Archive for August 6, 2017

Business as usual in the PA

August 6, 2017

Business as usual in the PA, Israel Hayom, Ariel Bolstein, August 6, 2017

As long as the world takes the Palestinian Authority’s murderous propaganda lightly, the Palestinians will continue to step it up. In the past, we learned what anti-Semitic incitement can do. It would be an unforgivable mistake to allow these agitators to set in motion a process that will lead to the certain death of innocent Jews.


One of the biggest challenges facing Israel’s public diplomacy efforts is the lack of basic understanding among target audiences in Europe, North and South America, and almost everywhere else in the world, as to the nature of the enemy we face. Even the events of recent weeks were not enough to shatter the prevailing assumption that our conflict with the Palestinians is between two equal parties. It is difficult for those on the sidelines, unaware of what transpires here, to grasp the moral discrepancy between Israel and those seeking its destruction.

Every summer has its one hit song, which is usually catchy and harmless. But the current favorite on the Palestinian street is far from your typical summer song: In it, you won’t find happiness, love or good feelings. Instead, the hit that’s “scorching” the internet and breaking records is a call to murder Jews.

There are no double meanings or euphemisms, nor is there any attempt to downplay or refine the message. The song’s lyrics are clearly directed at Jews, like the blows of a hammer, or more precisely, the wounds inflicted with a knife: “I swear on my religion, I will murder you,” the song says.

Lest there be any doubt, the song goes on to detail the murderous methods popular with the “knights of freedom” of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Hamas and all the other terror groups: a knife, an ax, a pistol and a rifle. The accompanying music video stimulates the rest of the fans’ senses: A combination of video footage and animation is used to depict the attacks already perpetrated and those that will ostensibly be carried out in the future as the screen fills with blood — Jewish blood.

Normally, the musicians behind the summer hit become instantaneous stars, but the ones responsible for the Palestinian hit remain anonymous. It is unclear who posted the latest clip to YouTube but the official Palestinian news agency was clearly only too happy to share it on their channel. If there was ever any doubt as to the Palestinian Authority’s role in the Palestinian incitement machine, this should make it sufficiently clear just who is behind the calls to murder Jews.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his cohorts are waging a campaign of incitement against Israel, the likes of which has not been seen for decades. This is the PA’s objective in everything it does — from using its schools to educate children to violence to online incitement and funding terror through payments to terrorists’ families. Of course, none of this prevents senior Palestinian officials from asking Israel to provide them and their families with advanced medical treatment.

The anonymous performer behind this Palestinian song may not have a fine arts degree, but he knows the way to his audience’s hearts. That is why the hit ends with a call to cleanse the land of all its Jews. In the spirit of our times, it also mentions the religious obligation to “defend Al-Aqsa.” Were you under the impression that the metal detectors were getting in the way of the worshippers at the mosque? Well, here come the Palestinians to take the wool off of your eyes: Their ambitions have nothing to do with this or that arrangement on the Temple Mount or in Jerusalem; their goal is a final solution to the Jewish problem.

As long as the world takes the Palestinian Authority’s murderous propaganda lightly, the Palestinians will continue to step it up. In the past, we learned what anti-Semitic incitement can do. It would be an unforgivable mistake to allow these agitators to set in motion a process that will lead to the certain death of innocent Jews.

Ariel Bolstein is the founder of the Israel advocacy organization Faces of Israel.

Justice Minister Shaked: Prime ministers don’t have to step down if indicted

August 6, 2017

Justice Minister Shaked: Prime ministers don’t have to step down if indicted, DEBKAfile, August 6, 2017

Prime ministers don’t have to resign if indicted for a crime – only ministers, Israeli’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked explained in a TV interview Saturday. That’s the law, she said in relation to the corruption probes against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The moral aspect is a matter for debate among coalition partners, but there is still a long road before that, she said. “The police and district attorneys must still recommend an indictment and the Attorney General hold a hearing to confirm it. We still have no idea how this will end. Newspapers thrive on headlines, speculation and assumptions. In a democracy, governments are elected not chosen through interrogations.”

Friday, Netanyahu’s former chief of staff agreed to turn state’s witness against his former mentor, raising speculation of an imminent indictment. The prime minister has denounced the allegations against him as trumped up to replace his government. He reiterates: “Nothing will be found because there is nothing to find.”

