John Bolton: EMP Threat Is One Reason ‘We’ve Got to Consider the Military Option Against North Korea First’

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Breitbart, by John Hayward, Sept. 7, 2017:

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton joined SiriusXM host Alex Marlow on Thursday’s Breitbart News Daily to talk about the North Korean nuclear missile crisis, the threat of electromagnetic pulse attack, China’s relationship with the United States, and the latest news from the United Nations.

Bolton described North Korea as “a 25 million-person prison camp.”

“While I think the leadership might be willing to ‘eat grass’ before giving up their way of life, if anybody bothered to ask the people, I think you’d get a very different answer,” he said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s comment that North Koreans would rather eat grass than give up their nuclear weapons.

“They are cut off from the rest of the world by the design of their government. Back in the day, when radios were the only way people could learn about the outside world, you could buy a radio in North Korea. It only had one channel on it,” he recalled.

“I think, increasingly, the people of North Korea – we know this from defectors who come out, make their way through China down to Southeast Asia, and then back to South Korea – that they’re increasingly aware that they could have a different kind of life and that the dictatorship of the Kim family really has deprived them of anything like a normal life,” he said.

“This is kind of a laboratory study. You don’t get this around the world. It’s very rare to have a North Korea and a South Korea. I think word has gotten into North Korea that life in South Korea is very different,” he said.

Bolton said China particularly fears the consequences of the Kim regime collapsing.

“Although the dictatorship in North Korea looks very strong, like many authoritarian governments, it’s really kind of like a rotten door frame. If you kick it hard enough, it would come down,” he judged.

“I don’t want to see the United States have to use military force against the North Korean nuclear weapons program any more than anybody else, but I also don’t intend to allow America to be vulnerable to it as far as the eye can see, once they are able to hit any target in the continental United States,” Bolton said of his policy recommendations to resolve the crisis.

“I think we’ve got to go to China,” he advised. “I think you can see, increasingly, the Chinese recognizing North Korea is an ugly piece of baggage. China has got to apply the pressure that they uniquely have.”

“My view is the best thing to do is reunite the peninsula, effectively under South Korea, but I would take as a second-best solution China knocking off the Kim family in and putting in someone else,” he said.

“I think North Korea is much like East Germany: when the Communist rule goes, its life expectancy goes with it. It would be better just to eliminate North Korea entirely by merging it with South Korea. That’s the natural course of history. Failing that, getting rid of the current dictatorship would at least be a step forward,” said Bolton.

Bolton predicted the U.S. was “unlikely to get a meaningful oil sanction against North Korea” from the U.N. Security Council.

“Let’s say they do, just hypothetically. Do you think Iran is going to let North Korea fall?” he asked. “I don’t think that’s going to happen. Iran couldn’t care less about U.N. sanctions. That’s why this fascination with sanctions really is not just ineffective; it’s misleading and dangerous because it gives a lot of people – especially in Congress – the kind of warm and fuzzy feeling that they’re dealing with the North Korean threat, when, in fact, they’re not.”

As for China, widely seen as the key to solving the North Korean problem, Bolton said they are “pursuing a mercantilist trade policy in a free trade organization like the WTO.” He added, “And I think for years we haven’t called them out on it.”

“There’s no doubt they’re in massive violation. We could spend hours talking about it. But the notion that the United States can exert economic pressure on China, to, in turn exert economic pressure on North Korea, I think is doomed to failure,” he anticipated.

“Not that it’s not a worthwhile idea, but imagine this: Let’s say you impose really powerful sanctions on China – not pinprick sanctions, sanctioning Bank X or Bank Y. Let’s just say we’re going to exclude the Chinese banking system from the United States to get their attention. Within minutes of that being announced, the chairman of Goldman Sachs, the chairman of JP Morgan, the chairman of Morgan Stanley, the chairman of Citibank are going to be on the phone to Steve Mnuchin, and probably the president himself,” said Bolton.

“Amazon, Facebook, Google – all these people are saying, ‘You’re taking that market away from us!’ That’s what people have to understand about sanctions. To impose pain – and that’s what we’re talking about, pain – on a big economy like China, you’ve got to be willing to bear some corresponding amount of pain in our economy. America’s business leadership, I am sorry to say, isn’t into pain,” he said.

Bolton viewed China’s latest crackdown on dissent, rife with human rights violations, as evidence that President Xi Jinping “for years, has been planning, with many allies in the Chinese Communist Party, a re-authoritarianization of the government there.”

“Increased political control, increased economic control – it may not be in strict compliance with Marxist ideology, but it’s classic authoritarianism,” he noted. “Westerners have just been goo-goo over Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption efforts, thinking, ‘Oh, how wonderful this is’ – not realizing that since the entire governmental system in China is fundamentally corrupt, this was a way for Xi Jinping to go after his political enemies because you can pick and choose who you’re going to prosecute for corruption.”

“We’ve been pursuing, I think, a very misguided policy on China, strategically and economically, for decades. The human rights piece, honestly, it’s been there that entire time. Look at what China’s doing to Tibet. I’m not overstating this: it’s a kind of cultural genocide. What has the United States said about it in the last 20 or 25 years? Almost nothing,” he observed.

Marlow asked for Bolton’s opinion of the electromagnetic pulse attack threat from North Korea, a permutation of nuclear terrorism about which analysts such as Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, another frequent Breitbart News Radio guest, long warned.

“It absolutely is a threat,” Bolton replied. “A high-altitude nuclear detonation that could bring down a substantial part of the electrical grid of the United States, at least in particular geographic regions, would have a huge impact on us.”

“It’s one of the things people have said, ‘Well, North Korea doesn’t have the range in its missiles, it doesn’t have the thermonuclear capacity, it doesn’t have the reentry vehicle, and it doesn’t have the guidance systems. EMP, you don’t need really precise guidance systems. If you just detonate something, let’s say, over the West Coast of the United States, the EMP effects could be significant,” he explained.

“It ties into the strategic question of what happens if North Korea fires a nuclear weapon at the United States. People have said, ‘Look, North Korea is never going to commit suicide. They would never do that.’ Well, what if the attack is not obliterating Los Angeles? What if it’s an EMP attack, where actual destruction on the ground from the blast itself is minimal, maybe no casualties at all, but the knock-on effects of impairing the electrical grid could be very substantial? What do you do then?” he asked.

Bolton said there was no good answer to that question, which is “why we’ve got to consider the military option against North Korea first.”

“It’s why I wrote about Franklin Roosevelt’s famous statement made in a fireside chat on September the 11th, 1941 – 60 years to the day before our 9/11 – when he said, ‘When you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until it has struck before you crush it,’” Bolton recalled.

“People say, ‘But my goodness, if you use a military option, terrible things will happen on the Korean Peninsula,’” he continued. “And I agree that this is an enormous concern, and we would have to do everything possible to mitigate that. But these same people also say, ‘Well, of course, if North Korea attacked the United States, then we should respond with devastating force,’ which would likely have the same consequences in South Korea.”

“So if you’re with me this far, what is the difference between their position and mine? It’s their insistence that before we strike, there have to be dead Americans. I reject that,” he declared.

Marlow asked Bolton about Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro’s sudden refusal to attend a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council, contrary to previous commitments.

