A leftist State Department official is publicly attacking President Trump on social media

Kambiz Hosseini | Wikimedia Commons

Conservative Review, by Jordan Schachtel, March 20, 2017:

Alan Eyre, a high-ranking State Department official known for his pro-Tehran, anti-Israel biases — and a key component of the Iran nuclear deal’s negotiating team— has been using his verified Twitter account to repost articles attacking President Trump, the man who he ultimately answers to.

The postings, shared below, are only a small snapshot of what Eyre has tweeted out over the past month and shared with his 100,000-plus followers. Some mock the president and question his intelligence and integrity (again, Eyre’s boss). Another post calls President Trump’s decisions “senseless” and “heartless.”

Eyre now works at the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources, within its Middle East/Asia department, according to his bio.

Under the Obama administration, Alan Eyre served as the State Department’s Persian language spokesperson. According to reports, he played a critical role in advancing the Iran nuclear deal, which resulted in a cash windfall for the terrorist regime in Tehran.

This is not the first time Eyre has been noticed engaging in controversial social media activities. In 2015, the Washington Free Beacon exposed that he had been promoting anti-Israel conspiracy theories.

From his personal Facebook page, Eyre published stories by anti-Semitic authors and fringe websites that “demonize American Jewish groups and Israel,” the report said. But that was at least from his personal page. His current stream of anti-Trump postings are being distributed from his verified public Twitter account.

As an Obama official, Eyre twice keynoted the annual conference of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a group that many Iranian dissidents and freedom fighters consider to be a front for the regime in Tehran. NIAC is led by Trita Parsi, an Iranian-Swedish national who reportedly acts as a the point of contact for top officials in Iran.

NIAC became very cozy with the Obama administration (Parsi visited the White House 33 times), and coordinated with it to sell Iran deal lies to the American people. In its hell-bent quest to push the deal, NIAC painted opponents of the agreement as “warmongers” and challenged the loyalties of American Jews to the country and president.

Eyre is not the only State Department official who has pushed for policies that directly contradict President Trump’s platform.

Chris Backemeyer currently serves as deputy assistant secretary for Iranian affairs under Secretary Rex Tillerson. He was intimately involved in pushing for the Iran deal and misled the American people about where billions of dollars for the Tehran regime had gone.

Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, an essential advocate for Obama’s Iran deal, is currently in charge of Iran and the Persian Gulf on Secretary Tillerson’s policy planning staff.

And Michael Ratney, who oversaw a group that campaigned to oust Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was one of John Kerry’s closest confidants. He’s now in charge of the Israeli-Palestinian portfolio at the Department of State.

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

Smearing Trump’s national-security braintrust

Donald Trump and Sebastian Gorka. Reuters; Getty Images

New York Post, by Paul Sperry, March 21, 2017:

No, Sebastian Gorka is not a goose-stepping Nazi.

This was a revelation to the writers and editors of The Forward, who all but accused him of being one last week, and to the publications that picked up and spread this juicy story before it was debunked by Liel Liebovitz at Tablet magazine. (At issue was whether Gorka is a secret member of a Hungarian group that collaborated with Nazis during World War II. He categorically denies it.)

The personal attacks aimed at Gorka and Michael Anton, both key national-security aides to President Trump, aren’t the only false stories in the left’s smear campaign against these two.

They have been painted in outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Politico and The Atlantic as Islamophobic hardliners hellbent on dragging us into more Mideast wars. But that bears little resemblance to their writing, which the Trump haters haven’t bothered to explore in any depth.

A closer reading of their voluminous writings reveals a cold-eyed realism about global affairs vs. the wild-eyed “extremism” portrayed by the media.

Gorka has cautioned against using “inflammatory” religious terms to describe even terrorism done in the name of Islam, arguing in his largely overlooked Ph.D. dissertation that it offends “law-abiding Muslims everywhere.” Also in his 240-page dissertation, Gorka calls a policy of exporting democracy “totally wrong-headed,” especially in the Middle East. “Any notion that concepts of democracy are universal must be discarded.”

“There is much evidence beyond the core tenets of the Quran and the Muslim world that suggests that our culture has been consciously rejected by other parts of the globe,” he explained, adding that promoting our brand of democracy in those regions often leads to “instability.”

Gorka, whose father was tortured by the Communists as a Hungarian freedom fighter, calls the harsh US interrogation techniques used against Iraqi prisoners a “scandal.” Abu Ghraib, he wrote in 2007, “has provided grist to the mills of the propaganda machine of Salafists.”

Anton, meanwhile, has argued for a middle path between “paleo-isolationism and neocon overreach.”

“Among the many reasons to be hopeful about President Trump’s foreign policy is that he seems to understand that correcting the errors of the neo-interventionists does not require adopting those of the paleo-isolationists,” Anton argues in the current issue of American Affairs Journal.

Both he and Gorka part ways with isolationists like Pat Buchanan when it comes to dealing with Iran. They agree it’s in America’s interest to intervene to deny Tehran nukes. But toppling dictators simply for the sake of promoting democracy is a fool’s errand, the two realists argue.

“In some regions, democracy also correlates highly with instability, which breeds war and chaos that are antithetical to American interests,” Anton writes, adding that opening elections often installs tyrannies worse than what preceded the “democracy” (as with Hamas in the West Bank and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt).

When it comes to battling global terrorism, Gorka knows that “we cannot realistically hope for a perfect victory” against jihadists. At the same time, he asserts that we have to do more than the “whack-a-mole” strategy of the past eight years. The ISIS “caliphate” proves the folly of such a reactionary approach.

Victory demands a more comprehensive strategy, starting with recognizing the connection between Islam and terrorism. While “we are not at war with Islam,” says Gorka, who studied theology at the University of London, our jihadist enemy is using Islamic doctrine to justify its actions. Key to defeating it is understanding that threat doctrine.

A cohesive strategy also means preventing ISIS and other terrorist groups from using our immigration policy as a Trojan Horse to sneak jihadists inside our borders.

Anton, who holds two masters degrees and worked previously (2001-05) at the National Security Council, calls “terrorism and mass illegal immigration” the “two biggest threats of our time.” He’s right, and adjusting foreign policy to respond to them is hardly “xenophobic.” As he notes, “The first priority of every state is to protect its own safety and the safety of its citizens.”

For nearly a decade, Islamofascists have been on the ascendancy around the world. Acts of jihadist terror, aided by liberal immigration policies, have multiplied in Europe. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the most vocal critics of the Trump Doctrine and its architects are the architects or cheerleaders of the failed doctrine it seeks to replace.

Paul Sperry, a former Hoover Institution fellow, is author of several books on national security.

Gaffney defiant in the face of mainstream media attacks

Center for Security Policy, by Frank Gaffney, March 21, 2017:

Extract from Secure Freedom Radio, 20 March 2017:

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

I want to take a few minutes for what is known in government as a “point of personal privilege.” It’s what you do when someone attacks you and you need to set the record straight.

In my case, reporters for prominent national publications have gone after me as a way of attacking Donald Trump and his senior subordinates. Matthew Rosenberg of the New York Times, Eli Lake of Bloomberg, Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post and most recently Peter Beinart of the Atlantic have largely ignored the substance of lengthy interviews I have given them, in order to vilify me and the work we do at the Center for Security Policy.

In each case, it’s clear these journalists don’t approve of our research and the fact that first Candidate Trump and President Trump have arrived at similar conclusions.

As I told each of these reporters, that research has demonstrated several realities:

  • The authorities of Islam contend that the practice of their faith requires abject adherence to a political, legal and military doctrine they call Sharia.
  • It has a veneer of religiosity to it – by some estimates ten percent is concerned with pietistic practices like how often Muslims are supposed to pray, what they can eat, and the like.
  • But at the end of the day, Sharia is about power, not faith.
  • Sharia has been defined for some 1300 years by a rendering of it known as The Reliance of the Traveler.
  • This massive book makes clear that the faithful Muslim is entitled, for example, to brutalize women and otherwise treat them as property, murder homosexuals and kill Jews, apostates, females accused of adultery and anyone who “defames” Islam.
  • I impressed upon each of these journalists – as I do with audiences I address across the country – thankfully, all Muslims do not practice their faith according to Sharia.
  • That is particularly true in the United States to which many of them came from Sharia-compliant countries to escape its horrors.
  • They neither want to live under Sharia nor impose it on others.
  • That said, there is no getting around the fact that Sharia is a supremacist ideology that commands its adherents, not only to practice it unquestioningly themselves, but to compel everyone else – Muslim and non-Muslim, alike – to submit to it worldwide.
  • Sharia dictates that the faithful must engage in jihad in one form or another – violent jihad, demographic jihad, financial jihad or the subversive, stealthy kind the Muslim Brotherhood calls “civilization jihad.”
  • To the extent that Muslims conform to Sharia as the authorities of Islam and Reliance of the Traveler demand, they must reject such American principles and values as democratic self-governance, man-made laws, the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution, respect for human rights, etc.
  • Instead, it is their duty to supplant those principles and values with Sharia.
  • For example, according to the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam adopted by 56 Muslim nations in 1990, Muslims can enjoy freedoms only to the extent allowed by Sharia.