National Security Advisor General H.R. McMaster on MSNBC with Hugh

August 6, 2017

Sat, Aug 5, 2017 | By Duane Patterson

Source: National Security Advisor General H.R. McMaster on MSNBC with Hugh « The Hugh Hewitt Show


The transcript:

HH: General H.R. McMaster, thank you for joining me.

HRM: Thanks, Hugh. It’s a pleasure to be with you.

HH: This Sunday in Venezuela, more demonstrations are expected. Your old friend James
Stavridis said on my show on Wednesday, “There’s gonna be a violent civil war. There’s gonna
be massive refugees, and any military intervention in that country would have to come from
Columbia and/or Brazil.” Do you agree with those three assessments?

HRM: Well, I think his assessment is right, that, you know, democracy’s over right now in
Venezuela. And people have talked about what is, could there be a coup? Well, there’s already
been a coup that has happened already. Maduro has prevented the Venezuelan people from an—
havin’ a say in– in their own future. And so with the seating of this constituent assembly, it is—it
is– it is a watershed. And it’s– it’s a tragedy– for the Venezuelan people who are suffering all
kinds of deprivations based on– on the– the failed policies– of two regimes now. And– and it—
it’s really a situation that’s intolerable from the Venezuelan people’s perspective. And so what
we’re endeavoring to do is to work with partners in the region and to work on behalf of the
Venezuelan people to help rescue them from this dictatorship.

HH: Do you see a military intervention from any outside source?

HRM: No, I don’t– I don’t– I don’t think so. I think what’s– what’s really required is for
everyone to have one voice about the need to protect the rights and the safety of the– of the
Venezuelan people.

HH: If there isn’t an intervention, General, does Maduro possess the potential to become a new
Castro but one even more dangerous than Castro was in ’62 when the Soviets put missiles there?
It’s a bigger country, it’s a richer country.

HRM: So the– there are b– there are big consequences obviously, mainly for the Venezuelan
people. But there– there are consequences for security in the– in the region as– as well. And so
we know that– that he’s drawing very heavily, Maduro’s drawing very heavily on support from
the Cubans. He’s also has the Chinese and the Russians underwriting this– this failed regime. This– this authoritarian dictatorship now. And so there– there are regional security implications as well as, as we already see every day, devastating consequences for the Venezuelan people.

HH: Venezuela also has a long history with Iran. And– there are reports that Iran has back and forth with them. Any idea if the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Quds Forces is in Venezuela?

HRM: Well, it wouldn’t– it wouldn’t be surprising. I know, the– of course, their priorities are– are elsewhere, what they’ve done to– to really light the Middle East on fire, to flame this– this very destructive cycle of sectarian violence in the Middle East. I mean, that’s what I think we have to hold the I.R.G.C. accountable for– for. Pull the curtain back on their subversive activities– across– across the greater Middle East.

HH: The reason I bring them up is because, if there are revolts in the street on Sunday and beyond, when the Green Movement occurred in 2009, the besiege, and the I.R.G.C. j– j– were ruthless. They just cut it down. Would you expect Maduro’s government to do the same thing with demonstrations?

HRM: Well, the– there, he’s, their, he’s already doing it, right? I mean, they’re– they are already brutally repressing the Venezuelan people. And you’ve seen this with these gangs of thugs. Typically, the, these are the sorts of organizations that are used. Legitimate security forces are a tool of profession of– cu– or– or they use security forces– as– as tool of oppression. But even what you’re seeing– become more and more– likely and– and– and more and more routine is the use of these sort of gangs of thugs as an extension of a repressive or authoritain– authoritarian regime. You see this in– in– in Iran in the form of what’s called the besiege. Right? You see this with these gangs of– of thugs in Venezuela as well.

HH: Do you want to rule out completely, does the president rule out completely no matter what the situation is, pulling a Panama, as President George Herbert Walker Bush did?

HRM: Well, are you– you know, there’s a long history in the region of– of American intervention, and that’s caused, you know, problems in the past. And so I think that we’re very cognizant of the fact that– that we don’t want to give this regime or others the opportunity to say, “Well, you know, this isn’t the problem with Maduro. This is the– this is the Yankees doing this. This is– this is– the– they’re the cause of the problem.” You’ve seen Maduro have– have some lame attempts to try to do that already. So I think it’s important for us to place responsibility for this catastrophe on Maduro’s shoulders. He is the one who has caused it, and he’s the one who’s perpetuating it.