“One of the proudest moments in my government career was in 2006, voting against the creation of the new U.N. Human Rights Council,” Bolton replied. “It was a mistake, and it was a wise decision by President Bush to vote against it. It was a wise decision to stay off the Human Rights Council.”

“We should withdraw from it now,” he advised. “I’m very surprised the Trump administration hasn’t withdrawn. It’s an outfit with no legitimacy. It’s our presence that gives it what little legitimacy it has. We should get off of it.”

“Let me make one other point if I could, coming back to the nuclear stuff: Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of Israel destroying a nuclear reactor being built in Syria,” Bolton observed. “Being built by whom? Being built by North Koreans. Why did the North Koreans build a nuclear reactor in Syria? Was it because of their close cultural and historical relationship? Of course not. It was because somebody, quite likely Iran, was trying to hide their illicit activities where they thought nobody was looking.”

“This is the sort of thing that people don’t like to talk about, the connection between Iran and North Korea, but I believe it’s real, and I believe that Israel – which has twice in its history destroyed nuclear projects in hostile states, that one in Syria and in Iraq in 1981 – has shown that if everything else fails, preemptive military force is required to defend your people from nuclear extortion,” he contended.

“It’s terrible that we may be at the last ditch here and that our options are limited, but if you believe that the fundamental duty of the President of the United States is to protect Americans, that option has to be on the table,” said Bolton.

John Bolton is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and head of his own political action committee, BoltonPAC.

Breitbart News Daily airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Eastern.

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The North Korean Crisis: Immediate Considerations

Real Clear Defense, By Michael J. Del Rosso, Brian Kennedy & Stephen Meyer, August 17, 2017: (H/T John Guandolo)

Whatever respite there may be between North Korea and the United States, make no mistake that the possibilities of a nuclear conflict with North Korea and, by extension, the People’s Republic of China, remain.  As our nation faces this threat, there are very few options to deter this perilous situation. This does not have to be the case. We have an opportunity to remedy long standing vulnerabilities.

Strategic nuclear affairs are poorly understood by the American public and their representatives in Congress. Few know that the condition of our nuclear arsenal is suspect, our missiles defenses are of uncertain effectiveness and coverage, the probability for nuclear deterrence failing is quite high, and our national civil defenses are severely atrophied.

The United States is at this point because members of Congress have relied upon military leaders and defense experts, who over time, seemed driven by political correctness and flawed nuclear deterrence theories. As a matter of policy, the United States has decided to leave the American people vulnerable to missile attack and to rely, instead, on the threat of nuclear retaliation. This policy was continued at the same time both the Russians and Chinese proliferated nuclear weapon and ballistic missile technology to the likes of Iran and North Korea and built or are building their own missile defenses.

Both Democratic and Republican administrations have presided over the systemic national security failure to address the threat of ballistic missile attack that now confronts President Trump. This failure presents an existential threat to the United States that must be immediately addressed.

A factual threat analysis will show that the United States should:

  1. Introduce a robust and more certain, multi-tier, national missile defense capability that includes introducing both Space-Based and Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPV)-based Boost Phase Interceptors (BPI) which can be rapidly developed using existing, mature technologies. Unlike existing ballistic missile defense systems, BPIs are less expensive and have a higher kill probability, targeting missiles in the most vulnerable phases of flight. Why deploy both basing schemes? Because we have committed adversaries who threaten the further existence of the Republic and it is about time America respond proportionately.
  2. Harden our critical infrastructure to the effects of a nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack.
  3. Modernize our nuclear triad for enhance deterrence.
  4. Reintroduce national civil defense down to the community, household, and individual level. This initiative should be instituted immediately no matter what other courses of action are decided upon. It is immoral not to alert the U.S. population of the probability and severity of the risks they face and educate them on how to mitigate that risk. A prepared population adds to our overall deterrence.
  5. Re-evaluate the responsible executive branch agencies’ decision-making processes and methodologies by which risks from threats and hazards are rank-prioritized and recommendations for risk-proportionate mitigation and response activities generated.

The Threat

Russia and the People’s Republic of China both possess large arsenals of intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads. According to defectors, these warheads are currently targeting the major cities of the United States and that of our allies in Europe, Asia, and Israel. The revolution in precision guidance gives these weapons decapitating, first-strike thermonuclear capabilities against our nuclear forces. For more than 20 years both the Russians and the Chinese have been modernizing the lethality of their warheads and expanding their arsenals.

Of concern are nuclear electromagnetic pulse (NEMP) devices that detonate at 100 to 150 km altitude.  Indeed, Kim Jong-un’s threat of final doom is likely based on a single NEMP.  A single NEMP permanently destroys power and communication infrastructures over many hundreds of miles and does not require either re-entry or precision guidance.

We must assume that North Korea possesses NEMP devices.

In 1995 the Russian military think tank that serves the Russian General Staff, known as INOBIS, issued a paper recommending that Russia deliberately proliferate missile and nuclear weapon technology to nations hostile to the United States.  The rationale was that nuclear proliferation would balance growing U.S. power, and thwart Washington’s efforts to establish a New World Order dominated by America.

In 2004 Russian flag officers gave testimony to the U.S. Congressional EMP Commission that super EMP weapon technology in fact “leaked” to North Korea; and it is being developed with help from Russia, China, Pakistan and elsewhere.

In 2013 South Korea’s intelligence agency, the National Intelligence Service (NIS), said in a report to parliament that North Korea was using Russian technology to develop electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons aimed at destroying military electronic equipment south of the border.

We also must assume that North Korea’s Hwasong-14 missile is now capable of attacking the United States with an NEMP device.

Additionally, North Korea has two satellites, KMS 3-2 and KMS 4, which are presently orbiting at an altitude of 300 miles. Their trajectories put them over the continental U.S. daily. Their payloads may be NEMP devices waiting to be used. Erring on the side of caution, consideration should be given to shoot them down preemptively so that the debris field falls upon a benign area of the earth, with WC-135C Constant Phoenix “sniffer” aircraft on the ready to sample the debris paths for radiological indications of the payloads.

The Islamic Republic of Iran, despite the flawed agreement with the Obama administration, continues to pursue the building of nuclear warhead technology.  It is very likely that they already possess a handful of nuclear warheads acquired from Russia, China, North Korea or Pakistan.  The quality and reliability of these warheads are questionable, and their numbers are insufficient for power projection. For this reason, Iran is seeking to build nuclear warheads. It is believed every nuclear test conducted in North Korea has included Iranian scientists.

Iranian nuclear war fighting doctrine scenarios include the use of their Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile launched from a freighter ship. Twice during the 1990s, the Iranians conducted successful tests from a barge in the Caspian Sea where they launched such a missile. In both tests, the warheads exploded in the high atmosphere simulating an electromagnetic pulse attack.

If the Iranians can deploy the right kind of nuclear warhead on such a missile, and if they are able to detonate one over a region of the United States, they could destroy some or all of the electric and electronic infrastructure of the United States.  Such a nuclear explosion in the high atmosphere destroys both critical microelectronics and the large transformers that distribute electric power through the three major electric grids of the United States.

