National Security Experts Issue Letter Endorsing Mike Pompeo as the Next U.S. Secretary of State

Center for Security Policy, April 10, 2018:

(Washington, D.C.): Today, 53 national security experts and public practitioners issued a letter to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker and the committee’s Ranking Member Robert Menendez calling on the U.S. Senate for swiftly endorse President Trump’s choice of Mike Pompeo to be the next U.S. Secretary of State.

The letter’s signatories agree that the wide range of urgent national security threats facing our nation today requires an experienced, highly competent national security leader like Mike Pompeo be confirmed as Secretary of State as soon as possible.  With, among other challenges,  growing tensions in Syria, an upcoming summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and an impending decision on the fate of the nuclear deal with Iran, this is no time for the State Department to be without such a skilled professional at its helm.

The signatories also credit Mike Pompeo for his mastery of the multifaceted threat that Donald Trump promised to defeat in his August 15, 2016 address in Youngstown, Ohio.  Both men recognize this particular danger as ideological in nature, which Mr. Trump correctly noted is called “Sharia” by its adherents, who include “Radical Islamic Terrorists” and “the support networks for Radical Islam in this country.”

Mr. Pompeo’s leadership and management skills from his time in the U.S. Army, the private sector, Congress and as CIA Director are exactly what is needed at the State Department, which is suffering from huge numbers of unfilled positions, low morale and lack of direction.

The letter concludes:

Mike Pompeo is the sort of seasoned, accomplished and energetic national security policy practitioner our nation desperately needs at this juncture in the role of Secretary of State to help President Trump secure our nation from all enemies, foreign and domestic. He enjoys our strong endorsement and we respectfully request that the United States Senate express the same by confirming him at the earliest possible moment.

See the letter with signatories

Assad’s Horror, and Those Who Enable It

hoto credit: Muhammed es Sami/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.
Demonstrators draw picture on a wall to describe the poisonous gas attack and protest against the Assad regime’s alleged gas attack on Douma in Syria on April 08, 2018

Russia, Iran, and North Korea all play a role in the Syrian regime’s chemical attacks on its own people.

The Weekly Standard, by Thomas Joscelyn, April 8, 2018:

Horrific images from the aftermath of a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria are once again circulating online. The scene of this gassing is the eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus. Both the location and the timing of this apparent war crime are symbolically important. And while the immediate focus will be on Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and his willingness to gas his own people, any long-term solution will require understanding the role of the rogue states that enable and support him.

It was one year ago, on the morning of April 7, 2017, that the Trump administration launched punitive airstrikes against Assad’s regime at the Shayrat Airfield in response to a Sarin gas attack days earlier. Those targeted bombings were intended to send a message to Assad: Stop using banned weapons of war against your own people. Assad was undeterred.

He had failed to adhere to a previous deal, negotiated by the Obama administration and Russia, that was intended to end his chemical weapons capability. The concord was struck in the aftermath of the August 21, 2013, nerve agent attack on eastern Ghouta–the same suburb hit in the last 24 hours. The U.S. government determined that the Assad regime was responsible and “that 1,429 people were killed … including at least 426 children.”

Just a few weeks later, in September 2013, the U.S. and Russia agreed to “special procedures” for the “expeditious destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons program and stringent verification thereof.” Secretary of State John Kerry claimed in 2014 that the agreement had worked, saying “we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out” of Syria. That obviously wasn’t true, or at least highly misleading, as Assad retained the capability to regenerate and use certain weapons.

And now—one year after the U.S. attempted to punish Assad with airstrikes, and in the same neighborhood that was terrorized in 2013— the Syrian regime has seemingly struck again.

Many details concerning this most recent attack remain to be confirmed. But the world has already learned some valuable lessons regarding the behavior of rogue actors when it comes their pursuit and use of banned weapons.

There is no real question that Assad has continued to use chemical weapons even after he agreed to give them up. As the State Department was quick to note yesterday, the U.S. has concluded that he was responsible for the April 4, 2017, Sarin gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun—the same incident which prompted the Trump administration’s bombing. And both the U.S. government and the UN have found that Assad’s goons used other chemical weapons, namely crude chlorine bombs, more than once. While some of these bombs struck areas held by jihadi rebels, they have also indiscriminately killed civilians.

Assad’s principal international backer, Vladimir Putin, hasn’t stopped him from using of them. Nor has Iran, which is deeply embedded in Syria alongside Assad’s forces. In fact, the Assad-Putin-Khamenei axis has a legion of online apologists who argue that the high-profile chemical weapons assaults aren’t really the work of the Syrian “president” at all. This noxious advocacy on behalf of mass murderers is readily available on social media.

It gets even worse, as another rogue state has reportedly facilitated Assad’s acquisition of chemical weapons: North Korea. This facilitation is especially worrisome in light of the two nations’ previous cooperation on a nuclear reactor that was destroyed by the Israelis in 2007.

In March, the U.N. issued a report on North Korea’s active “prohibited military cooperation projects…stretching from Africa to the Asia-Pacific region, including ongoing ballistic missile cooperation with the Syrian Arab Republic and Myanmar, widespread conventional arms deals and cyberoperations to steal military secrets.”

The U.N. traced a number of visits by North Korean officials to Syrian soil, finding that “multiple groups of ballistic missile technicians” have been inside Syria. Citing intelligence received from a “Member State,” the U.N. explained that these “technicians … continued to operate at chemical weapons and missile facilities at Barzah, Adra and Hama.” The Assad regime tried to deflect this accusation by claiming the North Koreans were in town simply for “training athletics and gymnastics.”