These are statements of fact.

  • Recounting them is not “Islamophobia,” hate-mongering, racism or bigotry.
  • Rather, it is essential to an accurate understanding of the threat Sharia poses to this country and to Western civilization more generally.
  • And such an understanding is essential if we are to defend our constitutional republic from those who believe it’s Allah’s will for them to destroy it through whatever means is practicable.
  • Yet, Messrs. Rosenberg, Lake, Jaffe and Beinart promote in their respective publications and to varying degrees the false meme that pointing out such facts is evidence of hostility to all It’s said to reflect a desire to deny those in this country their constitutionally protected freedoms and keep those outside our borders from coming in.
  • They are not alone in promoting this phony narrative, of course.
  • According to documents from George Soros’ foundation released last fall by Wikileaks, “marginalizing” me and others who speak such truths has been a project for his philanthropy.
  • And Muslim Brotherhood fronts like the Council on American Islamic Relations, which was founded by Hamas in 1993, the leftist Center for American Progress and the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center have been among those determined to silence national security professionals and others who are effective in challenging Sharia-supremacism in this country and elsewhere.

Let’s be clear, by falsely accusing me and my colleagues of such views, these journalists are not just discounting the salience of our warnings. They are helping Soros and his minions suppress our freedom of expression and reinforcing what amounts to hate-mongering against us.

More importantly, to the extent that such reporters are promoting the fraudulent meme that Donald Trump and his subordinates are being unduly influenced by me or others – and are, therefore, also Islamophobes, racists, etc. – they are seeking to suppress them, too.

Indeed, that’s the transparent object of the exercise. Reporters and media outlets are making common cause with what’s been called the “Red-Green axis” for the purpose of neutralizing – if not actually removing from office – the President and his most principled and capable subordinates, such as Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions, Kellyanne Conway, Sebastian Gorka and Steven Miller.

Time won’t permit at this juncture a point-by-point rebuttal of the various, spurious charges made against me and others by the aforementioned reporters and their ilk.

Let me take a moment, though, to address a new one leveled by Peter Beinart in his hit piece in The Atlantic concerning the so-called “denationalization” of Muslims in this country.

I had never heard this term before and certainly have never used it myself. Neither have I ever advocated what it evidently describes – seeking to strip all American Muslims of either their nationality or their rights and shutting down all mosques in this country.

Here’s what I do believe: The Sharia-supremacist infrastructure built here over the past fifty years by the Muslim Brotherhood and its fronts –in the form of mosques, Islamic societies, cultural centers and organizations targeting our government, media, churches and synagogues, schools, businesses, etc. – is an incubator for jihad. We continue to ignore it and the stated purposes of those Brotherhood operatives and their Shiite counterparts at our extreme peril.

The first order of business must be to be clear about the threat posed to our Constitution and freedoms by Sharia-supremacism. In his August 15th speech in Youngstown, Ohio, Candidate Donald Trump made clear that he gets that.

Second, we must stop importing more Sharia-supremacists. That is a purpose President Trump’s immigration pause could helpfully advance.

Third, the Trump administration must officially designate the Muslim Brotherhood as the terrorist organization it is. That would create a basis for countering those mosques and front groups it owns and/or operates in this country.

Finally, if the foregoing steps are taken, we have an opportunity to encourage the Muslim-American community to eschew the Sharia-supremacists and their efforts to promote the real denationalization agenda – namely, the Brotherhood’s practice of demanding non-assimilation in and hostility toward the United States, its culture and laws.

These are the sorts of recommendations warranted by the facts, appropriate to the challenges of our time and necessary to protect Western civilization. I am proud to espouse them and refuse to be intimidated or silenced by the relentless vilification to which I am subjected.

I am gratified that people who have arrived at a similar understanding of the facts are now in a position to ensure that those facts receive the necessary policy analysis and debate – instead of being officially suppressed in the name of “political correctness,” “multiculturalism” and “diversity sensitivity.” Whatever we call such behavior, our Sharia-adherent enemies regard it as evidence of our submission, which only emboldens them to secure that condition irreversibly through ever-more-aggressive acts of jihad.

The time has come for action in countering the jihad. Despite all the vilification, intimidation and coercive pressure aimed at silencing those of us at the Center for Security Policy, we will continue to speak the truth about Sharia-supremacism and help those in power act decisively to defeat it.

Also see:

Interview with Angelo M. Codevilla on ‘Romancing the Sunni: A US Policy Tragedy’

Published on Jan 1, 2016 by Asia Times

Angelo M. Codevilla, professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University, and a member of the Hoover Institution’s working group on military history, answers Asia Times questions on how the US government’s foreign policy mess has created a monster like the ISIS. Today, the Daesh/ISIS — a sub-sect of Sunni Islam — murders and encourages murdering Americans.

READ THE THREE-PART SERIES HERE:

PART 1: http://atimes.com/2015/12/romancing-t…

PART 2: http://atimes.com/2015/12/romancing-t…

PART 3: http://atimes.com/2015/12/romancing-t…

Angelo M. Codevilla is professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University, and a member of the Hoover Institution’s working group on military history. He is the author of fourteen books, including  Informing Statecraft, War, ends And Means, The Character of Nations, Advice to War Presidents, and To Make and Keep Peace.  He served on President Ronald Reagan’s transition teams for the Department of State and the Intelligence agencies. He was a US naval officer and a US foreign service officer. As a staff member of the US Senate Intelligence committee, he supervised the intelligence agencies’ budgets with emphasis on collection systems and counterintelligence. He was instrumental in developing technologies for modern anti-missile defense. Codevilla has taught ancient and modern political thought and international affairs at major universities.

More Evidence That McMaster Shares Obama’s Views on Islam and Terror

President Donald Trump, right, shakes hands with Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, left, at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., Monday, Feb. 20, 2017, where he announced that McMaster will be the new national security adviser. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

PJ Media, by Raymond Ibrahim, March 14, 2017:

Donald Trump’s new national security advisor, Lt. General H.R. McMaster, has made troubling remarks — such as “the Islamic State is not Islamic” — that one expects from the D.C. establishment. However a hearty endorsement that he gave to a 2010 book points to the totality of McMaster’s views on security issues as being worse than simply his parroting politically correct memes on Islam.

The book in question is Militant Islamist IdeologyUnderstanding the Global Threat. Written by CDR Youssef Aboul-Enein, it was published by the Naval Institute Press in 2010. I read and reviewed it back in 2012 and found its claims — many of which the Obama administration followed to disastrous results — to be incorrect and problematic.

For starters, Aboul-Enein asserts that only “militant Islamists” — ISIS types who behead, crucify, massacre, and burn people alive — are the enemy. “Non-militant Islamists,” however, are not:

It is the Militant Islamists who are our adversary. They represent an immediate threat to the national security of the United States. They must not be confused with Islamists.

This theme, which the author expresses in convoluted language — at one point he urges the reader to appreciate the “the divisions between Militant Islamists and between Militant Islamists and Islamists” (p.176) — permeates the book. In reality, all Islamists share the same ultimate goal of global Islamic hegemony. They differ in methodology — but not in their view of us as the enemy to be crushed.

“Non-militant Islamists,” chief among them the Muslim Brotherhood, see incremental infiltration and subtle subversion of infidel Western states as more effective than outright terrorism, as one notorious Brotherhood memo clearly states.[1]

We’ve already seen the outcome of cooperating with “Non-militant Islamists” during the Arab Spring. The Obama administration cast aside decades of U.S. policy and support for secular Arab autocrats and made cozy with the Muslim Brotherhood. What followed is well-known: the Arab Spring quickly turned into the “Islamic Winter.” This culminated with the rise of the Islamic State, in large part due to Obama’s policies, both active (aiding Islamic terrorists by portraying them as “freedom fighters,” in Libya and Syria) and inactive (pulling all U.S. forces out of Iraq despite the warnings, and disposing of a 30-year ally of the U.S., the secularist Mubarak, for the Brotherhood in Egypt).

Aboul-Enein further recommends American forces adopt a Sharia-compliant respect for Islam and Muslims.