A highly successful EMP attack could result in a sovereignty ending event. A less successful attack could mean the destruction of the U.S. economy. Because the missile was launched from a ship, attribution of the culprit may not be immediately possible.  If an adversary were to launch an EMP weaponized missile from a vessel in the Gulf of Mexico, not only are there no missile defense assets in place to defend against it, we even lack southern-facing radar to detect such a launch.

Finally, the Russians and the Chinese, in addition to their own nuclear ballistic missile arsenals, have spent decades developing their surrogates, Iran and North Korea, into existential, nuclear threats to the United States and the West. They have given them material and technical support and may have even transferred nuclear warheads to them directly.

The purpose of these actors’ nuclear arsenals is to destroy the civilian population of the United States, exert influence over a U.S. President with nuclear blackmail, and check the strategic capabilities of the United States.

Re-introduce Civil Defense

It should be something of a scandal that we have left the people of the United States undefended from a nuclear attack. Even more so because the Russians have their own national missile defense, however crude, it may be, and the Chinese are building their own missile defense as well. Both Russia and China believe that if war comes, they should be able to win. In October 2016, Russia performed a three-day nuclear war training exercise in which 40 million people engaged in civil defense drills. China also maintains extensive public shelters for nuclear war protection.

In contrast, national Civil Defense capabilities no longer exist in the United States. The logic behind abandoning Civil Defense, explained in declassified Presidential Decision Memoranda from the Kennedy administration, might best be described as immoral; politicians thought it would be “destabilizing” for Americans to be stronger and more survivable than the Soviets.  In the early decades of the Cold War, billions of dollars were spent understanding how to mitigate nuclear weapons effects. For the past several months the state of Hawaii has started to reintroduce this knowledge. The rest of the nation should follow suit, immediately, including community, household, and individual resiliency and preparedness. Leadership and informed citizens are primarily all that is needed. Civil Defense is a very cost-effective means of mitigating nuclear weapons effects and saving millions of American lives. It also contributes to America’s overall deterrence.

Read more


Michael Del Rosso is Vice President of the American Strategy Group

Brian T. Kennedy is President of the American Strategy Group

Dr. Stephen C. Meyer is a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute

Stop paying ransom: How to turn the tables on North Korea

Japanese Defense Ministry deploys PAC-3 (Patriot Advanced Capability-3) interceptor system at Camp Kaitaichi in Hiroshimai Prefecture on Aug. 12, 2017| Satoshi Oga | AP Images

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

“Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute

The most sacred job of the federal government – directly protecting the lives of the entire country from an existential threat – is evidently controversial.

The political cartel and the medial would have you believe that every far-flung foreign policy engagement and ill-fated cronyist welfare program is the highest order of the federal government, yet protecting America from a genocidal regime that has  directly threatened us with nuclear weapons is beyond the pale.

On Friday, the AP tweeted the following:

So not only have the media global elites publicly telegraphed the message to North Korea that the U.S. may never respond with force, the U.S. could take missile defense off the table.

What’s truly astounding is that we are sending troops to referee Islamic civil wars that have no strategic interest to us in countries that cannot touch us with a Navy, Air Force, or ICBMs … and the media doesn’t give a hoot. God knows what we are doing in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, aside from supporting one terror faction in one theater that we are fighting in the next (Shia militias in Iraq and Syria, for example), but nobody blinks an eye.

We have expended trillions of dollars, thousands of lives, and the national resolve and appetite for war on aimless civil wars rather than addressing the core threat to our homeland, which is immigration, Muslim Brotherhood subversion, etc. Now, there is no appetite left to use our military when it is actually needed.

Maybe I was too naive, but I thought once it became clear North Korea had the capability to miniaturize nuclear warheads to be placed on long-range missiles (a reality that was covered up during Obama’s tenure), politics would end and national resolve would unite behind an effort to defend America at all costs. Yet, it’s become clear that will never happen.

Even if one (wrongly) believes there is no military solution, why in the world would we telegraph such weakness to the enemy and do so with such conviction? Every news headline blowing up my iPhone alerts is full of such servile sayings as “The rush to avoid a catastrophic war,” “How North Korea can win.”

What exactly is their solution other than continuing the same obsequious ransom payments that led to North Korea’s acquisition of nuclear weapons in the first place and replicate the same failed model in Iran? Indeed, the only military option the government willing to put on the table is sex-change operations and hormone therapy. Take that, Kim Jong Un!

In reality, there is a lot we can do, and it begins by actually recognizing our strengths and understanding the vulnerabilities of North Korea and China. It also begins by not self-immolating and telegraphing weakness that incentivizes more bad behavior from North Korea and troublemaking by China.

Change of posture: This is actually one area where Trump’s tweets are very helpful. The reason we got to this juncture is because of 24 years of weakness in which three administrations took military options off the table or even the use of aggressive soft power. We paid them off and refused to hold them accountable.

Thus, with no fear of reprisal, China and North Korea could continue to extort us. By emphatically showing that we will do what it takes to defend our interests and that regime change is a real possibility, China will come to the bargaining table.

The Chinese are terrified of a military option because they don’t want the refugee crisis on their hands. Thus, those who publicly despair of military and soft-power options and extol the virtues of diplomacy are ensuring there is no diplomacy. The military option, or the perception of it, is the only thing that will force diplomacy. Peace through strength.

Missile defense: Learning a lesson from Reagan’s success, the best offense is also a good defense – by showing Kim Jong Un that we can shoot down his missiles. The ballistic missile defense program has already been a success with THAAD and needs a little more development.  The president should demand an immediate increase in funding of advanced missile defense in the upcoming budget bill.

There’s no reason we should continue spending so much money on Middle East sink holes, fighting for and arming the Lebanese army (an arm of Hezbollah), the Syrian rebels, and Shia militias in Iraq. All those funds should be redirected for missile defense. The success of this program makes the military option extremely viable.

Further, coupled with beefed up missile defense, all available nuclear assets should be deployed to the aircraft carriers, fighter jets, and submarines around Guam and closer to the Korean Peninsula.

Shoot down North Korea’s test missiles: Yes, the next time Kim plays with his toys and tests a missile, we should shoot it down. THAAD has successfullyintercepted missiles in all 15 tests conducted by the military. We should place more of these installations around South Korea and Japan, in addition to beefing up the naval presence.

End the Iran deal: Iran and North Korea are two peas in a pod. Ending the Iran deal and putting the screws to the Islamic Republic hurts North Korea. If nothing else, learning the lesson of the failed appeasement of North Korea should push Trump off the fence on Iran so we don’t repeat the same mistakes.

As my friend George Rasley explained in detail, we can assume that whatever North Korea has, Iran will obtain because they are working together. Except, given that Iran is governed by an Islamic ideology, there is even less of a deterrent against their suicidal tendencies than North Korea.

To look at the outcome of the North Korean appeasement and not change course immediately in Iran is an exercise in self-immolation.

Ask Congress for Authorization of Use of Force (AUMF): “Locked and loaded” is exactly the strategy we need. Congress has been debating and AUMF over the Middle East for months. North Korea, on the other hand, had directly threatened our country, and yet we’ve never signaled any support for a military option.