But the U.N. documented additional suspicious details, including previously unknown illicit shipments and transfers. The U.N. investigative body’s “investigations into several cases of hitherto unreported arms shipments and cooperation with front companies of designated entities between 2010 and 2017 showed further evidence of arms embargo and other violations, including through the transfer of items with utility in ballistic missile and chemical weapons” programs.

In one such transfer, the North Koreans provided the Assad regime with “special resistance valves and thermometers known for use in chemical weapons” programs. U.N. member states also interdicted suspicious shipments, including bricks and tiles that may be used as part of a chemical weapons program. Although the U.N. found these specific materials weren’t banned, a member state noted that they “can be used to build bricks for the interior walls of [a] chemical factory.”

The U.N. found it especially suspicious that North Korean front companies were doing business with the Syrian government’s Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), which oversees Assad’s chemical weapons development.

The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned 271 SSRC staffers in the aftermath of the April 2017 Sarin gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun. Treasury explained that the SSRC is “the Syrian government agency responsible for developing and producing non-conventional weapons and the means to deliver them.” And the sanctioned SSRC employees “have expertise in chemistry and related disciplines and/or have worked in support of SSRC’s chemical weapons program since at least 2012.”

Therefore, the U.N.’s conclusion that North Korea has been working with the SSRC is especially noteworthy.

The U.S. and its allies will continue to face daunting challenges when it comes to restraining rogue nations and their pursuit of banned weapons. As Syria’s ongoing work on chemical weapons shows, such proliferation concerns often involve multiple rogue states. Assad’s chemical weapons attacks inside Syria are principally his own doing, but not solely. He has friends outside of Syria who are willing to help.

***

Also see:

***

John Bolton’s Appointment Rattles The Muslim Brotherhood Echo Chamber

The Trump administration ought not to concede one inch to those who wish to sideline the personnel and stifle the policies that would make its counterjihadist agenda a reality.

The Federalist, by Ben Weingarten, APRIL 5, 2018:

The attacks on former ambassador John Bolton following his appointment as National Security Advisor (NSA) have inadvertently served as some of his strongest endorsements.

First there were the hysterical cries of “neocon warmonger!” This would come as news to the NSA-designate, who was never a “liberal mugged by reality” but a self-identified “Goldwater conservative” from the start; explicitly rejects the belief in democracy-building as imperative to achieving America’s national interest under democratic peace theory; and suggests, exaggerating for effect, that following the removal of Saddam Hussein, as soon as practicable he would have told the Iraqis, “You’re on your own. Here’s a copy of the Federalist papers. Good luck.”

Although the “neocon warmonger” moniker is inapt, to say the least, maybe it is not such a bad thing if our enemies buy this line. In fact, this may be part of President Trump’s strategic rationale as a dealmaker for elevating a “peace-through-strength” realist portrayed as a cantankerous cowboy to the top of the National Security Council.

Then followed another narrative: Bolton is not only a real-life Dr. Strangelove, but worse. He is actually an adroit bureaucrat—“crazy and dangerous.” Then-senator Joe Biden, a man prone to malapropism, actually put it best when, in Bolton’s retelling, Biden said of him in 2005: “My problem with you, over the years, has been, you’re too competent. I mean, I would rather you be stupid and not very effective.”

But the truly revelatory attacks concern Bolton’s positions on Islamic supremacism, which reflect an understanding that jihadists pose a mortal threat that must be countered using every element of national power. You know these attacks are meaningful partly because they have been made under cover of a smear campaign.

Opposing Jihadis Isn’t the Same as Opposing Islam

Bolton has been cast as an “Islamophobe” for the thought crime of being a counterjihadist who supports other counterjihadists. The charge of “Islamophobe” is a baseless, intellectually dishonest, and lazy slur. Although it does not deserve to be dignified with a response, it goes without saying that there is nothing to indicate Bolton harbors an irrational fear of Islam, and everything to indicate he holds the very rational belief that we must defeat Islamic supremacists who wish to subject us to their tyrannical rule or destroy us.

“Islamophobe” is being lobbed at Bolton to try and discredit him and ultimately scuttle policies he supports intended to strike at the heart of Islamic supremacism. The “tell” is that the articles raising such accusations frequently cast counterjihadist policy positions themselves as de facto evidence of Islamophobic bigotry.

As the representative par excellence of the position that America should exit the Iran deal, it should come as no surprise that the Iran deal echo chamber in exile has sprung into action in savaging the ambassador with the most outlandish of insinuations. For the Islamophobia campaign, the lesser-recognized and perhaps more insidious Muslim Brotherhood echo chamber has been activated. Bolton is on record as supporting its designation as a terrorist organization, and Brotherhood apologists and true believers cannot abide this.

Either We Work With Terrorists or We Don’t

Recall that the national security and foreign policy establishment has long held that as a “political Islamist” group, the Muslim Brotherhood ought to be treated as a legitimate diplomatic partner. The theory is that we have to choose between violent and seemingly peaceful Islamic supremacists, ignoring the fact that their differences are tactical and strategic, not ideological. They are all still Islamic supremacists.

Most infamously, the Obama administration supported the ascension of Mohamed Morsi, leader of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, to president during the Arab spring, with predictably horrific consequences in particular for the nation’s Christians that persist even in the era of the much-maligned counterjihadist Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Such disastrously naïve policy pushes ignore that the Muslim Brotherhood is the tip of the Sunni jihadist spear. It’s the ideological fountainhead from which violent jihadist groups from Hamas to al-Qaeda and ISIS spring. The “political” element of the Muslim Brotherhood is, if anything, more pernicious precisely because its adherents do not goose-step, guns in hand, in the public square.