For example, he suggests that if an American soldier ever desecrates a Koran, U.S. leadership must not merely relieve him of duty, but offer “unconditional apologies,” and emulate the words of Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Hammond, which Aboul-Enein quotes as exemplary: “I come before you [Muslims] seeking your forgiveness, in the most humble manner I look in your eyes today, and say please forgive me and my soldiers,” followed by kissing a new Koran and “ceremoniously” presenting it to Muslims.

Not only is such a double-standard un-American — would a serviceman be punished for the “desecration” of any other religious book? — but the very idea that supremacist Muslims can be won over through servile and fawning appeasement is antithetical to reality, if not human nature. Abject behavior breeds contempt and encourages more Muslim aggression and demands.

Here are a few more examples of Aboul-Enein’s false claims, distortions, and general oddities, though one could go on and on:

  • He writes (p.142) that “when Muslims are a persecuted minority Jihad becomes a fard kifaya (an optional obligation), in which the imam authorizes annual expeditions into Dar el Harb (the Abode of War), lands considered not under Muslim dominance.” This is wrong on several levels.
    • fard kifaya is not an “optional obligation” — an oxymoron if ever there was one — but rather a “communal obligation.” Moreover, he is clearly describing Offensive Jihad, which is designed to subjugate non-Muslims and is obligatory to wage whenever Muslims are capable, not “when Muslims are a persecuted minority,” which in Islamic jurisprudence is a Defensive Jihad and fard ‘ain (i.e., individual obligation).
  • He says (p.75) that the Arabic word for “terrorist” (irhabi) is nowhere to be found in the Koran or Hadith. He does not mention that the verb form of that word (tirhibun), “terrorize,” abounds in Islamic scriptures (e.g., Allah himself calls on Muslims to “terrorize”  Islam’s opponents in Koran 8:60).
  • He asserts (p.65) that “militant Islamists dismiss ijmaa [consensus] and qiyas [analogical reasoning].” This is simply false. Groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS regularly invoke ijmaa (for instance, the consensus that jihad becomes a personal duty — fard ‘ain — when infidels invade the Islamic world) and justify suicide attacks precisely through qiyas (see The Al Qaeda Reader, p.138).
  • After rightfully admonishing readers not to rely on skewed or biased accounts of Islam, he repeatedly recommends (e.g., pgs. 20, 213, 216) the writings of Muslim apologist extraordinaire Karen Armstrong, whose whitewashing of all things Islamic is notorious.

Such are the claims, distortions, and recommendations of a book that McMaster wholeheartedly endorsed in 2010 as “excellent” and “deserv[ing] a wide readership,” a book that claims “[t]errorist organizations use a narrow and irreligious ideology to recruit undereducated and disenfranchised people to their cause.” This is yet another tired apologia that has been repeatedly debunked. [2]

Over a year ago I closed an article for Hoover Institution’s Strategika with the following sentence:

Time will tell whether the next [American presidential] administration will remain willfully ignorant of the nature of its jihadi enemy — which is fatal in war according to Sun Tzu’s ancient dictum, ‘know your enemy’ — or whether reality will trump political correctness.

The pun remains truer than ever: If the recommendations of Militant Islamist Ideology reflect McMaster’s views on U.S. security and Islam — especially this notion of cooperating with “Nonmilitant Islamists” — then it seems we are going right back to being “willfully ignorant” of reality.

———————————

[1] Excerpt followsUnderstanding the role of the Muslim Brother in North America

“The process of settlement is a “Civilization-Jihadist Process” with all the word means. The Ikhwan [meaning Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”

“Without this level of understanding, we are not up to this challenge and have not prepared ourselves for Jihad yet. It is a Muslim’s destiny to perform Jihad and work wherever he is and wherever he lands until the final hour comes, and there is no escape from that destiny except for those who chose to slack.”

[2] Here is McMaster’s entire endorsement, as it appears on the back of the book’s jacket cover:

“Terrorist organizations use a narrow and irreligious ideology to recruit undereducated and disenfranchised people to their cause. Understanding terrorist ideology is the first and may also be the most important step in ensuring national and international security against the threat that these organizations pose.

Youssef Aboul-Enein’s book is an excellent starting point in that connection. Militant Islamist Ideology deserves a wide readership among all those concerned with the problem of transnational terrorism, their ideology, and our efforts to combat those organizations that pose a serious threat to current and future generations of Muslims and non-Muslims alike.”

NatSec advisor Michael Anton outlines a way forward with an alternative to the “New World Order”

Michael Anton, center, at a White House news briefing Feb. 1. At left are Michael Flynn and K.T. McFarland. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Michael Anton, center, at a White House news briefing Feb. 1. At left are Michael Flynn and K.T. McFarland. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Note: Michael Anton is Deputy Assistant to the President for Strategic Communications, National Security Council. This article was prepared before the author accepted his current position. The views here reflect only those of the author. They do not represent the views of the Trump administration, the National Security Advisor, or the U.S. government.

American Affairs Journal

Trump’s campaign was driven by the basic awareness of ordinary citizens that American peace, prestige, and prosperity were not being served by our foreign policy. Among the many reasons to be hopeful about President Trump’s foreign policy is that he seems to understand that correcting the errors of the neo-interventionists does not require adopting those of the paleo-isolationists.

Excerpt:

Reforming the Liberal International Order

How best to remain safe, rich, and respected? Let us consider the ways in which the LIO might be reformed.

First, our trade policy is in obvious need of reform. The LIO elevates “free trade”—really, phonebook-thick agreements that regulate every aspect of trade, mostly to America’s disadvantage—to holy writ. It does so for political reasons as well as ideological ones, such as the often-inappropriate invocation of David Ricardo. The office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has been composed entirely of true believers in the free trade doctrine for several decades. But the world economy has changed significantly since 1945, to state the obvious. In certain cases, at least, the conditions underlying that period’s commercial policy orientation (and the theoretical impulses behind it) no longer apply. The Trump administration is right to be skeptical of free trade ideology and to revisit trade policy based on core interests and commercial realities.

We could also be more sensible about our alliance structure. NATO is far from irrelevant today, but it could surely be made more relevant. Certainly, decades of joint exercise, interoperability rules, interchangeable weapons systems, and the like should not be tossed aside lightly, especially among countries with long histories of deep bonds and common interests. But it is reasonable to ask: What is the alliance for once its original purpose has evaporated? If it can be reformed to better address the threats of our time—terrorism, mass illegal migration—all to the good.

We must also ask: Why is it in our strategic interest to push that alliance’s borders ever outward? What do we gain by pledging American blood to defend places where it would take us a 48-hour airlift to mount a forlorn defense with one regiment? In what way does committing to impossible things enhance prestige?

The case for continued expansion of the LIO seems feeble indeed and has recently been taken to absurd extremes. One school of thought—let us call them the “neocons”—holds that since democracy is “our team,” and that team’s overall health improves when its prospects are expanding, then surely it is in our interest to democratize the world. No?

No. That is to say: America would likely be better off if the world were more democratic than it is, given that democracy correlates highly with friendliness or at least non-opposition to American interests, whereas “authoritarianism” (or, to be more precise, “tyranny”) correlates highly with opposition and even hostility to American interests. But in some regions, democracy also correlates highly with instability, which breeds war and chaos that are antithetical to American interests. In others, the rhetoric and mechanism of democracy are used—one man, one vote, once—to squelch robust democracy and impose a tyranny worse than what preceded the “democracy.”

Sticking with the LIO’s original context between 1945 and 1989, its first purpose was to preserve democracy where it already existed and was under threat, either by foreign conquest or foreign-directed internal subversion. Second, it was to restore democracy to “captive nations” whose liberty had been seized by a foreign power. Third, it was to develop democracy (gradually) in countries with substantial economies, deep reserves of human capital, and civil intuitions capable of serving as soil in which democracy could grow. Never did it mean imposition of democracy—much less suggest this imposition was a vital American interest.

Democracy is a precarious flower. It will not grow just anywhere. There are a great many patches of land we could easily seize that are nonetheless fit for growing only cacti or weeds. If we see the democratic flower struggling to bloom in a place where and at a time when we have the capacity to water it, and it is in our interest to do so, by all means we should consider it. But the fact that America has a “team interest” in the success or non-failure of democracy does not mean that we have an interest in trying to impose democracy in places where it is almost certain to fail. In fact, the opposite is true, because glaring failures undermine our prestige.

I would ask careful readers to please note that, for all the criticism of the foreign policy establishment, nothing here has specifically criticized the LIO per se. It served our interests well in the times and places for which it was built. It remains superior to most alternatives, including paleo-isolationism and neocon overreach. Confusion may arise from the implicit conflation of the LIO with the latter. It is not an outrageous error to make, precisely because the neocons have expended a lot of effort since the end of the Cold War to meld the two in the public mind, beginning with the so-called Wolfowitz Doctrine strategy paper drafted in the Pentagon in 1992 and continuing in 2014 with Robert Kagan’s New Republicthink piece “Superpowers Don’t Get to Retire.”