Were Congress to preemptively authorize use of force when the president feels it necessary to use, it would send such a strong signal that in itself would be the only avenue to force the diplomatic solution the Left claims to support.

Remember, unlike the Iranians who believe they will enjoy 72 virgins in the next world, the North Korean leaders don’t believe in an afterlife. They are enjoying their virgins and Chivas Regal here on Earth and are not in a rush to end it. It’s very likely that by signaling our intent to impel regime change, Kim Jong Un’s military leadership will begin unraveling.

This is why it’s so irresponsible for Secretaries Mattis and Tillerson to so emphatically and publicly reject regime change.

Hold China accountable: North Korea is essentially a client-state of China and gets much of their economic lifeline from the communist regime. In order to get tough on North Korea, we must end the decades-long appeasement of China, which is a strategic threat to us in their own right. We must double down on our alliance and arm’s deals with Taiwan and challenge China’s aggression in the South China Sea.

Also, just the mere threat to arm Japan is the biggest leverage imaginable. The memory of the Nanking Massacre at the hands of the Japanese is still consuming China with fear and rage. Time to play hardball.

Freeze the regime’s global assets and investments: In addition to putting real pressure on China, freezing other foreign investments will inhibit North Korea’s ability to build its nuclear and ballistic capabilities.

As noted North Korea expert Bruce Bechtol advises, “The United States must use its resources, personnel, and willing allies to squeeze North Korea’s Mafia-like illicit financial networks in places like Singapore, Malaysia, Africa and yes, China. This would, put strong pressure on the lifeline for North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction programs.”

Say no to further involvement in Islamic civil wars: Our involvement in endless Islamic civil wars (while bringing the actual problem to our shores through immigration and empowerment of the Muslim Brotherhood) has depleted our military, our budget, and our national resolve to confront real threats.

The North Korea crisis should strengthen the president’s resolve against further involvement in full blown nation-building in the Middle East so that our military can be preserved for true conventional warfare that, unlike the Islamic civil wars, directly threatens our territories and homeland.

The fight against jihad should mainly be dealt with through shutting down immigration, ending Muslim Brotherhood subversion, using soft power against Qatar and Turkey and other funders of global terror, and reversing course on Iran. Let’s counter terrorism with counter-terrorism measures; counter state threats with the military.

John McCain’s call for doubling down on Afghanistan should be rejected; it makes no sense to bog down our military in these quagmires now that North Korea poses the greatest conventional and nuclear threat. Also, our endless entanglement in the Middle East is partly what emboldens China and North Korea, because they know it has sapped our military and national resolve to deal with the Pacific theater.

The question for President Trump boils down to one principle: Will we continue the strategy of appeasement and ransom-paying that has gotten us to this position, or will we turn the tables and assert our own leverage using every option on the table? The choice is his so long as he assembles a Cabinet that actually shares his worldview.

Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.

Also see:

What the Crisis Means: North Korea, Nukes and Islamists

A North Korean military parade (Photo: Stefan Krasowski/Flickr)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, Aug.  9, 2017:

North Korea is officially a communist, Stalinist dictatorship, but that hasn’t stopped it from crossing the ideological divide to embrace Islamist regimes and, reportedly, even jihadist groups. The latest crisis between North Korea and the U.S. appears separate from the war with Islamism, but there are 10 ways it overlaps.

The U.S. and allied intelligence services now believe North Korea has miniaturized its nuclear warheads to fit onto its intercontinental ballistic missiles and has the potentially up to 60 nuclear weapons.

This was seen as an undeclared “red line” and prompted President Trump to threaten to bring “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if North Korea’s verbal threats continue; a benchmark North Korea immediately crossed by announcing it was considering a nuclear strike on the U.S. territory of Guam, where 6,000 U.S. troops are stationed. Another 28,000 U.S. troops are in South Korea and 49,000 in Japan.

North Korea threatened to attack Guam in 2013 and its bombastic rhetoric is practically a daily occurrence, but North Korea’s aggressive attacks have increased in recent years including sinking a South Korean ship in 2010, an artillery barrage on a South Korean island that same year, a cyber attack on Sony Pictures in 2014 and a bold assassination of a political rival in a Malaysian airport using the VX biological weapon earlier this year.

 