No, the political arm engages in political and ideological warfare, tactfully seeking to impose its will through policy and subterfuge. “Social welfare” activities provide a convenient cover for the group’s ultimate aims. As the Brotherhood put it in its 1991 Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America:

The Ikhwan [Muslim Brothers] 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.

On account of the Brotherhood’s nature and activities, it has been designated as a terrorist organization from Egypt to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. A bill first introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz in 2015, calling for the U.S. secretary of state to submit a report to Congress on designating the Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization in America, lays out several other reasons the group merits this, including:

The [group’s] explicit calls for violent jihad, with the end goal of imposing Islamic law over all the world of the group’s founder and spiritual leader Hassan al-Banna, and the consistently violent Islamic supremacist content of the Brotherhood’s core membership texts

The terrorist efforts of numerous jihadist groups explicitly tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, and the efforts of individual Muslim Brotherhood members designated as terrorists by the U.S. government themselves

The litany of terrorist financing cases involving the Muslim Brotherhood, including the…Holy Land Foundation case [the largest terror financing case in U.S. history]…

Do What We Like or Get Smeared as a Bigot

On the campaign trail and in its early days the Trump administration indicated an interest in designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. But within months it shelved these plans. What happened? The Muslim Brotherhood echo chamber deployed.

The Brotherhood undertook an extensive lobbying and information operation designed to dissuade the administration’s plans, reportedly backed by millions of dollars. The U.S. foreign policy establishment quickly proliferated articles and comments in prominent mainstream publications defending the Muslim Brotherhood against charges of being a jihadist group, adding that designated it as such would be impractical and impracticable. Notably, The New York Times went so far as to print an op-ed in the Brotherhood’s defense written by Clinton Foundation-linked Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad el-Haddad.

In the midst of this flurry of articles, it leaked to the media that the CIA and State Department both produced memos against Muslim Brotherhood terrorist designation. Concurrently, counterjihadists throughout the Trump administration were subjected to a barrage of attacks. Many would ultimately be sidelined, though some like Secretary of State-designate Mike Pompeo survived. He, like Bolton, is being attacked as an Islamophobic bigot as well.

Bolton recognized at the time that these events were not random. During a July 2017 interview he noted:

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…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.

Bolton’s riposte?

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…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.

This position is what really draws the ire of the Brotherhood echo chamber. CAIR, the unindicted co-conspirator in the previously mentioned largest terror financing case in U.S. history, published a press release condemning the appointment of “Islamophobe John Bolton” as NSA, citing corroborating articles from such non-biased sources as Think Progress, The Nation, Islamophobia.com, Vox, and Huffington Post.

As I have written previously, CAIR’s Muslim Brotherhood and jihadi ties are numerous and longstanding, involving not only its founders and present leaders to Hamas, but its harboring of apologists for Islamic terrorism, and alleged impeding of counterterrorism efforts.

Bolton’s endorsement of designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization illustrates a keen understanding of the size, scope, and nature of the Islamic supremacist threat that the national security and foreign policy establishment lacks. It is a proxy for a worldview that if followed to its logical conclusion would turn our largely futile efforts to beat back jihadists over the last 17 years on their head. This view takes Islamic supremacists at their word in their desire to impose upon us the Sharia-based, totalitarian theopolitical ideology to which they adhere. Hence the pushback.

Applying this worldview would lead to decisions antithetical to the progressive Wilsonian internationalists and political Islamists on myriad issues in the Middle East, including:

  • Treatment of Israel versus the Arabs
  • The Iran deal
  • Iran policy more broadly, including appropriate measures against its proxies in Syria and Lebanon
  • Qatar’s bellicosity
  • Turkey’s behavior under Islamic supremacist Erdogan

The Trump administration ought not to concede one inch to those who self-evidently wish to sideline the personnel and stifle the policies that would make its counterjihadist agenda a reality. This specious and slanderous smear campaign reflects all the better on the appointment of Bolton as NSA.

Ben Weingarten is a senior contributor at The Federalist and senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research. He is the founder and CEO of ChangeUp Media, a media consulting and production company dedicated to advancing conservative principles. You can find his work at benweingarten.com, and follow him on Twitter @bhweingarten.

10 Big Changes to Expect With Pompeo at State

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, March 21, 2018:

By replacing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, President Trump has hit the “restart” button on his foreign policy a little over a year into his term.

Trump referenced the Iran deal as the point of contention sparking Tillerson’s departure, as Tillerson and his State Department colleagues favored a policy of making additional demands with additional pressures instead of withdrawing from the deal.

Expect 10 big changes in foreign policy once Pompeo is officially the Secretary of State.

1.Unleashing the sleeping hounds upon on our enemies

Expect a “shadow war” against our enemies that will likely out-do the Obama Administration’s strong covert attacks on the Iranian-North Korean nuclear and missile programs.

As CIA Director, Pompeo reportedly ordered a dramatic increase in human intelligence-gathering, covert operations, cyber security and counterintelligence. He loosened restrictions on drone strikes and other measures to kill terrorists.

Pompeo’s top terrorist hunter was Michael D’Andrea, who married a Muslim woman overseas he met while serving undercover and subsequently converted to Sunni Islam. As the New York Times explained, “perhaps no single CIA official is more responsible for weakening Al-Qaeda.”

D’Andrea, also known as “The Dark Prince” and “Ayatollah Mike,” oversaw the successful search for Osama Bin Laden, as well as the impressive killing of the elusive Hezbollah terrorist Imad Mughniyah.

When Pompeo took over the CIA, he informed the “Dark Prince” he has a new focus: Iran.