The very phrase “liberal international order” hints at the problem. It is at least a better term than President George H. W. Bush’s “new world order,” for the simple reason that the LIO has never prevailed over the entire world and never had a chance to. The failure to see this limit was, it seems, the core mistake of America’s post–Cold War foreign policy. The establishment thought it could take a system built (more or less) for the OECD or the Rich Nations Club and make it work everywhere. That was never possible and still isn’t. The “liberal international order” is thus better termed the “liberal rich-country order” or—if you prefer foreign policy jargon—the “liberal functioning-core order.”

Even if one were to assert that America’s national interest is to build and maintain a liberal order in every corner of the globe (which it isn’t), we would still face the thorny problem that America lacks the means to do so. We have to choose. What do we choose and on what basis?

In sum, the reach of “liberal international order”—while mostly beneficial to American interests—is in practice a lot smaller than the whole world. Even when created in 1945–1950, it was never intended to encompass the globe. It was built to protect the interests of America and its non-Communist friends in Europe and Asia and (in an update to the Monroe Doctrine) keep Communism out of the Western Hemisphere. The Middle East was added later, in stages, as Anglo-French hegemony collapsed after Suez, as the original Western-friendly Arab kings fell, and as the West (and the United States especially) became net oil importers. The attempt, beginning in 1991–92, to extend that order over the whole world was a case of American eyes being much bigger than our stomachs (or teeth), a confusion of ideology and interests. In fact, however, such expansion was never necessary to core American interests—peace, prosperity, prestige.

The uncertainty of the present moment does not derive primarily from President Trump’s supposed disregard for the fundamentals of the liberal international order. On the contrary, the uncertainty arises from a growing awareness of the disconnect between the instrumental policies of that order and its overriding purpose. In restoring a sense of the core objectives behind the LIO’s institutions, Trump actually shows a greater regard for it. These institutions will survive only if prudently amended to serve their essential purposes and meet their members’ needs.

Trump’s campaign was driven by the basic awareness of ordinary citizens that American peace, prestige, and prosperity were not being served by our foreign policy. Among the many reasons to be hopeful about President Trump’s foreign policy is that he seems to understand that correcting the errors of the neo-interventionists does not require adopting those of the paleo-isolationists.

While orienting foreign policy around American peace, prestige, and prosperity still leaves room for disagreements in policy formation, focusing on the ends rather than the means marks a dramatic change in the way our diplomats see things. The quicker we make that change, the quicker we will find clarity in strengthening the institutions that make the American people safe, respected, and wealthy—and the quicker we can reform those that do not.

This article originally appeared in American Affairs Volume I, Number 1 (Spring 2017): 113–25.

Also see:

US-Russian steps vs Iran await new NSC chief

flynnout_eng
DEBKAfile, February 14, 2016

Michael Flynn’s abrupt resignation as National Security Adviser Monday night, Feb. 13, was a crippling blow to Donald Trump’s foreign policy strategy, less than a month after he entered the White House. Flynn was the architect and prime mover of the president’s plans for close cooperation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He was brought down by misinforming Vice President Mike Pence – and very likely the president too – on the content of the conversation he held with the Russian ambassador before Trump’s inauguration.

Although retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg takes over as acting NSA, the White House is urgently considering a permanent replacement to fill Flynn’s large shoes. Former CIA Director David Petraeus’ name has come up, but his indiscretions over state secrets still count against him. Vice Admiral Robert Harward, a former Navy SEAL, is a strong contender, although more may emerge.

Even before picking his next national security adviser, Trump will need to determine how to proceed with his détente with Putin, the highly sensitive details of which were managed personally and confidentially by Mike Flynn as the centerpiece of the new administration’s foreign policy.

His contacts with Moscow were under heavy fire from the president’s friends and foes alike, both before and after the November election. It was defended stalwartly by Trump himself, Pence and Flynn. However, neither the president nor the vice president can tell exactly what Flynn promised the Russians and to what deals he committed them. Therefore, his successor will be required to start building Washington’s ties with Moscow from scratch.

While Flynn’s departure has caused havoc in the Trump administration, it is a catastrophe for the Middle East, because a core objective of the US-Russian partnership, which he shaped as a model for other regions, was to have been to clip Iran’s wings and cut down its standing down as premier Middle East power conferred by Barack Obama.

(How the Flynn mechanism was to work plus detailed analysis of the fallout from his departure will be covered exclusively in the coming issue of DEBKA Weekly out next Friday).

Flynn alone was privy to arrangements concluded with Saudi King Salman in Riyadh, Jordan’s King Abdullah in Amman, President Putin in Moscow, Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisis in Cairo and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

Some of his output began taking shape on the day he stepped down, when Syrian rebel groups led by Jordanian special operations officers attacked Syrian army positions in the southern town of Daraa. This was the start of an operation to drive Syrian government forces and their Iranian and Hizballah allies from the lands bordering on Jordan and Israel.

In Cairo, too, President Michel Aoun of Lebanon and his host, El-Sisi were hashing out a plan for the Egyptian army and Gulf forces to go into action against Hizballah in Syria and Lebanon.
Wednesday, Feb. 15, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is to visit the White House for his first meeting with Trump as president. They too were scheduled to discuss US operations against Hizballah and the role Israel would play.

In the coming hours, Trump will have to decide whether to go ahead with these initiatives in the absence of Flynn and his detailed knowledge of how they should go forward, or simply put them on hold until his successor is in place and has time for a full study of their complicated ins and outs. At the same time, a different national security adviser in the White house might have different plans to those laid out by his predecessor.

How America must fight the jihadists in the cyberspace

world-map-networkConservative Review, by Benjamin Weingarten, February 10, 2017:

As the Trump administration reorients America’s national security and foreign policy towards the global jihadist threat, it is imperative that it take the fight to the enemy in every dimension: Land, air, sea, space, economic/financial and cyber.

In the last area, President Trump is reportedly pursuing an executive order to review our nation’s cybersecurity measures.

A disturbing investigative report published by the Associated Press (AP) on the Pentagon’s “WebOps” program suggests that our offensive cyber programs are in need of review as well.

The purported purpose of the Obama administration-initiated WebOps program was to stop prospective jihadis from joining the Islamic State through online counterpropaganda.

In practice, the program looks like a boondoggle.

According to the AP’s investigation, WebOps is plagued by among other things:

  • Gross incompetence in the form of operators engaging with would-be jihadis who have limited fluency in Arabic language, relevant cultural and historical knowledge, or expertise in jihadist groups, let alone Islamic theology;
  • Inability and unwillingness to honestly measure success as operators are scored based upon whether the subjects with whom they engage subsequently reflect “militant views or a more tolerant outlook,” which is of course inherently subjective.  Scoring teams were reportedly encouraged “to indicate progress against radicalism in their scoring reports even if they were not making any”;
  • “Grade inflation” as operators are in-part judged on the number of engagements they have with potential jihadis — figures that are manipulated by blasting out automated tweets to mass numbers of individuals; and
  • Minimal oversight as the firm hired to provide the operators was also scoring their work.

The AP asserts that there is a new $500 million contract for a five-year counterpropaganda program to be run in parallel with WebOps that has drawn allegations of potential corruption with respect to favoritism/conflicts of interest in the bidding process.

Reportedly, the contractor who runs the WebOps operation may be subcontracted on this parallel project, thereby keeping WebOps running for up to five more years.

The Washington Post describes another cyberwarfare counterpropaganda effort that appears more effective on its face.

The program, interestingly run by former Navy SEAL Michael Lumpkin —  who was previously tabbed by then-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to facilitate the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl —  targets Facebook ads towards those identified as potential recruits to Islamic State. Such messages are delivered in Arabic and supposedly better tailored towards the would-be jihadis.

The ads “offer a harrowing view of life inside the self-proclaimed caliphate, sometimes with photos or cartoons and often in the words of refugees and defectors who warn others to stay away.”

The program seeks to more accurately measure effectiveness than WebOps apparently:

Each day, the team monitors the responses to different variations of the ads in real time, measuring how often each is viewed and for how long. Lumpkin discovered quickly that the appeal of different messages varied from one region to another. In locales with strong tribal traditions, appeals to family and duty seem to resonate. In others, it’s the testimony of defectors, supplied mostly by partner agencies. Their disillusionment reveals “the true nature of ISIL,” including harsh conditions that the group’s propaganda videos never talk about, Lumpkin said.