  • The Iranian and North Korean WMD programs should be seen as a single entity.We must now assume that Iran likewise has the ability to miniaturize nuclear warheads onto ICBMs.Iran and North Korea have shared virtually everything when it comes to ballistic missile and nuclear technology. One Iranian opposition group claimed that Iran continued its nuclear program in spite of the nuclear deal by simply outsourcing it to North Korea. The nuclear and missile tests are widely seen as being on done on behalf of Iran with Iranian scientists on the scene for their occurrences.Both North Korea and Iran helped the Syrian regime pursue nuclear weapons, resulting in the Israeli airstrike on Bashar Assad’s nuclear reactor in 2007. Various reports indicate that Syria’s nuclear program continued thereafter, albeit on a smaller scale.
  • North Korea’s Links to Hamas, Hezbollah and reportedly Al-Qaeda-tied terrorists in the Philippines.In 2003, the government of the Philippines said that it captured documents showing that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, an Islamist group that has had a relationship with Al-Qaeda in the past, paid $2 million to North Korea for guns, ammunition and grenades and was looking to buy mini-submarines. Another sale was reported in 2005 of 10,000 rifles.In 2006, a federal judge ruled that North Korea is liable for damages caused to American-Israeli citizens due to its material support for Hezbollah. Iran sponsored North Korean assistance to help the terrorist group by providing rockets and missiles and guidance on building its sophisticated network of tunnels and bunkers. It said that Hezbollah terrorists have been traveling to North Korea for advanced training since the late 1980s.In 2009, the UAE intercepted over 2,000 detonators for Hamas’ 122mm Grad rockets and associated equipment. Later that year, Israel intercepted 35 tons of rockets, RPGs, shoulder-fired missiles and equipment for surface-to-air missiles from North Korea to Iran for delivery to the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups in Thailand.In 2014, it was reported that Hamas was negotiating an arms deal with North Korea worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for missiles and communications equipment and a down payment had already been made. It is strongly suspected that North Korea helped Hamas build its sophisticated tunnel system that was used to attack Israeli civilians and wage war in 2014 against the Israeli military.The Hamas terrorist group openly thanked North Korea for its political support against Israel this year. The North Korean regime (DPRK) pledged to “mercilessly punish” Israel for its leaders’ accurate description of the ruling leader as a “crazy.” The DPRK said it “fully supports” the Palestinian jihad to have an independent country and to seize Jerusalem, a vague statement that seems to imply material support.We should expect such sales to increase as sanctions force the North Korean regime to look for more revenue, as well as ways to retaliate against the U.S. and its allies. The North Korean regime has no problem selling arms to Islamists and is not a target of the jihadists, so we shouldn’t be surprised if North Korea goes so far as to directly sell weapons and expertise to groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda.
  • North Korea has threatened to sell nuclear weapons to other countries and even international terrorist groups. It now has up to 60 nuclear weapons, a number that could grow to 100 by 2020.In 2005, North Korea threatened to sell its nuclear weapons to terrorist groups “if driven into a corner.”North Korea has a surplus of nuclear weapons. It can afford to sell off a few if it feels confident that U.S. intelligence will be unable to identify and intercept the shipment; a fair assumption given our recent underestimations of their capabilities.Past customers for Iranian missiles and arms include Iran and its puppet Assad regime in Syria; Yemen, which is now working with Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood; Pakistan; Eritrea, which has supported Al-Qaeda’s branch in Somalia; the Somali government; Cuba and possibly Venezuela.  There are suspicions that Turkey is looking to build nuclear weapons, as an imam close to President Erdogan is encouraging this.
  • Joint cyber warfare programs with Iran.Both Iran and North Korea have launched cyber attacks on the U.S. and its allies with minimal consequences. There is strong evidence that the two rogue states’ programs are interconnected and they are even launching joint cyber attacks together.
  • Radical Islam will seep into an unstable North Korea.As soon as a closed society begins opening up, the promoters of Islamism get to work. A relevant example is how Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are in a mad dash to lead the Muslim community in Cuba.In 2010, Pew estimated there are 3,000 Muslims in North Korea, a 300% increase from 1990. It projects that number will stay about the same until at least 2030, but that is doubtful as globalization inevitably penetrates North Korea and exposes more citizens to Islam.The most jihad-prone forms of Islam in North Korea are already leading the way. In 2013, North Korea allowed Iran to build the country’s first mosque, located at the Iranian embassy.The extreme anti-Americanism and anti-democracy thought that is instilled in the population means this Muslim population will probably be inclined towards radicalism.
  • Regime instability will be a gold mine for terrorists, criminals and rogue states.The regime is bound to become more unstable over time and that could increase as international tension rises and the U.S. potentially tries to undermine Kim Jong-Un. North Korea is armed to the teeth with deadly expertise, conventional weapons and WMDs, all of which will be sold off by their hungry protectors or abandoned in the event of extreme upheaval.All kinds of black market criminals, terrorists and governments will be trying to snatch up whatever they can. For Islamists, they will look to the Muslim population for logistical support. Iranian operatives are already in the country, as may be Hezbollah terrorists.ISIS is on the rise in the Philippines, the Islamic terror threat is increasing in South Korea and it’s only a matter of time before China’s Muslim-majority Xinjiang Province becomes a jihadist front. North Korea is isolated now, but don’t assume that Islamists won’t be able to enter the country and make contact with its black market as the regime becomes unstable.
  • Reported plans for a two-front war by Iran, Syria and North Korea.There have been intelligence reports since the early 1990s indicating that Iran, Syria and North Korea had a deal to force the U.S. into a two-front war if any one of them came into military conflict with America. Since then, these countries have only grown stronger, we have grown weaker, and their friendships have grown tighter.Of course, we do not know if such an agreement exists today and we also do not know if they are loyal enough to honor it if it exists. However, the reported historical precedent must be taken into account and it is certain that Iran, Syria and North Korea will at least take limited measures to assist each other in the event of military conflict. And if Iran and North Korea have aspirations to commit aggression, there’s no better time to act than when the U.S. is preoccupied on another front.
  • Bogging down the U.S.If the situation escalates, then the U.S. military—already suffering from the sequestration—will be hard pressed for resources to maintain its operations against ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, not to mention more limited efforts in places like Yemen, Libya and the Philippines.
  • North Korean Terrorists Could Target U.S. SoilIt is not out of the realm of possibility that North Korea will try to launch saboteur/terrorist attacks on American soil, particularly against those seeking to undermine Kim Jong-Un.Earlier this year, Kim Jong-Un used two assassins to murder a political rival using the VX biological weapon in a Malaysian airport. Think about how much of an escalation that is: A biological terrorist attack inside an airport in a foreign country. That means North Korea has loyal operatives who can sneak such deadly substances into other countries and are willing to risk their lives to commit murder on Kim Jong-Un’s behalf.And the target was another North Korean from the top of society. Such operatives would have even less qualms about targeting Americans.North Korea could collaborate with Islamist terrorists or criminal elements for an attack in America. After all, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps hoped to hide behind Mexican drug cartel members in its plan to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington D.C. by blowing up a diner.
  • The Worst of All Scenarios: EMP Watch this Clarion Project short film from 2012 about the threat posed by a potential Electro-Magnetic Pulse attack by Iran. North Korea has the same capability. A top expert on nuclear weapons and EMPs, Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, has been sounding the alarm that he believes North Korea is actually practicing carrying out such an attack on the U.S.Should that happen and the attack succeed, North Korea will cripple the U.S. and perhaps win its war against America. And even if the U.S. destroyed North Korea in response, the jihadists will have won their war against America as the country struggles to survive as Islamists rampage across the planet.

Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s Shillman Fellow and national security analyst and an adjunct professor of counter-terrorism. He is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio.

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North Korea discussion begins at 2:22 in video:

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Fred Fleitz:

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Also see:

Threat to Homeland High – Negotiation Not the Solution

Understanding the Threat, by John Guandolo, July 24, 2017:

Famed terrorist Carlos the Jackal said:  “Only a coalition of Marxists and Islamists can destroy the United States.”

In September 2015, UTT published a brief article entitled The Convergence of Threats which illuminates the marriage between the U.S. Islamic Movement and the hard-left Marxists.  Today, this marriage moves ever closer to is objective of overthrowing the U.S. government.

In a time when the Republic is in such grave danger from external (China, North Korea) and internal threats (Jihadists, Marxists, Progressives, Communists), and because the threats have massed and are launching unending assaults in our courts, our schools, our political system, and our communities – both violent and non-violent – the response cannot be gradual and it cannot be measured.

The strongest action possible must be taken against revolutionaries inside our nation, be they Antifa, Black Lives Matter, Industrial Areas Foundation, Communist Party USA, Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas, or any others.  All nations working to undermine the United States, like China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Qatar, North Korea, Venezuela, and others must be dealt with harshly and swiftly.

We are at war for the integrity of our nation, and nothing should cause us to hesitate or falter.

During World War II, German spies/saboteurs arrived on American soil in 1944 with orders to destroy critical U.S. infrastructure.  Fearing capture, two of the spies turned themselves in and ratted out the other 6 who were captured at the end of June of the same year.  President Roosevelt ordered a military tribunal, and on August 8, approximately five weeks later, all six were executed.

While the Manhattan Project was in full operation creating the atomic bombs that would be dropped on Japan and end World War II, spies penetrated secret U.S. laboratories and were stealing secrets about the project.  Brigadier General Paul Tibbets (USAF, retired) who piloted the Enola Gay, which delivered the first atomic bomb in Hiroshima, Japan, spoke in November 2000 about his experiences.  Tibbets detailed how the United States handled at least two spies during wartime.  He told a story, directly related to him by one of the men involved, about a meeting between a traitor/spy and his handler in Chicago.  U.S. government officials witnessing the meeting shot them dead in the streets of Chicago and left them there. See Tibbets video HERE (43:55-45:50).