In North Korea, Pompeo argued that the ultimate solution should be to “separate the regime from this system” that includes Kim Jong-Un departing from power. His comments contradicted Tillerson’s earlier statement that the U.S. does not seek the ultimate removal of the cultish dictatorship.

In pursuit of that objective, Pompeo has been hoping to support North Korean opposition forces that can destabilize the regime, threatening the only thing that Kim Jong-Un really cares about: himself.

Trump believes that strong pressure caused the potential breakthrough in diplomacy that was recently announced. He will be inclined towards embracing Pompeo’s approach while publicly giving North Korea a chance for a positive change in relations.

Pakistan should also be worried as President Trump has unequivocally stated that Pakistan will finally be held accountable for its role in sustaining the global jihadist insurgency, including killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Pompeo accurately stated that victory in Afghanistan and getting to some kind of ceasefire with the Taliban is wholly contingent upon the Taliban and interlinked jihadist groups losing their safe haven in Pakistan. To date, the U.S. has refrained from targeting most of Pakistan’s proxies with the infrastructure that sustains Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

To Tillerson’s credit, his State Department designated Hizbul Mujahideen, a jihadist group that is essentially an arm of Pakistani intelligence, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The Trump Administration is likely to target the Al-Qaeda-linked groups who maintain a large infrastructure in Pakistan and Kashmir that reaches into the U.S.

2. Ending the Iran deal and a broader attack on Iranian influence

Pompeo’s position on the nuclear deal with Iran is quite clear: “roll it back.”

He believes Iran should not be allowed to have advanced nuclear enrichment capabilities or to the ability to quickly “break out” from a civilian nuclear program into a bomb-building program.

That’s almost the opposite of Tillerson (and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster), who criticized the deal but fought to preserve it.

Pompeo also desires to “push back” Iran, meaning forcing its militias, terrorist proxies and various regional influence operations into retreat. Iran’s efforts include murdering American troops in Afghanistan and creating a Hezbollah-like force in Yemen.

A big question remains about whether Trump will embrace regime change—albeit using more acceptable words, given his consistent opposition to overthrowing foreign governments.

President Trump rooted on the brave protestors in Iran with repeated public encouragement (though it should have continued right up to today), but never formally aligned U.S. policy with their ultimate goal.

Senior officials confirmed to me that the Trump Administration actually rejected overthrowing the Iranian regime as a strategy. This account is substantiated by others who got separate briefings from administration officials who denied trying to remove the theocracy from power.

Pompeo is likely to be more inclined towards this option—the best anti-war, pro-peace option available. As secretary of state, he’s also likely to embrace the Sunni Arab plan to destabilize Iran and its Qatari allies that Tillerson rejected.

3. Rejecting the Islamist lobby of the Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar, Iran and (possibly) Turkey

Tillerson could not have been more disappointing when it came to confronting the Sunni Islamist lobbies of the Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar and Turkey. The result has been the loss of a tremendous opportunity to pressure Qatar as the Arabs ganged up on the terror-sponsor following Trump’s positively-received speech in Riyadh.

Tillerson, more than any other Trump Administration official, bears responsibility for saving the Muslim Brotherhood from being designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization so its U.S. network could begin being dismantled. Tillerson praised Turkish dictator Erdogan and shilled for Qatar.

One cannot help but suspect that Tillerson’s business ties from leading Exxon-Mobil impacted his decision-making towards his former business partners. When Tillerson was widely reported to be on the edge of quitting, he was said to tell colleagues that, besides Iran, his biggest area of difference with Trump was Qatar.

Why was he so passionate about standing up for Qatar out of all the complicated foreign policy he had to deal with?

When the Arab world put its foot down on Qatar, Tillerson’s State Department contradicted the commander-in-chief, even casting doubt on our Arab partners’ allegations that Qatar sponsors Islamist terrorists—a widely known, indisputable fact.

Qatar also launched a well-funded lobbying campaign targeting former Trump campaign officials and seducing former adversaries, like a senior staffer to Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who introduced the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act. The result was Trump flip-flopping on our terror-sponsoring “ally.”

The Tillerson State Department, like the Obama Administration before it, gave a platform to a radical cleric linked to the Muslim Brotherhood so he could win a fanbase as an admirable “moderate” against terrorism.

In August 2017, Clarion Project broke the story that a pro-Erdogan Muslim Brotherhood coalition known as the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations had visited the State Department to express their opinion on the Islamist-manufactured Temple Mount crisis facing Israel. The coalition didn’t say much about the meeting except that it was “encouraged by the constructive dialogue.”

The State Department defended the meeting and added an extra dose of madness to the situation. It turned out there were more meetings. The red carpet was rolled out for the council. They had “met a cross-section of working-level officials from different offices in the [State] Department,” it said.

Here’s another example:

As Dr. Daniel Pipes pointed out in August 2017, Tillerson’s State Department was even facilitating meetings between official Indonesian visitors (and presumably others) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group with a history of ties to Islamic terrorist and extremist groups. The Justice Department listed CAIR as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a terrorism-financing trial and identified it as an “entity” of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee, a secret body established to covertly assist the Hamas terrorist group.

As a congressman, Pompeo was one of the earliest and staunchest supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act, knowing full well that put him in the crosshairs of the Islamist lobby backed by Qatar and Turkey.

However, the Trump Administration’s stance towards Erdogan has been disturbingly friendly, so it is unclear how much change will come in that direction. Pompeo gave a disappointing answer when asked whether the Kurds are America’s friend that could foreshadow a continuance of the Trump Administration’s frequent choosing of Turkey over the Kurds.

Yet, when it came to Iran, he was not swayed by local pressure from businesses eager to trade with the regime, such as by selling aircraft and associated equipment. In fact, he wrote an article titled, “Friends Don’t Let Friends Do Business With Iran.”