Of course, as Lumpkin acknowledges, as with the WebOps program, success is difficult to measure. Islamic State recruitment rates are falling, but Lumpkin cannot prove a link between his program and the reality on the ground.

An all-of-the-above counterjihadist effort makes eminent sense.

But programs such as these beg certain questions:

  • Are these programs based on a clear understanding of the enemy?
  • Are the people carrying out the programs competent?
  • Can we define success?
  • Is there any empirical evidence that suggest such programs have been successful in countering jihadism historically?
  • Do these programs represent the highest and best use of taxpayer dollars?

During the Cold War, we fought an ideological enemy in the Communists to great effect in part through propaganda delivered via radio, literature, and other means, challenging their totalitarian ideology, while illustrating that it was a failure and highlighting the blessings of freedom.

We conducted this ideological battle on the enemy’s own terms.

In the case of the jihadists, the enemy’s ideology is not based on a view of economics or history, but rather on faith.

Seeking to dissuade an enemy because of the horrific things Islamic State may do surely appeals to Westerners, but does it to the people Islamic State is seeking to recruit? In the Middle East, there is almost unanimous support according to Pew polls for making Sharia the law of the land. The Islamic State has built a caliphate ostensibly based on pure Sharia. Do we believe that Western messaging efforts are going to be able to compete with the Koran and hadith?

Generally speaking, as during the Cold War, information warfare is about demoralizing the enemy. Lauding liberty, and showing thriving Western life demoralized Communists. Jihadists alternatively view our infidel society as a decadent and corrupt affront to Islam.

One prospective way to demoralize them however is to show that we are stronger than them, and can dominate them wherever they seek to confront us. The strong horse is historically most respected in Islam-based nations.

Another initiative we can undertake —  in the private sector rather than through government —  is to lift up the voices of brave apostates and genuine anti-Sharia reformers. They will have more credibility than any Westerner seeking to dissuade Sharia supremacism, although we cannot know how effective such efforts will be. Apostasy is punishable by death, and challenging core religious tenets is likely to be met with substantial resistance.

Taxpayer dollars in the cyberspace might be far more effectively spent spreading disinformation meant to confuse the enemy on social media, infiltrating their information networks to obtain intelligence and thwart nefarious activities, and hacking and causing irreparable damage to their systems.

As the Middle East Media Research Institute writes:

The…Trump administration will have to deal with jihadis’ increased use of encrypted apps, Snapchat, and whatever social media emerge next. Many of his cabinet picks were asked about encryption during their confirmation hearings. If it does not move swiftly, the progress made over the past year on this issue may be lost; jihadis have shown great persistence in continually identifying and exploiting the weaknesses of these platforms, as well as constantly moving to new technologies and staying two steps ahead of Western security agencies.

Today’s generation of Internet-savvy millennial jihadis has infested U.S.-based social media platforms, relying on apps purchased from Google and Apple stores. They use them not only to disseminate their messages but also to recruit skilled individuals to hack websites, spread viruses, and carry out other cybercrimes.

…Right now, every single jihadi organization has an online presence, and every one of them is likewise investing tremendous resources in its cyber activity. These cyber-jihadis, led by ISIS, are swelling in number in the U.S., the West, and worldwide, and they are becoming more sophisticated by the day.

We must compete in cyberwarfare with the jihadis, but doing so requires knowing ourselves and knowing our enemy.

All efforts to do so must be oriented to the jihadist threat.

Programs in which success is not only highly uncertain but likely unquantifiable deserve the utmost scrutiny.

Precious resources —  whether in terms of dollars, people or technology —  ought to be invested wisely.

The American citizens deserve nothing less when it comes to ensuring their safety and security.

Ben Weingarten is Founder & CEO of ChangeUp Media LLC, a media consulting and publication services firm. A graduate of Columbia University, he regularly contributes to publications such as City Journal, The Federalist, Newsmax and PJ Media on national security/defense, economics and politics. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter. 

The Trump Way of Winning the War

The PLO is disoriented, panicked and hysterical. Speaking to Newsweek this week, Saeb Erekat, PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas’s chief conduit to Israel and the Americans, complained that since President Donald Trump was sworn into office, no administration official had spoken to them.

“I don’t know any of them [Trump’s advisers]. We have sent them letters, written messages. They don’t even bother to respond to us.”

The Trump administration’s shunning of the PLO is a marked departure from the policies of its predecessor. For former president Barack Obama, together with Iran, the Palestinians were viewed as the key players in the Middle East. Abbas was the first foreign leader Obama called after taking office.

Erekat’s statement reveals something that is generally obscured. Despite its deep support in Europe, the UN and the international Left, without US support, the PLO is irrelevant.

All the achievements the PLO racked up under Obama – topped off with the former president’s facilitation of UN Security Council Resolution 2334 against Israel – are suddenly irrelevant. Their impact dissipated the minute Trump took office.

Israel, in contrast, is more relevant than ever.

While Trump occasionally pays lip service to making peace in the Middle East, his real goal is to win the war against jihadist Islam. And he rightly views Israel as a woefully underutilized strategic ally that shares his goal and is well-placed to help him achieve it.

During the electoral campaign, Trump often spoke derisively of Obama’s nuclear pact with Tehran. And he repeatedly promised to eradicate Islamic State. But when asked to explain what he intended to do on these scores, Trump demurred. You don’t expect me to let the enemy know my plan, do you?

Trump’s critics dismissed his statements as empty talk. But since he came into office, each day signals that he does have a plan and that he is implementing it. The plan coming into focus involves a multidimensional campaign that if successful will both neutralize Iran as a strategic threat and obliterate ISIS.

Regarding Iran specifically, Trump’s moves to date involve operations on three levels. First, there is the rhetorical campaign to distinguish the Trump administration from its successor.

Trump launched the campaign on Twitter on Wednesday writing, “Iran is rapidly taking over more and more of Iraq even after the US has squandered three trillion dollars there.”

Shortly before his post, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider Abadi appointed Iranian proxy Qasim al Araji to serve as his interior minister.

At a minimum, Trump’s statement signaled an abandonment of Obama’s policy of cooperating with Iranian forces and Iranian-controlled Iraqi forces in the fight against ISIS in Iraq.

At around the same time Trump released his tweet about Iranian control of Iraq, his National Security Adviser Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Michael Flynn took a knife to Obama’s obsequious stand on Iran during a press briefing at the White House.

While Trump’s statement related to Iran’s growing power in Iraq, Flynn’s remarks were directed against its nonconventional threat and its regional aggression. Both were on display earlier this week.

On Sunday, Iran carried out its 12th ballistic missile test since concluding its nuclear deal with Obama, and its first since Trump took office.

On Monday, Iranian-controlled Houthi forces in Yemen attacked a Saudi ship in the Bab al-Mandab choke point connecting the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean.

Flynn condemned both noting that they threatened the US and its allies and destabilized the Middle East. The missile test, he said, violated UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that anchored the nuclear deal.

Flynn then took a step further. He drew a sharp contrast between the Obama administration’s responses to Tehran’s behavior and the Trump administration’s views of Tehran’s provocative actions.

“The Obama administration failed to respond adequately to Tehran’s malign actions – including weapons transfers, support for terrorism, and other violations of international norms,” he noted.

“The Trump administration condemns such actions by Iran that undermine security, prosperity and stability throughout and beyond the Middle East and place American lives at risk.”

Flynn ended his remarks by threatening Iran directly.

“As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice,” he warned.

While Flynn gave no details of what the US intends to do to Iran if it continues its aggressive behavior, the day before he made his statement, the US opened a major, multilateral, British-led naval exercise in the Persian Gulf. US naval forces in the region have been significantly strengthened since January 20 and rules of engagement for US forces in the Persian Gulf have reportedly been relaxed.

Perhaps the most potent aspect of Trump’s emerging strategy for defeating the forces of jihad is the one that hasn’t been discussed but it was signaled, through a proxy, the day after Trump took office.

On January 21, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a remarkable message to the Iranian people on his Facebook page. Netanyahu drew a sharp distinction between the “warm” Iranian people and the “repressive” regime.

Netanyahu opened his remarks by invoking the new administration.

“I plan to speak soon with President Trump about how to counter the threat of the Iranian regime, which calls for Israel’s destruction,” the prime minister explained.

“But it struck me recently that I’ve spoken a lot about the Iranian regime and not enough about the Iranian people, or for that matter, to the Iranian people. So I hope this message reaches every Iranian.”

Netanyahu paid homage to the Green Revolution of 2009 that was brutally repressed by the regime. In his words, “I’ll never forget the images of proud, young students eager for change gunned down in the streets of Tehran in 2009.”

