the JCPOA, and that they do not know that the agreement, designed by President Obama, does not allow real inspections in Iran. Indeed, had they been familiar with the limitations imposed by the JCPOA on inspections, they would not have requested that IAEA to conduct inspections in military facilities, as did U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley during her August 23 visit to IAEA headquarters in Vienna. The Trump administration’s silence about the impossibility of real inspection because of the terms of the JCPOA is a clear cover-up for the Obama administration. It should be stressed that had the Trump administration demanded a change in the terms of inspection, such a change would not have constituted a change in the essence of the JCPOA, which is the lifting of the nuclear sanctions on Iran in exchange for Iran’s temporary and targeted suspension of some of its nuclear activities.[5]Therefore, it seems that Trump’s much-celebrated public demand in the media that his national security team bring him, by October 2017, evidence of Iranian violations without any change in the terms of inspections which preclude doing so is nothing but a broadly announced alibi for not demanding a change in the terms of inspection. In October, Trump will have to say that as much as he wanted to act against the JCPOA, his national security team brought him no evidence that would allow him to do so, and that as a result his hands are tied and he must recertify the JCPOA. The intelligence agencies will be blamed, and nothing will be said about President Trump’s failure to demand a change in the ridiculous terms of inspection – which are not even of his own making, but are inherited from Obama.

Moreover, even if Trump’s national security team does provide the president with intelligence information about violations by Iran, the JCPOA imposes a process of verification which precludes practical action against Iran. Trump can, of course, on the basis of such intelligence, act unilaterally, disregarding the JCPOA, the P5+1, and the UN Security Council,  and do whatever he sees fit. But as long as he wants to act according to the agreement and in coordination with the P5+1 and the Security Council, he is obliged to deal with this intelligence as specified in the JCPOA – which makes the intelligence useless.[6]

In response to Ambassador Haley’s visit to the IAEA, several Iranian officials stated that the U.S.’s policy is chaotic, that the Americans are not familiar with the agreement, and that Section 74 of Annex 1 of the JCPOA does not allow the ambassador to demand this of IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano. Hassan Firouzabadi, senior military advisor to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and former Iranian armed forces chief of staff said, on August 27: “The U.S. representative to the UN, Haley, is lying when she claims that the JCPOA allows visits to military sites in Iran, because the JCPOA does not allow this… It is best that America stop inciting [against Iran]. Trump is seeking, with this puppet show, to distract the world from the racist conflicts in America.” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Salehi said, also on August 27: “The framework of the cooperation with the IAEA is set in advance, and cannot be changed. We will not submit to the excessive demands of certain governments, and will not allow foreigners entrance into places defined as forbidden by the JCPOA.”[7]

–  In April 2017, the Trump administration also endorsed the G7 Statement on Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, which states that the G7 countries support the JCPOA as “an important contribution to the [nuclear] non-proliferation regime.”[8]

–  On April 18, 2017, after his highly confrontational anti-Iran speech, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that there would be a comprehensive review, by all branches of the administration, of the U.S.’s Iran policy – for which no official concluding deadline has been given. This review, which would appear to be unnecessary considering how Tillerson depicted Iran in his speech, has in effect stalled Senate bill S.722 – Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017.[9]

–  The administration has refrained from designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) a terror organization, following Iranian pressure.

–  President Trump made a public statement at the May 2017 Riyadh conference that the U.S.’s allies should not expect the U.S. to act for them: “America is prepared to stand with you – in pursuit of shared interests and common security. But the nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them.”[10]

–  President Trump legitimized Iran’s expansion into Syria and in fact all the way to the Mediterranean by accepting the Russia-Turkey agreement, the De-Escalation Zones Plan, in Syria. Illustrating this was the June 2017 statement by the spokesman for the anti-ISIS coalition, Col. Ryan Dillon, who said that the U.S.’s goal is to defeat ISIS wherever it exists. He added that if others, including the Syrian government and its Iranian and Russian allies, want to fight the extremists as well, then “we absolutely have no problem with that.”[11]

–  According to Iranian officials, Iran and the U.S. have exchanged messages about the status of the IRGC in other matters (see MEMRI reports).[12]

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