Today, Secret/Top Secret information is being leaked to the media for political gain, gravely damaging the security of the United States.  Government officials and elected representatives in both political parties at the federal level are protecting, aiding and abetting, and providing material support to enemies of the United States, including Hamas and Al Qaeda terrorists in suits, as well as leaders of hostile nation states like Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Members of the media are providing material support to these same terrorists by allowing terrorists to use their networks as platforms for propaganda and for destroying the reputations and lives of people who are working to fight against this threat, uphold the law, and honor their Oaths of Office.

Judges are using their benches to assault the integrity of our nation’s laws while ignoring their duty to the Constitution and the ideals found in the Declaration of Independence.

Local officials, including mayors, city council members, school board officials, some law enforcement leaders, university presidents and officials, and others are regularly surrendering our founding principles and our security to hard-left Marxists and jihadis just for the sake of avoiding conflict and controversy.

Our universities have, to a great extent, become places of indoctrination and not education, which is an intentional means to achieve our enemies objectives.

Understanding the threat is always the first step, but Americans must also understand these hostile movements at a much deeper level.  Every action taken by these movements – even if the action itself is legal – serves to aid these Movements’ overall goal of overthrowing the U.S. government.  This makes these actions unlawful under Title 18 US Code Chapter 115 as they act to aid in conspiracies to overthrow the government.  This includes Advocating Overthrow of Government, Seditious Conspiracy, Misprision of Treason, Treason, and others.

Yet, the federal government is catastrophically broken and is not currently able to deal with the threats bearing down on us.  This is why it is imperative for all Patriots to understand this war will be won – or lost – at the local level in their community.  Sheriffs and Pastors are key, but active citizens will win the day.

If you live in a community which is surrendering to the Islamic Movement and the hard-left Marxists, UTT suggests you move to a community that has a desire to live and thrive as a free people.

There is a war going on and every able-bodied Patriot is needed.  County by county, state by state.

By the grace of God and the help of a few Marines, America can be liberated.

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Dom Raso warns that there is an organized anarchy occurring in America led by people who hate our president and who hate those who support him. With obstructionist politicians putting American security at risk in exchange for a cheering crowd and a photo opp, the media spewing false information and celebrities giving speeches about oppression, it’s time to cut the crap, Raso says. We’re at war with a growing evil culture that wants you dead.

Watch more episodes of Commentators on NRATV: https://www.nratv.com/series/commenta…

Dom Raso warns that the threat of radical Islamic terror is not going away. He urges Americans to get the training necessary to make our homes, neighborhoods and communities the worst places on earth to try to kill innocent people. The Second Amendment was written for times like these, says Dom, and it’s exactly what the founders intended.

John Bolton: Trump Administration Needs to Declare Muslim Brotherhood, Iranian Guard as Terrorist Groups

KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/Getty Images

Breitbart, by John Hayward, July 12, 2017:

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton talked on Wednesday’sBreitbart News Daily with Sirius XM host Alex Marlow about victory in Mosul, strategy for a post-Islamic State Middle East, the diplomatic crisis in Qatar, and the North Korean nuclear problem.

“I don’t think it’s quite over in Mosul, but I don’t think there’s any doubt that ISIS is ultimately going to be defeated there, and ultimately, it will be defeated elsewhere in Syria and Iraq,” Bolton said.

“Remember, this is the signal battle. Over two-and-a-half years ago when ISIS burst out of Syria, burst out of nowhere, the Iraqi Army confronted them before Mosul and collapsed completely, just disintegrated,” he recalled. “This is the army that Obama and the Bush administration had been arming and training for years, and they just completely collapsed.”

Although victory in Mosul is an important milestone in the improvement of the Iraqi military, Bolton feared it is “a hollow victory for the United States.”

“Obviously, we want to destroy ISIS. Obama’s slow-roll policy allowed them to continue to recruit terrorists far longer than was necessary and allowed many of the top leaders, I think, to get out of the Middle East, to go somewhere else – to go to Libya, to go to Yemen, and to live to fight another day,” he explained. “But I think the worst part of it – and this will be even more manifest when Raqqa, the capital of the so-called ISIS caliphate, is taken hopefully in the near future – we have not prepared for the strategic situation after ISIS is defeated.”

“Or I could put it a different way and say Obama did prepare for it, and he was happy to have Iran and its surrogates fill the vacuum that ISIS is going to leave,” Bolton added. “That’s what is happening in Mosul now. The Iraqi government is, to all intents and purposes, under the control of the ayatollahs in Tehran. Not entirely, but I’d liken the situation to Eastern Europe in the late 1940s as the Soviet Union tightened its grip on the countries that were soon to become satellites. That’s what Iran is doing to Iraq.”

“What Iran’s objective is, when we collapse ISIS at the last stages, it wants to link up from Iran, through the Baghdad government in Iraq, to the Assad regime’s regular forces in Syria and the Hezbollah terrorists who are there in Lebanon,” Bolton warned. “There are press reports already that some Shiite militias from Iraq have already linked up with Assad’s forces.”

“The Iranians are trying to create an arc of control that lays the foundation for the next struggle in the Middle East, against the Sunni coalition led by the Saudis,” he said. “Barack Obama was entirely comfortable with that. I think that’s consistent with his view that, you know, Iran’s really basically a normal kind of nation, we’ll just talk them out of their nuclear weapons and then everything will be fine.”

“That’s not how the ayatollahs and the Revolutionary Guards Corps see it,” Bolton argued. “Now there are even stories in places like the Washington Post and the New York Times saying we could have some trouble here in Mosul and Western Iraq because of what I’ve just described.”

“I wish I could say the Trump administration had a strategy to deal with it,” he sighed. “I think the president’s probably in the right place on this, but I don’t think his bureaucracy has produced that kind of strategy yet. In the kind of strategic vacuum that may be developing, I think we’re going to have trouble in the not-too-distant future.”

Bolton said the “complex multi-party conflict” in the Middle East leaves the United States with “several objectives which are not always entirely consistent with one another.”

“The only good news is our adversaries have inconsistent objectives too,” he added.

“Our first objective – and what we’ve been pursuing in a far too relaxed pace under Obama; it speeded up under Trump – is to defeat and destroy the ISIS caliphate. It doesn’t end the ISIS problem, but it takes their territorial base away from them and forces them to go to places that are a lot less hospitable, like Libya, and gives us a chance to pursue them elsewhere,” he said.

“But then the question is, ‘What do you do with the vacuum, the political vacuum that exists once ISIS is defeated?’” Bolton asked. “The Sunni Arabs do not want to go under the control of the Baghdad government, for the reason I just said: it’s dominated by the ayatollahs. Nor do the Sunni Arabs of Syria want to happily resume being oppressed by the Assad regime, with both Assad and Iran obviously being backed by Russia. So you need a solution to the Sunni problem there in that hole that used to be the ISIS caliphate. We do not have a strategy.”

“I propose creating a new state, a secular but demographically Sunni state that the Saudis could help pay for, to provide some measure of stability and to prevent Iran from achieving that arc of control that I mentioned a few moments ago,” Bolton recommended.

“Really, this is part of the bigger picture of how we deal with Iran, which is continuing to pursue nuclear weapons along with its friends in North Korea and continuing to support terrorism around the world,” he explained. “That struggle with Iran is something that was just absent from the radar screen in the Obama administration, but it’s going to come to the fore again once ISIS is defeated.”