Netanyahu’s statement was doubtlessly coordinated with the new administration. It signaled that destabilizing with the goal of overthrowing the regime in Tehran is a major component of Trump’s strategy.

By the looks of things in Iran, regime opponents are taking heart from the new tone emanating from Washington. Iranian dissidents have asked for a meeting with Trump’s team. And a week and a half before Trump’s inauguration, regime opponents staged a massive anti-regime protest.

Protesters used the public funeral of former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to denounce the regime. In 2009, Rafsanjani sided with many of the Green Movement’s positions. His daughter was a leader of the protests.

Among the estimated 2.5 million people who attended the funeral, scores of thousands interrupted the official eulogies to condemn the regime, condemn the war with Syria and condemn the regime’s Russian allies.

This then brings us to Syria, where the war against ISIS and the campaign against Iran are set to converge. To date, Trump has limited his stated goals in Syria to setting up safe zones inside the country where displaced Syrians can live securely. Saudi Arabia and the Emirates have agreed to cooperate in these efforts.

Trump is now engaged in a talks with the Kremlin both above and below the radar about the possibility of coordinating their operations in Syria to enable safe zones to be established.

It is fairly clear what the US objective here would be. The US wishes to convince Moscow to effectively end its alliance with the Iranian regime. Trump repeatedly stated that the entire spectrum of US-Russian relations is now in play. Talks between the two governments will encompass Ukraine, US economic sanctions on Russia, nuclear weapons, Russian bases in Syria and Russia’s alliance with Iran and its Hezbollah proxies.

Everything is on the table.

Trump understands that Russia is threatened by Sunni jihadists and that Russia views Iran as a counterweight to ISIS and its counterparts in the Caucasus. A deal between the US and Russia could involve a Russian agreement to end its support for Iran and Hezbollah in exchange for US acceptance of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, cancellation of sanctions and perhaps some form of acquiescence to Russia’s military presence in Syria.

Russia and the US could then collaborate with Arab states with Israeli support to defeat ISIS and end the Syrian refugee crisis.

Combined with actions the Trump administration is already taking in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea, and its telegraphed aim of backing a popular Iranian insurrection, Trump’s hypothetical deal with Russia would neutralize Iran as a conventional and nonconventional threat.

This then brings us back to Israel – the first target of Iran’s aggression. If Trump’s strategy is successful, then the PLO will not be Israel’s only foe that is rendered irrelevant.

Earlier this week it was reported that in the two-and-a-half years since the last war with Hamas, the Iranian-backed, Muslim Brotherhood-affiliate terrorist group has rebuilt its forces. Today Hamas fields assets and troops that match the capabilities it fielded during Operation Protective Edge.

Hezbollah, with its effective control over Lebanon, including the Lebanese military, is a strategic threat to Israel.

To date, Israel has demurred from targeting Hezbollah and Hamas missile arsenals, but not because it is incapable of destroying them. Israel’s efforts to avoid conflict with its enemies, even at the price of their rearmament, also haven’t stemmed from fear of European or UN condemnation or even from fear of the so-called “CNN-effect.”

Israel has chosen not to defeat its enemies – not to mention the EU-backed NGOs that whitewash them – because the Americans have supported them.

The Clinton administration barred Israel from taking decisive action against either Hezbollah or the Palestinians.

The Bush administration forced Israel to stand down during the war with Hezbollah in 2006.

The Obama administration effectively sided with Hamas against Israel in 2014.

In other words, across three administrations, the Americans made it impossible for Israel to take decisive military action against its enemies.

Under Obama, the US also derailed every Israeli attempt to curb the power of EU-funded subversive organizations operating from inside of Israel.

Trump’s emerging strategy on Iran and ISIS, together with his refusal to operate in accordance with the standard US playbook on the Palestinians, indicates that the US has abandoned this practice. Under Trump, Israel is free to defeat its enemies. Their most powerful deterrent against Israel – the US – is gone.

Israel has long argued that there is no difference between al-Qaida and Hamas or between ISIS and Hezbollah. It has also argued that Iran threatens not only Israel but the world as a whole. Hoping to co-opt the forces of jihad rather than defeat them, successive US administrations have chosen to deny this obvious truth.

Unlike his predecessors, Trump is serious about winning. To do so, he is even willing to take the radical step of accepting Israel as an ally.

The PLO is right to be hysterical.

***

Also see:

Report: Trump to Announce U.S. Embassy Move to Jerusalem Monday

THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images

THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images

Breitbart, byJoel B. Pollak, Jnuary 22, 2017:

Numerous unconfirmed reports are circulating in the international media that President Donald Trump intends announcing Monday that he will relocate the U.S. embassy to Israel from the coastal city of Tel Aviv to the capital city of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem has been Israel’s capital city since its founding in 1948, but most countries have deferred moving the embassy there because the original UN partition plan for the British Mandate proposed Jerusalem as a city under international sovereignty.

Jordan, the Palestinians, and all surrounding Arab nations rejected the UN plan, and the Jordanian army took over the eastern half of Jerusalem in 1948, expelling the Jewish inhabitants of the Old City, where Jews had lived for several millennia.

With that part of the UN plan effectively rejected by Jordan and the Arab world, Israel established its capital in western Jerusalem. Though Palestinians, in theory, claim all of Jerusalem for themselves, the part of Jerusalem west of the 1949 armistice line (the “1967 lines,” or the “Green Line”) will unquestionably remain part of Israel in any peace agreement.

The core of the Arab and Muslim rejection of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a rejection of Jewish claims to religious and historical connection to the city itself. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat once turned down an offer of shared sovereignty over the Temple Mount because, as he told then-President Bill Clinton, he saw the Jewish claim to the holy site as fictitious.

In 1995, Congress mandated that the U.S. move the embassy to Israel through the Jerusalem Embassy Act. The law, however, contained a waiver that allowed the president to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv, acknowledging the supremacy of the executive in determining the foreign policy of the U.S. Trump’s pledge on Monday — if it comes to fruition — would decline that waiver.

Opponents of the decision to move the embassy have warned that it would set off violence in the Arab world. But it would also inspire joyful celebrations in Israel and around the world, as the U.S. would likely inspire other countries to follow its example, and would help Israel cement its national vision of “a free nation in our land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem.”

At the inaugural ceremony itself, Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles stressed the themes of Zion and Jerusalem, quoting from Psalm 137:5: “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill.”

President Trump was scheduled to speak to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netnayhu by telephone on Sunday afternoon.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

Before and After Obama: 10 Signs of a Diminished America

TIM SLOAN, Anthony Behar-Pool/Getty Images

TIM SLOAN, Anthony Behar-Pool/Getty Images

Breitbart, by John  Hayward, January 18, 2017:

The media acted as if Donald Trump’s campaign slogan of “Make America Great Again” was an incomprehensible emotional outburst from people who didn’t realize, or wouldn’t accept, just how great Barack Obama was. President Obama has spent his final months in office giving juvenile speeches full of excuses for why nothing bad since 2009 was his fault, while everything good was his personal handiwork. Why, if you just ignore all the terrorist attacks that happened on American soil over the past eight years, you can believe his carefully-phrased assertion that there haven’t been any terrorist attacks!

In truth, everyone paying attention could see the signs of a diminished America, and they knew exactly what Trump was talking about. A new Gallup poll finds that American believe the country slid backwards in 14 out of 19 policy domains, with the worst deterioration in the national debt, crime, income inequality, and race relations.

The four areas of improvement Gallup found were in the situation for gays and lesbians (Obama’s only truly high mark), energy (which got better despite his policy preferences, thanks to the private sector), climate change (whose partisans scream that it’s getting worse!) and the economy. “Health care” was a complete wash, which is awful, given the amount of money Obama spent on it.

The new administration has its work cut out for it to repair the damage caused by eight years of Obama’s policies in the following ten key areas.

1. Terrorism: Let’s start with terrorism, since Obama has made such a fetish of implying it’s not worse, even though his heavily-lawyered denials merely claim that a highly specific and unusually organized sort of attack hasn’t been taking place. In essence, Obama wants congratulations because the Islamic State hasn’t marched an army across the Rio Grande and sacked San Antonio, or sent a squad of terrorists to take out a shopping mall with signed, dated, notarized orders from Raqqa in their pockets.

Obama’s factoid about zero “foreign-directed terror attacks” is based on the highly contentious notion that soldiers of Allah (even the one who had “Soldier of Allah” printed on his business card, Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hassan) aren’t truly operatives of ISIS or al-Qaeda because they weren’t in constant two-way communication with the terrorist high command. (In Hassan’s case, even that weak excuse falls apart, because he was in touch with jihadi guru Anwar al-Awlaki.)