4.The Muslim Brotherhood and possibly Jamaat ul-Fuqra are likely to be designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations

When it comes to the Muslim Brotherhood, Pompeo gets it. He even went head-to-head with local Islamists when he was a congressman, bringing public pressure upon the Islamic Society of Wichita for having a terrorism-linked guest speaker. The mosque cancelled the event, blaming him for causing security costs to get too high.

The case for designating Jamaat ul-Fuqra, whose Muslims of the Americas (MOA) front is known for claiming to have 22 “Islamic villages” in America, is just as strong as it is for the Muslim Brotherhood—if not stronger. If Pompeo is made aware of it, he is likely to designate the group, especially due to its links to the recently-designated Hizbul Mujahideen.

5. Even stronger stance with Israel against Islamism and its associated hatreds.

If you thought the Trump Administration was favorable towards Israel now, just wait to see what happens with Pompeo in charge of foreign policy.

Pompeo sees Israel as a beachhead of secular democracy stemming the wave of Islamism headed towards the West. Even under President Trump, there were danger signs for Israel emerging.

6. Pressure on Islamic leadership

Pompeo understands that the jihadist threat is rooted in an ideological interpretation of Islam and that Muslim leaders who fail to unequivocally stand against terrorism and the pursuit of theocratic sharia law are part of the problem.

Critics of Pompeo are taking these comments out of context and conveniently ignoring his support for D’Andrea, the Sunni Muslim convert who led the covert operations against Al-Qaeda and now, due to Pompeo, is doing the same against Iran.

Pompeo’s observation about a lack of “Thomas Jeffersons” in the Middle East does not reflect anti-Muslim bigotry but a desire to help Muslim modernist reformers.

7. He understands the ideological war

A review of his statements and actions have a common denominator: He knows how to wage ideological warfare against America’s adversaries. The aforementioned example of how he pressured the mosque in Wichita proves this point.

As CIA Director, he released portions of Osama Bin Laden’s archive that the Obama Administration refused to—presumably because they showed far closer ties between Bin Laden/Al-Qaeda and Iran than it wished for the public to know.

He saw the value in releasing evidence to expose both enemies. This is a no-brainer that you’d assume would happen all the time but it does not. In the past, our government failed to embrace transparency and cautious release of information as a strategy, and more broadly, a moral imperative for our democracy.

8.Tougher on Russia, Venezuela and Cuba

It must be remembered that Russia is backing elements of the Islamist cause, particularly the Taliban, Iran, the Assad regime and Hezbollah. It also does not consider Hamas to be a terrorist group, and Putin’s puppets in Chechnya are promoting puritanical beliefs.

Expect Pompeo to hold Putin accountable as much as President Trump will let him.

Pompeo does not fall for the manipulations of Russia, Iran and Assad that are designed to present themselves as the “moderate” solutions to the threat of ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the like. He disagrees with Trump regarding the helpfulness of Russia’s role in Syria.

He is also not a “Russia denier.” He doesn’t continually dismiss any intelligence analysis concluding that Russia tried to influence the 2016 election and use our hyper-partisanship to rip apart American society and use our dysfunction to discredit the ideology of secular democracy.

Pompeo also sounds like he advocates a tougher line on the Venezuelan dictatorship that is allied with Iran and expressed concern about Cuban intelligence operations against the U.S.

9. Confronting the “non-state hostile intelligence services”

Pompeo is greatly concerned with how anti-American actors, including Islamists and obviously Russia, can use “non-state hostile intelligence services” like Wikileaks to wreak havoc on the West’s intelligence operations, military operations and international partnerships, as well as dominate media cycles to their preferred narrative.

As I wrote here, Julian Assange is dedicated to fanning the flames of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism.Comedian Stephen Colbert, in a rare break from character and politeness, confronted Assange on behalf of U.S. troops in this 2010 interview before bashing Wikileaks became a left-wing pastime.

One of the most important people involved with Wikileaks, Israel Shamir, praised Iranian President Ahmadinejad and refers to Palestinian terrorists as “martyrs.”

He’s also a Holocaust denier and, since 2010, acts as the liaison between Assange and the Russian state-controlled media. The ties between the anti-Semitic Israel Shamir, Julian Assange and Russia are extensive and well-documented.

To give another famous example, a bipartisan U.S. House Intelligence Committee investigation into Edward Snowden concluded that he lied about numerous parts of his story and has close ties to Russian intelligence.

Pompeo is triggered when Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning are mentioned.

In one public discussion, he said Snowden “absconded to the comfortable clutches of Russian intelligence, his treachery directly harmed a wide range of U.S. intelligence and military operations … In fact, a colleague of ours at the National Security Agency recently explained that more than a thousand foreign targets, people, groups and organizations, more than a thousand of them, tried to change how they communicated as a direct result of Snowden’s disclosures. That’s a staggering number.”

Snowden claims to have no relationship with Assange’s Wikileaks. That further illustrates the fact that these “non-state hostile intelligence services” are a growing threat and, for Islamists and the governments sponsoring them, present an incredible opportunity.

As Pompeo points out, these “activists’” emphasis on disclosures that hurt the West is telling. He said, “Julian Assange and his kind are not the slightest bit interested in improving civil liberties or enhancing personal freedom.”

10. A Trump Administration more in unison and a better informed President Trump

The Trump Administration basically did not include the State Department. This divided was aggravated by the simple fact that Tillerson and Trump just didn’t get along and had too many differing opinions.

Unnamed officials were regularly quoting Trump as calling Tillerson too weak. Tillerson did not deny reports that he called Trump a “moron” at a meeting.