HH: And General, let’s go to Iran, which I mentioned already. Has Secretary Mattis and President Trump and you decided on clear rules of engagement for when the Iranian ships approach our ships in the Gulf?

HRM: Yes, there are very clear rules of engagement.

HH: And would they, would it be surprising for us to have to sink one of those vessels very soon?

HRM: Well, I– our– our captains, you know, our– our naval– officers and– and leaders are strong leaders who are disciplined. And– and they will do everything they can to, you know, to advance our interests, to protect their sailors and– and to defend themselves if necessary. And the president’s made it very clear. He will never, you know, he will never question– any of our military leaders if they take actions to defend themselves and their soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.

HH: And is there– is the report correct that the president wants out of the Iranian nuclear deal?

HRM: Well, the– the president, you know, is more than skeptical about that deal. He calls it, “The worst deal ever.” And in many ways, it– it was the worst deal ever, because it did, it rewarded the regime, gave them so much up front. And– and what happened is, Iran began immediately to violate the spirit of that agreement. Which was meant not only to prevent this horrible regime– that has been victimizing so many people across the greater Middle East and beyond through their support for– for brutal proxy forces, their support for the Assad regime who’s, you know, gassed and murdered his– his own people in large numbers. The support for Hamas, the support for Hezbollah and– and how that has created so much mayhem in the region for these– these– Houthi rebels in Yemen, for example. A regime that has caused so much human suffering already. The intent was to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon, but also then to– to get them to moderate the beha– their behavior. What– what the regime did is the opposite of that. They actually intensified their destabilizing behavior acr– across the region. So the president’s very strong about this when he says, “The main point we oughta focus on is that Iran has violated the spirit of this agreement.” And so what we have done is we have crafted– a strategy along with a lot of our likeminded nations, allies, partners, to counter Iran’s destabilizing behavior. While we still aim to prevent by whatever means is necessary to do so– Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

HH: Now I don’t like the agreement, a lotta people don’t like the agreement, the president doesn’t like the agreement. But if we leave precipitously without a legitimate reason to do so, won’t that undermine our ability to make other agreements in other places? Is that what’s holding us in there, even though they’re violating the spirit of it?

HRM: I think what’s holding us in there right– right now is– is– our determination– as to the degree at which they are violating the letter of the agreement. And they have in the past. Right? They had too much heavy water. They had too many centrifuges running. But when we go to the I.A.E.A. to– to enforce this agreement– the– they– they’ve taken remedial measures. But of course, what they’re doing is they’re stepping over that line. And we have to be very clear. And all of our, all the signatories to this have to be clear that, “If you violate the agreement, then there– there are gonna be consequences. And– and we can’t adhere to an agreement if the main party here, Iran, is violating it.”

HH: Next review is in 90 days. Do you think the president is going to stay in the agreement 90 days?

HRM: Well, these reviews that come up every 90 days– these are internal reports to our Congress. And so they’re– they’re really two separate issues. Do we– do we certify that– that Iran is– is adhering to the deal? And we’re looking very hard at– at their adherence to it with– with our partners– and other signatories to– to the J.C.P.O.A. is what it’s called, the Iran nuclear deal. And then there– there’s also the question of whether or not you stay in the agreement, based on– on– on– on violations.

HH: Any prediction?

HRM: No– no– no predictions at all. I mean, we’re– we’re not prejudging this. We’re– we’re working hard at it every day. And we’re working hard on it as part of a broader approach to– to the problem of Iran, Iran’s destabilizing behavior, the humanitarian and political catastrophe they’re helping to perpetuate, along with, you know, the– those others responsible, including I.S.I.S.– and– and other ter– terrorist groups in the region. But I– I think Iran is behaving in a way that you could say is aimed at keeping the Arab world perpetually weak and enmeshed in conflict, so they can use this chaotic environment in the Middle East to advance their hegemonic aims. Their– their desire to– to dominate in the region.

HH: Should the Supreme Leader be surprised if the president withdraws from this agreement in the next six months, three months? Is it, would it be a shock to him?

HRM: You know, I don’t think it would be a shock to him or– or anybody, because the– the president has made clear that he will– he will judge whether or not Iran is– is sticking to this agreement based on the merits. And– and this president is not afraid to– to do what he sees is right for the security of the American people.