In truth, the number and frequency of deadly terrorist attacks on U.S. soil grew substantially worse under Obama. The raw number of fatalities under his predecessor, of course, is distorted by the horrific carnage of 9/11.

No one knew what a “lone wolf” terrorist was until Obama came along. The departing President seems to think “lone wolves” are less of a problem than big-ticket, carefully-planned professional atrocities like 9/11… but that’s the exact opposite of what his own intelligence community says. They’re warning that isolated extremists using the Internet to connect with global terrorist ideologies are difficult to spot in advance, and our resources are stretched to the breaking point keeping tabs on them.

The situation worldwide is even worse, with the number of annual terrorist deaths increasing over 400 percent since Obama took office. ISIS happened on Obama’s watch, while al-Qaeda and the Taliban are resurgent. The hellish mess he made of Syria will threaten the security of Western nations for years to come.

2. Cybersecurity: It should be clear by now that information security was, at most, a political annoyance to Barack Obama. His primary concern was controlling the public-relations fallout — keeping cybersecurity disasters off the media radar, because they made his administration look bad. Who can forget how the administration lied about the extent of the Office of Personnel Management data breach, leaving millions of victims vulnerable, while it scrambled to contain the P.R. damage? And remember, the intruders had been creeping around that gigantic, vital government database for a year.

The one-two sucker punch of Obama going nuclear over the menace of Russian hacking and WikiLeaks to delegitimize the 2016 election, and then springing alpha WikiLeaker Chelsea Manning from jail three decades early, should cement his careless and destructive infosec legacy forever — as if supporting his former Secretary of State’s presidential run after she trashed security protocols with reckless abandon wasn’t bad enough.

Obama apologists will say the Internet has become a bigger part of our lives over the past eight years, so it’s natural there would be more information-security controversies.The problem with that excuse is that the big cybersecurity disaster headlines were so often traced directly to administration policies — the OPM hack, the Clinton email scandal, the NSA/Edward Snowden controversy, software vulnerabilities kept secret by the government so it could exploit them, and others. The risky handover of Internet domain control to international control was Obama’s brainstorm.

Not every infosec threat since 2009 is his fault, but the gap between the rhetoric in his speeches and the way he coped with actual cyber disasters is. So is the way online adversaries have been emboldened by his failure to take action against them. We can’t even turn on our smartphones without worrying about Chinese spyware.

“On Obama’s watch, the State Department was hacked, the White House was hacked, the Department of Energy was hacked, and the National Nuclear Security Administration was hacked. A Government Accountability Office report found that cyberattacks against government agencies climbed 35% between 2010 and 2013,” noted Investor’s Business Daily in a November 2016 review of how cybersecurity grew worse under Obama.

IBD went on to quote an Inspector General report that OPM’s cybersecurity situation actually got worse after the attack, in keeping with the Obama tradition of talking big and doing little. His most comprehensive cybersecurity plan was rolled out in April of his last year in office, in an obvious example of passing the buck to his successor.

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Clinton and Trump offer diverse ME scenarios

foreign-policy

DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis November 1, 2016:

Whoever is elected US president on Nov. 8, he or she will land in the middle of a foreign policy shambles and face a pressing need to rebuild America’s fences in most parts of the world, including the war-ridden, messy Middle East. The Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and her Republican rival Donald Trump, whose approaches are so different in every respect, will both find it impossible to isolate America from the Middle East

DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence experts postulate divergent developments in response to the alternative results of the Nov. 8 presidential election, depending on the winner.

If it is Hillary Clinton, then –

  • Russia will deepen its expansion in the region, including in Syria and Iraq. The Russian naval units speeding to the Mediterranean at this moment are part of Moscow’s ramped up deployment in readiness for Clinton’s entry to the White House.
  • Vladimir Putin will not forgive the Democratic candidate in a hurry for her anti-Russian campaign gimmicks of depicting Donald Trump as his friend and alleging that Russian intelligence hacked DNC emails to turn the race against her.
    The Russian leader is not the forgiving sort when it comes to his reputation – and still less so when Russian intelligence, his alma mater, is impugned.
  • The high tensions expected to prevail between the Kremlin and the Clinton White House may well ignite a limited military conflagration between US and Russian forces in the Middle East.
  • Syrian rebels are counting on Clinton giving them arms and funds – in contrast to Barack Obama, and are therefore tenaciously holding out, despite their inferior resources against Russian-backed Syrian and pro-Iranian forces. They see her focusing on Bashar Assad’s ouster and, even more, on empowering the rebels to hamper Russia’s military designs in Syria. In this, she will find support from her friends in the Gulf emirates. The Syrian opposition believes that the sharper the tensions between Washington and Moscow, the better for their cause.
  • Clinton has a dilemma with regard to Iran. As co-author of the nuclear deal, she will also try to improve relations with Tehran. But by doing so, she risks alienating her friends, the Arab Gulf leaders.
  • She will soon discover that Iran’s rulers and military chiefs have no wish to cozy up to Washington, certainly not at the expense of their highly profitable ties with Moscow and Beijing.
  •  Clinton will no doubt try to repair the damage to US relations with Israel that piled up during Obama’s term of office.

If it is Donald Trump, then –

  • He will go for a US-Russian summit with Vladimir Putin to lay out a new world power order for the distribution of spheres of influence in different world regions, including the Middle East. He may make the summit trilateral by inviting Xi Jinping of China.
  • This summit will also seek economic understandings, a prospect which is already unnerving international markets. Trump will ask the Russian and Chinese leaders to share wholly or partly in the plans he put before the voter for strengthening the American economy.
  • The Republican candidate has said repeatedly that he would be glad to leave the war on ISIS in the Middle East to Putin and Tehran. In any case, his military advisers, led by Ret. Army Gen. Mike Flynn, perceive Moscow as already in control of the current military situation in consequence of Obama’s policies.
  • This policy however will put the Trump administration at odds with the Arab world, the Gulf emirates and Israel, all of which fear Iran’s continued drive for expansion across the Middle East under a supportive Russian umbrella.
  • He may try to compensate for this lack of equilibrium by taking a strong line against Tehran – even revoking the nuclear deal, which the outgoing president saw as his crowning foreign policy achievement. This could spark a US-Iranian showdown in the Gulf region. On the other hand, Iran is perfectly capable of dumping the nuclear accord on its own initiative.
  • During Trump’s first year as president, the traditional US-Saudi partnership for political, military and economic policies may start crumbling – especial on oil pricing. This alliance between the royal house of Saud and the US dates from the first encounter between President Franklin Roosevelt and King Ibn Saud 71 years ago. DEBKAfile’s Saudi experts estimate that after some initial rough patches, Donald Trump and King Salman will be able to find common ground and so put relations on a firmer footing than before. This would repair the discord with Riyadh engendered by the Obama administration and during Clinton’s term as Secretary of State.
  • Trump will endeavor to improve ties with Israel. In so doing, he will try and contain Binyamin Netanyahu’s ongoing understandings with Putin on the Middle East.

Did Russian’s Half A Million To Her Advisor Influence Hillary On Iran?

hillary

Americans need to know whether Hillary Clinton and Thomas Pickering put America’s interests first, or those of Russia and Iran.

The Federalist, by Christine Brim, October 27, 2016:

The Clinton campaign has been complaining bitterly about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s possible ties to WikiLeaks’ daily dumps of campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails. My new investigative report, “Clinton’s Shadow Diplomat: Thomas Pickering and Russia’s Pipeline Sales to Iran and Syria, exposes Hillary Clinton’s own damaging ties to Russia and Iran while she was secretary of State. Her Foreign Affairs Policy Advisor Thomas Pickering was a paid director for the Russian company Trubnaya Metallurgicheskaya Kompaniya (TMK) from June 30, 2009 to June 26, 2012. TMK is majority-owned by Russian billionaire oligarch Dmitry Pumpyansky, a close Putin ally.

I discovered extensive proof of TMK’s business dealings in Iran and Syria while Pickering was on its board, including TMK sales of oil and gas pipelines to Iran that were specifically prohibited under U.S. laws and executive orders. Pickering was deeply involved with TMK. According to TMK records, he attended 143 of the 145 board meetings. Pickering is estimated to have been paid more than half a million dollars for his service to TMK from 2009 to 2012, based on TMK’s compensation rules. He has since claimed to have donated it all to an unnamed charity.

Clinton’s, President Obama’s, and Pickering’s interests converged during the time Pickering was on TMK’s board of directors. Clinton had announced the Russian “reset” in March 2009; Obama pleaded with Iran for a new beginning two weeks later; and Pickering joined TMK, which was publicizing its sales to Iran and Syria in numerous documents, in June of that year.