“We’ve got to be thinking ahead,” he urged. “It’s not enough to kind of wake up every day and say, ‘Well, gee, what problem do we have now?’ You have to have a strategy, and the strategy I think is critical is defeating radical Islamic terrorism and dealing with the threat of the world’s principal state sponsor of terrorism, which is Iran.”

Marlow asked Bolton how the diplomatic conflict between Qatar and the other Sunni nations fits into the Middle Eastern puzzle.

“Across the Gulf, the oil-producing monarchies of the Arabian peninsula, there’s a lot of financial support for terrorism,” Bolton replied. “Some of it comes directly from governments. Some of it comes from royal families, which is in many senses the same thing. Some of it comes from other wealthy people; the government gives them a wink and a nod and away they go. It comes from a lot of places.”

“The Saudis have picked on Qatar in particular because of its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, but I think also they’re worried about Qatar’s tilt toward Iran,” he continued. “They want a united Sunni Arab community here, in preparation for the coming conflict. Qatar’s response is, ‘Well, what are you picking on us for? Because of the Muslim Brotherhood? The United States hasn’t declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, and neither have we, so why are we any different from you?’”

“It’s not entirely accurate, the way they put it, but they’ve raised a fair point,” Bolton conceded. “My reaction is, ‘Great, let’s take this opportunity and do what we should have done anyway. Let’s declare the Brotherhood a terrorist organization.’ Having done that, we turn back to Qatar and say, ‘Now, you follow suit.’”

“I think we ought to use the president’s summit meeting in Riyadh a couple of weeks ago, where they created this pan-Arab, pan-Muslim center for combating extremism and give all these governments the cover they need to cut off the sources of terrorist financing,” he said. “Cut it off from Qatar and the Qatari royal family, cut it off from Saudi Arabia, cut it off from all of the Arab countries that have so much excess cash flowing around because of the oil revenues.”

“There’s a way to me here to advance American objectives and get Arab unity back, which we do need as we look at the coming problem with Iran,” Bolton judged.

He suggested adding Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps to the designated terrorist list because “that’s fundamentally what it is,” but he acknowledged that applying that designation to the Muslim Brotherhood has proven surprisingly difficult.

“There’s been an amazing campaign. It’s always amazing to me how these stories and op-eds and lines of chatter appear simultaneously, all very well-coordinated,” said Bolton. “The argument being the Muslim Brotherhood is a complicated organization, not every part of it is devoted to the support of terrorism. Some of them do humanitarian work and so on; a declaration that the entire Brotherhood is a foreign terrorist organization would actually buttress the cause of the jihadis; so, therefore, don’t do anything.”

“Let’s take the notion inherent in that argument as having some validity, that there are pieces of the Muslim Brotherhood that don’t qualify under the statutory definition we have of a foreign terrorist organization,” he allowed. “My response to that is, ‘Okay, we need some careful drafting based on the evidence we have now that excludes some affiliates, some components of the Muslim Brotherhood from the designation.’ I’m prepared to live with that, of course, until we get more complete information.”

“But the argument of the proponents of the Brotherhood is because things are complicated, do nothing. Do not declare any part of it a terrorist organization. That’s the wrong conclusion. The right conclusion is, things are complicated? Okay, fine. Just declare part of it a terrorist organization. We’ll deal with the rest of it later,” he said.

“It’s not an argument to do nothing,” Bolton insisted. “It’s an argument to be precise in designating what is a foreign terrorist organization. I think good lawyers, good counterterrorism experts could do this without a huge amount of difficulty, and I really think it’s the right thing to do in terms of policy. And as you say, I think it’s the right thing to do politically for the Trump administration as well.”

Marlow concluded by bringing up another extremely complex situation: North Korea’s nuclear missile program and the odds that China will take meaningful action to halt it. “Is China increasingly belligerent to the United States, and are they doing enough on North Korea at this point in time?” he asked.

“I think they’re increasingly belligerent all around their frontier and in the world as a whole,” Bolton replied. “Take trying to take over the South China Sea as just one example of it.”

“On North Korea, they’ve said for 25 years they don’t want North Korea to have nuclear weapons because it will cause instability in East Asia, and that’s a bad thing for their economic growth. That’s what they say, but they never deliver on that,” he noted.

“I personally think they’ve been playing a double game. They appear to tighten sanctions on North Korea until our attention wanders and we look at something else, and then we’re back to business as usual. They’ve done it to Donald Trump. He’s already noted that in his famous tweet. But that’s been a pattern they’ve followed for a long, long time on North Korea,” he said.

“I think we’ve got to call them on it because I think the North Korean threat is getting increasingly dangerous, increasingly risky for the United States, and our options are limited. Fiddling around with China as we have for 25 years is not going to solve the problem,” Bolton advised.

John Bolton is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and head of his own political action committee, BoltonPAC.

Russia’s new favorite jihadis: The Taliban

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Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, January 4, 2017:

Note: This article was first published by The Daily Beast.

More than 15 years into America’s war in Afghanistan, the Russian government is openly advocating on behalf of the Taliban.

Last week, Moscow hosted Chinese and Pakistani emissaries to discuss the war. Tellingly, no Afghan officials were invited. However, the trio of nations urged the world to be “flexible” in dealing with the Taliban, which remains the Afghan government’s most dangerous foe. Russia even argued that the Taliban is a necessary bulwark in the war against the so-called Islamic State.

For its part, the American military sees Moscow’s embrace of the Taliban as yet another move intended to undermine NATO, which fights the Taliban, al Qaeda, and the Islamic State every day.

After Moscow’s conference, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova spoke with reporters and noted that “the three countries expressed particular concern about the rising activity in the country of extremist groups, including the Afghan branch of IS [the Islamic State, or ISIS].”

According to Reuters, Zakharova added that China, Pakistan, and Russia agreed upon a “flexible approach to remove certain [Taliban] figures from [United Nations] sanctions lists as part of efforts to foster a peaceful dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban movement.”

The Taliban, which refers to itself as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, quickly praised the “Moscow tripartite” in a statement posted online on Dec. 29.

“It is joyous to see that the regional countries have also understood that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is a political and military force,” Muhammad Sohail Shaheen, a spokesman for the group’s political office, said in the statement. “The proposal forwarded in the Moscow tripartite of delisting members of the Islamic Emirate is a positive step forward in bringing peace and security to Afghanistan.”

Of course, the Taliban isn’t interested in “peace and security.” The jihadist group wants to win the Afghan war and it is using negotiations with regional and international powers to improve its standing. The Taliban has long manipulated “peace” negotiations with the U.S. and Western powers as a pretext for undoing international sanctions that limit the ability of its senior figures to travel abroad for lucrative fundraising and other purposes, even while offering no serious gestures toward peace.

The Obama administration has repeatedly tried, and failed, to open the door to peace. In May 2014, the U.S. transferred five senior Taliban figures from Guantanamo to Qatar. Ostensibly, the “Taliban Five” were traded for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, an American who reportedly deserted his fellow soldiers and was then held by the Taliban and its jihadist allies. But the Obama administration also hoped that the exchange would be a so-called confidence-building measure and lead to more substantive negotiations. The Taliban’s leaders never agreed to any such discussions. They simply wanted their comrades, at least two of whom are suspected of committing war crimes, freed from Guantanamo.