HH: One more connection to this. Hezbollah released announcement to– Newsweek earlier in the week saying that, “President Trump and his administration has a compound ignorance of terrorism and Hezbollah.” Do we? Do you?

HRM: No. I think what you’ve been able to see with– with Hezbollah in recent– in recent months and years is, based on their operations in Syria, what are they? I mean, are they a true representative of the Shia population in Lebanon? Or are they a tool of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Iran? And I say, I would say they are a tool of the repressive– and– r– Iranian regime and– and the I.R.G.C., this Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps– in particular.

HH: All right, let me switch if I can to North Korea, which is really pressing. And– and remind our audience, at the Aspen Institute ten days ago, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Joe Dunford, said, “There’s always a military– option. It would be horrific.” Lindsey Graham on Today Show earlier this week said– “We need to destroy the regime and their deterrent.” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday, I believe, to North Korea, “You are leaving us no choice but to protect ourselves.” And then the Chairman of the Chief of Staff of the Army said, “Just because every choice is a bad choice doesn’t mean you don’t have to choose.” Are we looking at a preemptive strike? Are you trying to prepare us, you being collectively, the administration and people like Lindsey Graham and Tom Cotton for a first strike North Korea?

HRM: Well, we really, what you’re asking is– is are we preparing plans for a preventive war, right? A war that would prevent North Korea from threatening the United States with a nuclear weapon. And the president’s been very clear about it. He said, “He’s not gonna tolerate North Korea being able to threaten the United States.” Look at the (UNINTEL) for that regime if it– if– if they have nuclear weapons that can threaten the United States. It’s intolerable from the president’s perspective. So– so of course, we have to provide all options to do that. And– and that includes a military option. Now, would we like to resolve it short of what would be a very costly war, in terms of– in terms of the suffering of mainly the South Korean people? The– the ability of– of that North– North Korean regime to hold the South hostage to conventional fire’s capabilities, artillery and so forth, Seoul being so close. We’re cognizant of all of that. And so what we have to do is– is everything we can to– to pressure this regime, to pressure Kim Jong-un and those around him such that they conclude, it is in their interest to denuclearize. And there are really I think three critical things, came out of the president’s very successful summit with– President Xi of China that were different– that were different from past efforts to work with China, which has always been, you know, the– the desire, right, to work with China– on the– on the North Korean problem. The three things that came out of that are, first of all, that North Korea, Kim Jong-un s– armed with nuclear weapons is a threat not only to the United States, not only to our great allies, Japan and South Korea, but also to China. So that’s a big acknowledgement. The second thing was that– was that, we’re, the goal– the goal of working together with them cannot be the so-called “freeze for freeze.” Where we freeze our– our– our training and then they freeze their program. Because they’re at a threshold capability now. Freeze for freeze doesn’t work anymore. Right? It’s– it’s intolerable. So the goal is denuclearization of the– of the peninsula. That’s the second big thing. The third big thing that came out of it is, China acknowledged they have tremendous coercive economic influence here. They may not have a great political relationship with Kim Jong-un. I mean, who does these days, right? But– but they recognize that they do have a great deal of agency and control over that situation. And so we are prioritizing Secretary of State in the lead obviously, prioritizing an effort to work with the Chinese. As the president has said, as the president has tweeted, right? We– we also though have to be prepared to walk down a path that assumes not as much help from China as we would like.

HH: So that would mean, back to the preemptive strike or some kind of action against Kim Jong-un, should he be sleeping easily at night?

HRM: No, I think– I think he should not be, because he– he has the whole world against him. Right? He’s– he’s isolated– he’s isolated on this. Si– since 1953, the Korean Peninsula has been in a state of armistice. Right? The war never formally ended. And there has been no aggression– no aggression from– from the United States, South Korea, any– any of our allies.

HH: If he were removed, General, would the regime’s behavior change? If that one individual were removed?

HRM: Well, I– I’m not sure about that. I mean, I don’t think anybody has a very clear picture of the inner workings of that regime. What is clear is that it is– it is an authoritarian dictatorship that– that has existed since the end– end of World War II. It is now in its third generation. And there is a difference in this third autocratic ruler, in that he’s as brutal as the previous two have been, but he’s doing some things differently. He’s killing members of his own family even. And so what– what this means for the future of that regime. I mean, I think it’s really almost imp– it’s impossible to predict.