Unlike Tillerson, Pompeo has personal chemistry with Trump. He also upstaged Tillerson with his talent for educating Trump on foreign affairs using visuals that hold his attention.

Expect dramatic changes in the Trump Administration’s foreign policy and its approach towards Islamist extremism.

Conclusion

Of the most senior officials, only National Security Adviser McMaster stands in the way of an aggressive ideological war on Islamism. And it seems his days are numbered, with his likeliest replacement being former U.N. ambassador John Bolton.

The White House is denying that McMaster is on his way out the door, but we’ve heard those denials before. Trump needs to just do it.

We are over a year into the Trump presidency and, by the end of this year, we’ll probably be hearing about Democratic and possibly Republican candidates announcing their presidential candidacies.

There is no time to waste.

It’s time for Trump to get his team together and get his foreign policy moving.

Does Jihad Really Have “Nothing to do with Islam”?

Gatestone Institute, by Denis MacEoin, Feb. 24, 2018:

  • “National Security officials are prohibited from developing a factual understanding of Islamic threat doctrines, preferring instead to depend upon 5th column Muslim Brotherhood cultural advisors.” — Richard Higgins, NSC official.
  • At the heart of the problem lies the fantasy that Islam must be very similar to other religions, particularly Judaism and Christianity, out of which it was, in fact derived.
  • The use of force, mainly through jihad, is a basic doctrine in the Qur’an, the Prophetic sayings (ahadith), and in all manuals of Islamic law. It is on these sources that fighters from Islamic State, al-Qa’ida, al-Shabaab, and hundreds of other groupings base their preaching and their actions. To say that such people have “nothing to do with Islam” could not be more wrong.

Recently, US National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster once again downplayed the significance of faith by claiming that Islamic ideology is “irreligious”; meanwhile, up to 1.5 billion Muslims continue claiming, as they have done for 1400 years, that it is.

As Stephen Coughlin, an expert on Islam, told Gatestone, “It is the believers who define their religion, not the non-believers. If someone says his religion is that the moon is made of green cheese, that has to be your starting point.”

On February 20, 2017, President Trump appointed McMaster, a serving Lieutenant General of the US Army, to the important position of National Security Advisor, after the forced resignation of Michael T. Flynn. McMaster came to the post with a reputation for stability, battlefield experience, and intelligence. According to the Los Angeles Times:

“It is not an overstatement to say that Americans and the world should feel a little safer today,” tweeted Andrew Exum, an author and academic who saw combat in Afghanistan and writes widely about military affairs.”

After the controversies surrounding McMaster’s predecessor in office, McMaster came as a safe hand.

It was not long before divisions opened up within the NSC, however, with quarrels, firings, and appeals to the president. Many controversies remain today. By July, it was reported that Trump was planning to fire McMaster and replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. By August, however, McMaster’s position seemed secure.

U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

It is not the purpose of this article to discuss issues McMaster’s spell at the NSC has brought to light, except for one: McMaster’s position on Islam and terrorism. It became a cause for contention early in McMaster’s incumbency and continues to engender divisions, not just among NSC staff, but also with the president. The general’s viewpoint, which he has often expressed, is that international terrorism has nothing to do with the religion of Islam, a notion he seems to believe to the point where he has banned the use of the term “radical Islamic terrorism” — a term that Trump uses often.

In an all-hands meeting of the NSC on February 23, 2017, three days after his appointment as NSC Director, McMaster said jihadist terrorists are not true to their professed religion and that the use of the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” does not help the US in working with allies to defeat terrorist groups:

“The phrase is unhelpful because terrorist organizations like ISIS represent a perversion of Islam, and are thus un-Islamic, McMaster said, according to a source who attended the meeting.”

More recently, on December 3, in an interview with Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace, McMaster stated that “we make sure we never buy into or reinforce the terrorist narrative, this false narrative that this is a war of religion”. He followed this by elaborating on the criminality and supposed secularism of Muslim terrorists:

“Those who adhere to this ideology are really irreligious criminals who use a perverted, what the President has called a wicked interpretation of religion, in an effort to recruit young, impressionable people to their cause, to foment hatred”.

In taking that stance, McMaster has broken with many members of his own staff, several of whom he was later to fire, and with the Trump administration itself. This desire to deny a connection between Islam and terrorism or to distinguish between a “pure” Islamic religion and “perversions” of it had been for many years a characteristic of the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, as well as Hillary Clinton’s tweets, when “this has nothing to do with Islam” was an oft-repeated refrain.

One of the people whom McMaster fired is Richard Higgins, a top NSC official who had written a memoir in which he warned of the dangers of radical Islam and its alliance with the far Left. In a lengthy document, Higgins wrote:

Globalists and Islamists recognize that for their visions to succeed, America, both as an ideal and as a national and political identity, must be destroyed…Islamists ally with cultural Marxists…[but] Islamists will co-opt the movement in its entirety…

Because the left is aligned with Islamist organizations at local, national, and international levels, recognition should be given to the fact that they seamlessly interoperate through coordinated synchronized interactive narratives…

These attack narratives are pervasive, full spectrum, and institutionalized at all levels. They operate in social media, television, the 24-hour news cycle in all media and are entrenched at the upper levels of the bureaucracies.