Regardless, Russia is now enabling the Taliban’s disingenuous diplomacy by pretending that ISIS is the more worrisome threat. It’s a game the Russians have been playing for more than a year.

In December 2015, Zamir Kabulov, who serves as Vladimir Putin’s special representative for Afghanistan, went so far as to claim that “the Taliban interest objectively coincides with ours” when it comes to fighting ISIS head Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s loyalists. Kabulov even conceded that Russia and the Taliban have “channels for exchanging information,” according to The Washington Post.

The American commanders leading the fight in Afghanistan don’t buy Russia’s argument—at all.

During a press briefing on Dec. 2, General John W. Nicholson Jr., the commander of NATO’s Resolute Support and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, discussed “the malign influence of external actors and particularly Pakistan, Russia, and Iran.” Gen. Nicholson said the U.S. and its allies are “concerned about the external enablement of the insurgent or terrorist groups inside Afghanistan, in particular where they enjoy sanctuary or support from outside governments.” Russia, in particular, “has overtly lent legitimacy to the Taliban.”

According to Nicholson, the Russian “narrative” is “that the Taliban are the ones fighting the Islamic State, not the Afghan government.” While the Taliban does fight its jihadist rivals in the Islamic State, this is plainly false.

The “Afghan government and the U.S. counterterrorism effort are the ones achieving the greatest effect against Islamic State,” Nicholson said. He went on to list the U.S.-led coalition’s accomplishments over the past year: 500 ISIS fighters (comprising an estimated 25 to 30 percent of the group’s overall force structure) were killed or wounded, the organization’s “top 12 leaders” (including its emir, Hafiz Saeed Khan) were killed, and the group’s “sanctuary” has been reduced from nine Afghan districts to just three.

“So, this public legitimacy that Russia lends to the Taliban is not based on fact, but it is used as a way to essentially undermine the Afghan government and the NATO effort and bolster the belligerents,” Nicholson concluded. While Nicholson was careful not read too much into Russia’s motivation for backing the Taliban, he noted “certainly there’s a competition with NATO.”

There’s no doubt that ISIS’s operations in Afghanistan grew significantly in the wake of Baghdadi’s caliphate declaration in 2014. However, as Nicholson correctly pointed out, Baghdadi’s men are not adding to the territory they control at the moment. Their turf is shrinking. The same cannot be said for the Taliban, which remains the most significant threat to Afghanistan’s future. At any given time, the Taliban threatens several provincial capitals. The Taliban also controls dozens of Afghan districts and contests many more. Simply put, the Taliban is a far greater menace inside Afghanistan than Baghdadi’s men.

Regardless, the Russians continue to press their case. Their argument hinges on the idea that ISIS is a “global” force to be reckoned with, while the Taliban is just a “local” nuisance.

Kabulov, Putin’s special envoy to Afghanistan, made this very same claim in a newly-published interview with Anadolu Agency. Kabulov contends that “the bulk, main leadership, current leadership, and the majority of Taliban” are now a “local force” as a “result of all these historical lessons they got in Afghanistan.”

“They gave up the global jihadism idea,” Kabulov adds. “They are upset and regret that they followed Osama bin Laden.”

Someone should tell the Taliban’s media department this.

In early December, the Taliban released a major documentary video, “Bond of Nation with the Mujahideen.” The video included clips of the Taliban’s most senior leaders rejecting peace talks and vowing to wage jihad until the end. It also openly advertised the Taliban’s undying alliance with al Qaeda. At one point, an image of Osama bin Laden next to Taliban founder Mullah Omar is displayed on screen. (A screen shot of this clip can be seen above.) Photos of other al Qaeda and Taliban figures are mixed together in the same shot.

An audio message from Sheikh Khalid Batarfi, an al Qaeda veteran stationed in Yemen, is also played during the video. Batarfi praised the Taliban for protecting bin Laden even after the Sept. 11, 2001 hijackings. “Groups of Afghan Mujahideen have emerged from the land of Afghans that will destroy the biggest idol and head of kufr of our time, America,” Batarfi threatened.

A narrator added that the mujahideen in Afghanistan “are the hope of Muslims for reviving back the honor of the Muslim Ummah [worldwide community of Muslims]!” The Afghan jihadists are a “hope for taking back the Islamic lands!” and a “hope for not repeating defeats and tragedies of the last century!”

The Taliban’s message is, therefore, unmistakable: The war in Afghanistan is part of the global jihadist conflict.

All of this, and more, is in one of the Taliban’s most important media productions of 2016. There is no hint that the Taliban “regrets” allying with al Qaeda, or has given “up the global jihadism idea,” as Kabulov claims. The exact opposite is true.

There is much more to the Taliban-al Qaeda nexus. In August 2015, al Qaeda honcho Ayman al Zawahiri swore allegiance to Mullah Mansour, who was named as Mullah Omar’s successor as the Taliban’s emir. Mansour publicly accepted Zawahiri’s fealty and Zawahiri’s oath was prominently featured on the Taliban’s website. After Mansour was killed earlier this year, Zawahiri pledged his allegiance to Mansour’s replacement, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada. Zawahiri and other al Qaeda leaders regularly call upon Muslims to support the Taliban and reject the Islamic State’s Afghan branch.

In his interview with Anadolu Agency, Kabulov concedes that not all of the Taliban has “given up” the global jihadist “ideas.” He admits that within the Taliban “you can find very influential groups like the Haqqani network whose ideology is more radical, closer to Daesh [or ISIS].”

Kabulov is right that the Haqqanis are committed jihadi ideologues, but he misses the obvious contradiction in his arguments. Siraj Haqqani, who leads the Haqqani network, is also one of the Taliban’s top two deputy leaders. He is the Taliban’s military warlord. Not only is Siraj Haqqani a “radical” ideologue, as Kabulov mentions in passing, he is also one of al Qaeda’s most committed allies. Documents recovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound show that al Qaeda’s men closely cooperate with Siraj Haqqani on the Afghan battlefields.

Kabulov claims that the Islamic State “operates much more smartly” than al Qaeda and has “learned from all the mistakes of al Qaeda.” He says Baghdadi’s enterprise has “brought more advanced and sophisticated people to design, plan, and [execute] policy.” Once again, the exact opposite is true.

Al Qaeda has long known the pitfalls of the Islamic State’s in-your-face strategy, and has smartly decided to hide the extent of its influence and operations. Zawahiri and his lieutenants have also used the Islamic State’s over-the-top brutality to market themselves as a more reasonable jihadi alternative. And both the Taliban and al Qaeda are attempting to build more popular support for their cause as much of the world remains focused on the so-called caliphate’s horror show.

Al Qaeda’s plan has worked so well that the Russians would have us believe that the Taliban, al Qaeda’s longtime ally, should be viewed as a prospective partner.

Kabulov says that Russia is waiting to see how the “new president, [Donald] Trump, describe[s] his Afghan policy” before determining what course should be pursued next.

Here’s one thing the Trump administration should do right away: Make it clear that the Taliban and al Qaeda remain our enemies in Afghanistan.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD’s Long War Journal.