HH: Is it legitimate? You’ve done a lot of strategic thinking about this. Is it legitimate to attempt to achieve regime change by the removing of one– leader of a regime? Is that a legitimate tool of international affairs?

HRM: Well, di– well, I think it depends on– on really the– the– the legal justifications for that, right? And– and this goes back to, you know– j– just war theory. And– and– what is the nature of– of the risk? And– and does that risk justify acting in defense of– of your people and– and your vital interests?

HH: We know the risk a little bit. In 1994, when the first nor– North Korean deal with signed– the people who executed it, Gallucci, Dan Poneman, Joe Wit wrote a book. And they quoted a general saying, “If there is a conflict,” called Going Critical, “there will be a million casualties.” A million casualties. Is that still a good estimate of what happens if– preemptive strike unfolds in North Korea, General?

HRM: You know, wa– one– one thing about war. It’s impossible oftentimes to predict. It’s always impossible to predict the future course of events. Because war is a continuous interaction of opposites, a continuous interaction between your forces and those of the enemy. It– it involves not just the capability to use force, but also intentions and things that are just unknowable at the outset. And so I think it’s important to– to look at– range of estimates of what could happen, because it’s clear that at war, it’s– it’s unpredictable. And so you al– always have to ask the question, “What happens next? What are the risks? How do you mitigate those risks?” And– and obviously, you know, war is– is– is the most serious decision any leader has to make. And so what can we do to make sure we exhaust our possibilities and exhaust our– our other opportunities to accomplish this very clear objective of denuclearization of the peninsula short of war?

HH: If we were to go into a preemptive strike, General McMaster, of some sort, large, small, whatever, would we tell the Chinese before we did that in order to manage their expectations and to limit the possibility of a replay of the Korean War?

HRM: Well, I can– I can’t really talk about any details associated with operational plans or– or strategies. But– but– it would depend on the circumstances I guess—

HH: Have you– have you sat with the president and walked through how China might or might not react to a preemptive strike and how they unpredictably entered the war in the– in the first Korean War?

HRM: Well, as– as a rule, we don’t talk about deliberations with the– with the president, but he’s been very much involved and– and has– has been– deeply briefed, you know, on– on all aspects of the– the strategy– on North Korea.

HH: How concerned should the American people be that we are actually on the brink of a war with North Korea?

HRM: Well, I think– I think it’s– it’s impossible to overstate the danger associated with this. Right, the, so I think it’s impossible to overstate the danger associated with a rogue, brutal regime, I mean, who murdered his own brother with nerve agent in a p– in– in an airport. I mean– I mean, think– think about what he’s done– in terms of his– his own brutal repression of not only members of his regime but his own family.

HH: That’s a prison camp run by the Mafia with nuclear weapons.

HRM: As one author has called it, it’s an “impossible state.” Right?

HH: Or as the chief of staff said, “Just because all the choices are terrible doesn’t mean we don’t
have to choose.” Will this administration choose or will it, as some people said about the last
administration, “lead from behind,” when it comes to North Korea?

HRM: Well, there’s a big difference, right? There’s a big difference in the situation that President
Trump inherited from previous administrations. It’s worse. Situation’s worse. Whereas before
there’s– there’s been this cycle over the years as you– as you know, from demanding that—
that— that North Korea stop its missile program, stop its nuclear program. After those demands,
pressure is brought on the regime. The regime then says, “Oh, I would like to talk.” And then
there– then there’s long, drawn-out negotiations during which the North Korean regime
continues to work on its program. And then a weak agreement is decided upon, which then North
Korea immediately violates, right? Okay, so that’s, so we’re just not gonna repeat that failed
cycle. We can’t do it. And so the– the, it has progressed too far as you’ve seen with these recent
missile tests. And as you’ve seen– they’ve done five nuclear tests. And so– so I– I think what
you’ll see increasingly is that a rec– this is a recognition that North Korea is a global threat. It
requires global action. And so what– what are you seeing now? You’re seeing countries expel
North Korean, so-called “guest workers,” who– who they export overseas to send money back to
the regime. You’re seeing squeezing of a lot of their other illicit activities globally. You’re seeing
economic sanctions now being enforced more rigorously. And so that’s the path everybody needs
to be on. This isn’t, this is a problem for the United States. It is. But this is a big problem for, not
only Japan, South Korea, but also Russia, China, everybo– ever– of course, all of our allies are
with this on us.