Yes, We Sell to Countries Americans Sanction

Pickering combined his commercial, nonprofit, and policy roles into a seamless whole, all with the common goal of ending economic sanctions against Iran and reversing U.S. Iran policies. He was Clinton’s foreign affairs policy advisor and email correspondent, a board member for two Iranian advocacy groups, a paid consultant to Boeing (now a $25 billion Iranian aircraft contractor, thanks to Pickering’s advocacy), a well-known “behind-the-scenes” negotiator with Iranian representatives, and a paid director for a Russian company—TMK—that was actively exporting pipelines to Iran and Syria.

TMK’s customers and sales were not secret. In marketing materials, legal documents, a tenth anniversary PowerPoint presentation, catalogs, and webpages, TMK openly stated it had “major” and “main” pipeline customers in Iran and Syria. Iranian customer websites named TMK as a vendor. Steelorbis.com, an online steel industry newsletter, published six different reports from 2009 to 2013 listing specific prices for TMK pipes delivered to an Iranian port. Here’s just one example, an excerpt from the February 18, 2011 article published when Pickering was a TMK director:

brim1

In a February 5, 2010 $412,500,000 convertible bond offering circular issued by its financing subsidiary TMK Bonds S.A, TMK even formally disclosed that it was selling to Iran and Syria, stating “As a globally operating organization, we also conduct business with customers in Iran and Syria. The U.S. Department of State designates these countries as state sponsors of terrorism and subjects them to export controls.”

TMK’s U.S. division, TMK IPSCO, has plants in Pennsylvania, Texas, Arkansas, Ohio, Iowa, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Kentucky. TMK pledged its U.S. assets as guarantors for international financing in at least two offers. Several executive orders on Iranian economic sanctions prohibit “any approval, financing, facilitation, or guarantee by a United States person, wherever located, of a transaction by a foreign person [company].”

Were Pickering’s Iran Dealings Illegal?

The Iranian ebusiness website pipeiran.com listed the Khatam-al Anbiya as a client and TMK’s Volzhsky Pipe Plant and TMK’s Romanian Division as vendors. Khatam-al Anbiya is the engineering and construction firm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). On October 21, Adam Szubin, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, stated “You cannot do business with IRGC companies….If you do, and you’re doing so knowingly, you are risking the most draconian sanctions in our toolkit, and that governs not just U.S. persons but actors all around the world.”

TMK’s customers in Iran were government-owned companies, and so were the ones in Syria. TMK’s three Iranian customers during the years Pickering served on the board were all listed by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) as “Specially Designated Nationals”: the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), Petropars, and Pars Oil and Gas Company. U.S. persons are generally prohibited from conducting any kind of business with “Specially Designated Nationals.”

Similarly, TMK’s three Syrian customers were listed by OFAC as “Specially Designated Nationals” in 2011, while Pickering was on the Board: the Syrian Gas Company, the Syrian Petroleum Company, and the Al Furat Petroleum Company.

Pickering apparently did not disclose his links to TMK and TMK’s sales to Iran when he testified on Iran before Sen. John Kerry’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 28, 2012 while he was still a TMK director. That information might have been relevant (though it wasn’t legally required) for Kerry’s committee, since in his testimony Pickering recommended that, in return for hypothetical limits on Iran’s nuclear program:

Some freezing or easing of sanctions might be a fair quid pro quo for such steps… It would also help if we begin to consider freezing or relaxing the imposition of some sanctions in return for real progress in making their nuclear program more open and more fully inspected and in improving relations with Iran in other areas …My recommendation is that we now take the sanctions pressure and turn it into a useful diplomatic tool to begin serious diplomatic negotiations with Iran.

It Sure Pays to Work in Government

Emails released from Clinton’s private server show that Pickering was emailing, meeting, and coordinating foreign travel with Clinton and her staff from the beginning of her time as secretary of State and arguing for an end to economic sanctions on Iran all during the same years he was on TMK’s board of directors. Starting in December 2011, he also served in official capacity on Clinton’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board. Clinton appointed Pickering chairman for the Benghazi Accountability Review Board three months after he left TMK.

There’s much more in the investigative report “Clinton’s Shadow Diplomat” on these dangerous liaisons between Clinton and Pickering, and Russia’s pipeline sales to Iran and Syria. The bottom line for the American public and policymakers is this: Did Hillary Clinton and Thomas Pickering put America’s interests first, or those of Russia and Iran?

Pickering’s actions with Hillary Clinton, TMK, various Iranian groups, Boeing and all the rest were not an exception to how Washington insiders operate. Pickering’s actions were an exceptionally well-crafted version of what insiders do every day, and not just in Washington—in Moscow and Tehran, too. Some are just better at it, and Pickering is one of the best. Washington insiders don’t want to blow the whistle on Pickering. They want to be Pickering. And some of them are worse.

Christine Brim is a founder of Paratos LLC, a risk communications consultancy. Previously she served at the Center for Security Policy as a vice president and chief operating officer.

The refugee and asylum crisis: “Vetted” Iraqi refugee pleads guilty to supporting ISIS

Alessandro Rota | AP Photo

Alessandro Rota | AP Photo

Conservative Review, by Daniel Horowitz, October 21, 2016:

Last month, Francis Taylor, the DHS Under Secretary of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, told the House Committee on Homeland Security that “refugees are subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to the United States.” Well, earlier this week, an Iraqi refugee plead guilty in federal court on charges of attempting to give material support to the Islamic State. If one man can evade the “highest level of security checks,” time will only tell how many others pose a security risk.

In January, Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, 24, who was brought here as a refugee in 2009, was arrested in Houston on charges of attempting to provide material support to ISIS. According to the plea agreement in court this week, Al Hardan wanted to blow up two malls in the Houston area. “I want to blow myself up. I want to travel with the Mujahidin. I want to travel to be with those who are against America. I am against America,” said Al Hardan, according to the local CBS affiliate. According to the FBI special agent involved in the case, Al Hardan was working with another Iraqi refugee, Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab, 23, who was brought in as a refugee in October 2012 and just 13 months later allegedly flew to Syria to fight for terror groups in the warn-torn country. Al-Jayab is in jail in Chicago awaiting trial.

That is some vetting system we have in place. Al-Jayab allegedly wrote to a friend last year that “America will not isolate me from my Islamic duty.” But rest easy, we are promised that the over 150,000 Muslim immigrants we will bring in this year alone will easily assimilate into American culture.

According to the State Department’s refugee database, America has admitted roughly 135,000 Iraqi refugees since FY 2008 — with no sign of the pace abating. Ever since Congress gave Obama a blank check for his refugee increase last month, Obama has already accelerated the pace of Syrian refugees on top of the existing flow of Iraqi refugees. The reality is that even if the administration had a solid vetting system in place — which they don’t — there is no way to vet a mentality within Sharia law. How many more of these individuals subscribe to the mindset of “America will not isolate me from my Islamic duty?” And this is not even a belief the administration cares to weed out through social media.

What is evidenced from this case in Houston is that it doesn’t take many bad apples to wreak havoc on our homeland. Al Hardan taught himself how to make bombs and use automatic weapons, all for the purpose of large-scale attacks .

In addition to the gaping security hole in our refugee program, Obama’s other legacy has been the destruction of the even more perilous asylum process. While refugees are processed overseas, asylum seekers are able to show up on our shores and declare a credible fear of persecution even when their claim is specious. A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies shows that applications for asylum seekers have increased ten-fold since 2009! According to Jessica Vaughn, 90 percent of these applications have been approved, even though many of them have traditionally been rejected due to fraud. Yet, thanks to Obama’s illegal executive action granting asylum-seekers parole pending the outcome of their application (which is usually approved), instead of keeping them in custody as the law dictates, our country has become a magnate for asylum seekers. Although most of the asylum seekers are from Central America, there are concerns about Middle Easterners travelling to Central American countries via Greece and applying for asylum there.  The U.S. Southern Command admitted to at least 30,000 “from countries of terrorist concern” crossing over our southern border in 2016.

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Center for Immigration Studies

Between the influx of refugees and asylum seekers, the growing surge on our southern border, the massive and influx of Cubans who are automatically eligible for welfare, who is looking out for the security of Americans? We are entreated to sob stories and highbrow rhetoric about our obligations to the world, but what about the one authentic obligation of the federal government to secure the sovereignty of the people and the states?

Sadly, these are the issues that have gotten overshadowed in the reality TV show of this election. If Hillary wins, it will clearly not be a result of popular support for her immigration policies. Assuming Republicans keep Congress, they can easily block the extension of Obama’s refugee and asylum policies. Unfortunately, as we warned earlier this week, absent a new opposition party, that will never happen, even in the face of a large-scale terror attack on our homeland.