Clearly, Higgins did not mince his words, yet what he wrote seems entirely appropriate for the NSC, a body charged with the protection of the United States from radicalism of all kinds. According to Meira Svirsky, writing for the Clarion Project

Lamenting the lack of education given to government officials about radical Islam, Higgins previously wrote, “National Security officials are prohibited from developing a factual understanding of Islamic threat doctrines, preferring instead to depend upon 5th column Muslim Brotherhood cultural advisors.” [1]

Higgins’s stress on the lack of education about Islam is a vital recognition that something has been going wrong for years when it comes to American and European official responses to the religion and its followers. Rightly cautious about genuine Islamophobia, the growth of hate speech and intercommunal strife, governments and their agencies have adopted policies and measures to preserve calm even in the face of growing levels of terrorism by Muslims. Europeans in Paris, Barcelona, Manchester, London, Brussels, Berlin and Nice, to name just a few places, are at the forefront of attacks inspired by Islamic State, al-Qa’ida and other radical groups. But the US has suffered the heaviest casualties, with thousands slaughtered in the 9/11 attacks.

In the face of a renascent and at times violent Islam, politicians have adopted the policy of denying any connection between terrorist events and Islam. Many religious leaders have done the same. McMaster has adopted this policy, keeping him in line with established approaches:

“HR McMaster, a respected army lieutenant general, struck notes more consistent with traditional counterterrorism analysts and espoused consensus foreign-policy views during a meeting he held with his new National Security Council staff on Thursday”.

According to Svirsky:

McMaster believes the “Islamic State is not Islamic,” going so far as to describe jihadists as “really irreligious organizations.” As did former president Obama, he opposes use of any language that connects Islam to terrorism.

McMaster also rejects the notion that jihadists are motivated by religious ideology. Instead, he says they are motivated by “fear,” a “sense of honor” and their “interests,” which he describes as the roots of human conflict for thousands of years. He believes U.S. policy must be based on “understanding those human dimensions.”

There may be signs that McMaster, though he still has some way to go, at least recognizes that some deeply religious Islamic organizations are a threat to the West. Writing on December 13, Meira Svirsky cites a speech McMaster gave at Policy Exchange in Washington:

“Declaring the ideology of radical Islam an obvious and ‘grave threat to all civilized people,’ U.S. National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster singled out the Muslim Brotherhood and its brand of political Islam as a specific threat”.

In that speech, the general spoke of Turkey and Egypt as two major sources of support for the Brotherhood, including its Palestinian branch, Hamas. He clearly sees the threat, but does not, as yet, fully understand the meaning of its religious dimension (however much other factors play a role in terrorism).

I have no wish to be disrespectful towards McMaster, who carries out a vital task in securing the lives and property of so many Americans, but I fear his statements show that he has little or no knowledge of Islam, its teachings, or its history. Either that or he has invented a form of Islam that bears no resemblance to the religion that many of us have spent most of our lives studying. Not implausibly, he has given ears to advisors, possibly including Muslims, who have sought to play down any possible link between violence and the Muslim faith.

This willingness, even eagerness, to misrepresent Islam plays directly into the hands of anti-Western Muslims, radicals who anticipate the coming of an apocalyptic global Caliphate. In a recent article, Professor Richard Landes of Boston University lists the many ways in which this is done:

Only the most fervent of true believers could think that, even with Allah’s help, the global Caliphate was possible. In order to succeed, da’wa [outreach; proselytizing] Caliphaters needed the assistance of the targeted kuffar population to:

  • Disguise their ambition to subject the kuffar, by downplaying jihadi acts of war and their deployment among the targeted population.
  • Insist that “except for a tiny minority,” the “vast majority” of Muslims are moderate and peaceful, and Islam is a “Religion of Peace” that has nothing to do with the violence of jihadists.
  • Accept those who fight for the Caliphate with da’wa as “moderates” who have “nothing to do” with “violent extremists.”
  • Engage these “moderate” Caliphaters as advisors and consultants in intelligence and police work, as prison chaplains, community liaisons, college teachers, and administrators.
  • Present Caliphater war propaganda as reliable information, as news.
  • Attack those who criticize Islam (including Muslims) as xenophobic and racist Islamophobes.
  • Adopt the Caliphater’s apocalyptic enemy as their own, so that the kuffar join in an attack on one of their key allies.
  • Legitimate jihadi terrorism as “resistance” and denounce any recourse to violence in their own defense as “terrorism.”
  • Respect the dignity of Muslim beliefs even as Muslims heap disdain on their beliefs.
  • Take seriously Caliphater invocations of human rights when, in reality, they despise those rights for women, slaves, and infidels.
  • Welcome an angry “Muslim Street” in the heart of their capital cities.

At the heart of the problem lies the fantasy that Islam must be very similar to other religions, particularly Judaism and Christianity, out of which it was, in fact derived. This would mean that Islam consists only of doctrines about a single God, heaven and hell, sin and punishment, spiritual endeavor, together with practices such as prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, and alms-giving. There would be nothing to concern us were that the case, and certainly no reason to connect the faith with a few supposedly fanatical people who have misguidedly distorted it and turned to violence.

But that would be to ignore the totality of Islam. Apart from 12 years at the start of Muhammad’s mission, Islam has encompassed far more than worship and moral behavior. From the moment Muhammad led his followers from Mecca to Medina in the year 622, his religion became a system of government, of law, and of war. Several battles were fought with his Meccan opponents; the Jews of Medina were either driven out by force or executed and enslaved, and Muhammad returned to Mecca as its conqueror. On his death, his first successor embarked on a two-year war to bring recalcitrant tribes back within the fold, sent out armies to the north and, in just a few years, began the wave of invasions that made Muslims victorious across most of the known world. Of the first four “rightly-guided” caliphs, one was assassinated by an Iranian captive and the other two by other Muslims. Muhammad’s grandson, Husayn, was killed with his family in Karbala in 680 by the second of the Umayyad caliphs, before further internal wars. Jihadi wars continued, year in and year out, after that; they are still invoked by modern terrorists. Islam has never been at peace with the non-Muslim world.