HH: The– the– Reuters had a story earlier this week. Two U.S. officials, senior officials confirm
that, “The I.C.B.M.s that North Korea tested can reach anywhere in the United States.” Can you
confirm that, General?

HRM: No. (LAUGH) I’m not gonna confirm it. But– it’s– it is– but, as I mentioned really, I
mean, it’s– the, whether it could reach– you know– San Francisco or– or Pittsburgh or
Washington, I mean, how much does that matter, right? It’s– it’s a grave threat.

HH: Does South Korea need its own nuclear deterrent?

HRM: Well, here’s, this is what’s an important, this is a very important question, right. And—and
of course, it’s– it’s– it’s U.S., United States extended deterrence, nuclear deterrence extended to
our allies that has been really a key to the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons. If that regime is
broken, that nonproliferation regime is broken, it’s bad news for everybody. And so imagine now
a Northeast Asia with a nuclear armed North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, right? All of– all countries– (UNINTEL)

HH: Pakistan and India, yeah.

HRM: And so, is that what China wants? Is that what Russia wants? No. I mean, so it is in all of
our interest to insure that North Korea denuclearizes.

HH: Last North Korea question. Is there a red line about which K.J.U. should know?

HRM: Well, you know, President Trump’s been very clear about this, right? That– that he does
not advance, he does not announce red lines in– in advance. But I– I think his overall intention
is very clear, to insure that North Korea does not have the capability to threaten the United States
with a nuclear weapon.

HH: Let me turn to Afghanistan, General. You fought there. You know it. Is there a strategic
plan on the table that’s been adopted by the president yet?

HRM: So what we– what we have is a number of decisions the president has made. You know,
’cause he– he has said, “I want to prioritize the safety and security of the American people.” And
he wants to destroy I.S.I.S. wherever they are. There’s– there’s a tremendously successful
campaign going on with Afghan forces on the– in the lead. It’s an unreported campaign in
Nangarhar Province of the g– Afghanistan. The president has said that, “He does not want to
place restrictions on the military that undermine our ability to win battles in combat.” He has
lifted those restrictions, and you’re beginning to see the payoff of that– as well. The—the
president has also made clear that he, that we need to see a change in– in behavior of those in the
region, which includes– those who are providing safe haven and support bases for the Taliban,
Haqqani Network and others. This is Pakistan in particular that we want to– that we want to
really see a change in– in– in– and– and a reduction of their support– for– for these– for these
groups. I mean, this is– of course, you know, a very paradoxical situation, right, where Pakistan
is taking great losses. They have fought very hard against these groups, but they’ve done so
really only selectively. And he’s—

HH: But there—

HRM: He’s also said– “Others have to share the burden.”

HH: There have been some hard hits in Kabul. Do you have confidence yourself in General
Nicholson, the combatant commander in Afghanistan?

HRM: Oh, of– of course. I’ve known him for many years. I can’t imagine a more– more capable
commander in any– in– in any, on any mission.

HH: Does Secretary Mattis? Does the president?

HRM: Absolutely.

HH: All right. Does the president have some concern with minerals and China’s exploitation of
them, where they’re taking the wealth of the country even as we pay in the (UNINTEL)?

HRM: Sure. Right– right. So– so here, this is– this is something that the, I think the president
has focused all of us on– is– is that if– if the United States is going to invest blood and treasure
on behalf of– of partners, allies, then we ought to expect favorable treatment or at least equal
treatment with competitors economically. And this is not to extract anything, but this is just to
insure that– that if– if– if we are– we are helping– a country, if we are engaged with partners
from a security perspective to– to solidify that relationship, we oughta have a mutually
beneficial economic relationship as well.

HH: You’ll recall that President Obama froze sort of in his Afghanistan review at the beginning
of his administration. President Trump doesn’t want to compare unfavorably with that. When is a
decision coming on the “strategery”– to use a quote from George W. Bush on what we’re gonna
do in Afghanistan?

HRM: Oh. Well, the– well the president’s already made some important decisions on
Afghanistan. He said– he said, listen—

HH: Troop levels and that– that—

HRM: But, you know, but we’re not gonna talk tactics anymore, right? Everything—everything
before was, you know, troop levels and– and– very specific details and– announcing to the
enemy years in advance exactly the number of troops you’re gonna have, exactly what they’re
gonna do and what they’re not gonna do. And so the president has said, that “That is not the way
to fight a war. It never has been.” This is an invention of recent years.