The use of force, mainly through jihad, is a basic doctrine in the Qur’an, the prophetic sayings (ahadith), and in all manuals of Islamic law. (For examples, see hereherehere and here.)

If jihad were permitted only in self-defence, then excuses implying aggression, as we have seen, would need to be readily available to justify attacks. As the Washington Post wrote a fortnight after the attack on the United States on 9/11/2001:

At the heart of the bin Laden opus are two declarations of holy war — jihad — against America. The first, issued in 1996, was directed specifically at “Americans occupying the land of the two holy places,” as bin Laden refers to his native Saudi Arabia, where 5,000 U.S. troops have been stationed since the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The two holy places are Muslim shrines at Mecca and Medina.

In 1998, he broadened the edict to include the killing of “Americans and their allies, civilians and military . . . in any country in which it is possible to do it.”

It is on such Islamic sources that fighters from Islamic State, al-Qa’ida, al-Shabaab, and hundreds of other groupings base their preaching and their actions. To say that such people have “nothing to do with Islam” could not be more wrong.

It is not only wrong, it is demeaning to the many ex-Muslims such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Ibn Warraq and reformist Muslims who are fully aware of the connection, but are often apparently considered delusional or even fanatical. Last year saw the publication of Ibn Warraq’s detailed study, The Islam in Islamic Terrorism: The Importance of Beliefs, Ideas, and Ideology, which takes the reader through all the violent or violence-promoting individuals and groups in Islamic history, with discursions on the thinking behind them. With few exceptions, these individuals and groups are far from minor or obscure.

In chapter one of his book, Ibn Warraq examines what he calls the “Root Cause Fallacy”, whereby politicians, security advisers, and others deflect attention from religion as a motivator for terrorism. He shows that most radicals and terrorists are not primarily inspired or justified by poverty, lack of knowledge of Islam, lack of education, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Palestine, anti-Semitism, U.S. Foreign policy, Western Imperialism, or revenge for the Crusades. He refers (p. 31) to David Wurmser of the American Enterprise Institute and his view that:

“Westerners attribute too many of the Arab world’s problems ‘to specific material issues’ such as land and wealth. This usually means a tendency ‘to belittle belief and strict adherence to principle as genuine and dismiss it as a cynical exploitation of the masses by politicians. As such, Western observers see material issues and leaders, not the spiritual state of the Arab world, as the heart of the problem'”.

Overall, Ibn Warraq draws on an extensive body of scholarship, mainly from leading Western scholars of Islam and authoritative sources such as The Encyclopedia of Islam. McMaster and others, who repeat the mantra that Islamic terrorism has nothing to do with Islam, are hardly in a position to override comment by individuals who have spent a lifetime deeply involved in the study of Islam through its original sources.

Ibn Warraq, moreover, cites (pp. 139-140) several Western and Muslim scholars who have said repeatedly that the idea that the “true jihad is a spiritual struggle” is completely unauthentic. It is arguments based on a reading of texts in Arabic, Persian, Urdu and other languages that deserve to be treated as the basis for policy-making, identifying which people may be potential terrorists, or evaluating the true intentions of US-based Muslim associations such as CAIR or ISNA.

Clare Lopez, vice president of research and analysis at the Washington-based Center for Security Policy, has commented on the broad lack of knowledge about Islam and how it has distorted thinking within national bodies. Beginning with criticism of McMaster, she raises broader issues:

McMaster is just wrong for NSC on so many counts. I think at least in part because, like others across national security at his level, who made rank in years post-9/11, he was systematically denied fact-based training about Islam, jihad, Shariah and the MB [Muslim Brotherhood] – whose affiliates, associates, operatives, fellow travelers and useful fools remain embedded within and close to the federal government and local law enforcement at various levels.

Now, of course, anyone who’s ever taken the oath to the Constitution has an affirmative obligation to know the enemy and that McMaster did not do this is his responsibility alone.

Those who got promoted within the military-security establishment over the past eight years got there precisely because of a “willful blindness about Islam”.

The problem for the United States government, Congress, Senate — and many important agencies which find themselves called on to discuss, monitor, report on, or make policies about Islam, American Muslims, Muslims worldwide, and more — is knowing where to look for accurate and authentic information. In the past, all of these have depended on Muslim academics, uncritical and cosmetic non-Muslim professors and commentators such as John Esposito, Karen Armstrong and the many teachers identified by Campus Watch; numerous university and college Islamicists with vested interests in posts funded by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and other Muslim states (see here); self-appointed Islamic authorities such as CAIR, and amateurs within US institutions.

Criticism of Islam has become taboo and has been denounced as a right-wing or even far-right prejudice. The present writer, however, a political centrist, sees nothing wrong in bringing reasoned and fact-based criticism to bear on Islam, just as one would to every other ideology, from Marxism to Fascism. One can also appreciate the stunning contributions Muslims have made to science, art, architecture, calligraphy, music, and the spiritual endeavors of Sufis and Shi’i mystical philosophers. It is important for everyone to step back and bring accuracy and balance to the way we regard a large and expanding religion. 

Denis MacEoin has an MA in Persian, Arabic and Islamic History from Edinburgh University and a PhD (1979) in an aspect of Shi’i Islam in 19th-century Iran. He taught Arabic and Islamic Studies in the Religious Studies Department of Newcastle University and has published many books and articles on Islamic topics.


[1] There is evidence that the international Muslim Brotherhood is working for influence in US politics and that it has already placed people within several US bodies. See here.

When will Congress finally debate our strategy in Middle East?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The founders had great wisdom in vesting war powers with Congress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

———————————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————–

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

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

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