HH: So don’t look for a billboard. Don’t look for an announcement of what we’re gonna be doing
there? Because doesn’t that—

HRM: No.

HH: Don’t you need to sell it to the American people?

HRM: No. I think what, I think there are two things that the American people ought to
understand, and– and that– that– that we all have to talk about. The first is, what is at stake? All
right, what are the stakes in Afghanistan? And the second is, what is the strategy that—that
secures an outcome consistent with the vital interests of the American people? And– and an
outcome that is worthy of the sacrifices– that– that our servicemen and women are making, and-
and the– and– and the tremendous efforts, right, and the risks that they– that they take. And so
that– that’s the answer that– that’s the answer that– that you’ll hear, essentially you’ve heard in
pieces. And what we’re endeavoring to do is pull this all together in a regional strategy that
makes sense. Right, so that we, so that our Secretary of State has laid a very strong foundation
for this. What we’ve had in Afghanistan for years is a disconnected strategy. What we’re doing
militarily was disconnected from what we’re trying to achieve politically. So you say to the
Taliban, “Hey, let– let– let’s see what we can do to accommodate some of your concerns, so we
can end the violence. And by the way, we’re leaving.” And how does that work? And how does it
work when– when your enemy believes that they are ascendant militarily, if you’re trying to—to
– to negotiate some of an agreement? It doesn’t work. You know, and how d– how does it—how
does it work that you’re not connected with what you’re doing into– inside of Afghanistan to
what you want to achieve regionally? And in particular, to engage other na– countries in the
region to play a more productive role or a less destructive role in some cases.

HH: General, you know, I– I’ve talked to Secretary Rumsfeld often, former President Bush, Vice
President Cheney, about their years in the White House and the failure to communicate, over
-communicate with the American people about what the hell we were doin’ and where we were
goin’. Is that going to be a problem in Team Trump as well, on what you just said, but elaborated
by Secretary Mattis, by the president, by you? I very much appreciate you’re doin’ this, because
that’s part of the solution. But is that gonna be a problem again going forward? The inability of
the public to understand what the heck we’re goin’ to and for?

HRM: Yeah. I– I think what the, I think the American public understand, you know, what the—
what the stakes are there. I mean, it, obviously it’s etched in so many of our memories that—that
the– the mass murder attacks against our nation on September 11th, 2001, originated right from-
from Afghanistan, from a Taliban regime that gave safe haven and support bases to Al Qaeda.
And so there’s a recognition that– that– that effort, our efforts really to enable to Afghan forces.
I mean, Americans don’t realize really the Afghan Army suffered 6,700 soldiers killed in action
last year. So who’s doing that, who’s doing the bulk of the fighting? The Afghans are. The
question the president has asked us is, “What more can we do to enable them?” He doesn’t want
to take the war over. The Afghans are fighting a war for their country. And so, what more can we
and others do in– in– in– and– what– what burdens, responsibilities can the United States and
allies and partners share such that the Afghan government, the, its security forces can succeed
against this enemy of all civilization?

HH: Let’s talk about Russia, General. The day before the president signed the sanctions bill, the
vice president gave a speech in Estonia, which had a very succinct summary of our policy
towards Russia. And he said, “The sanctions will not come off until the behaviors which
triggered them are over.” Does that mean they’re in place until Russia withdraws from Crimea?
‘Cause I don’t ever see that happening.

HRM: Yeah. Well, what you– what you see is– broad range of destabilizing behavior on the part
of the Russians and provocative behavior. You know, not– not just in– in Europe but elsewhere.
And so what the– what the president has asked us to do is, and– and the secretary of state is
doing is to– is to counter Russia’s destabilizing behavior where it affects our interests. To—to
take actions to deter any– any– escalation of conflicts or anything that could lead to a
confrontation. ‘Cause I mean, this is what we’ve been avoiding, right, since, you know, since
1945 with first the Soviet Union and– and now Russia. I mean, what the United States has done
since 1945 from a defense and national security perspective is, prevent great power conflict for
really an unprecedented period of time. Right? And then but the third thing he’s asked us to do is
look for areas of cooperation with Russia. Right? There are areas as, and I mean, this—this
relationship is at bottom. Right? It’s– it’s– it’s at its nadir, right? So but– but there are still areas
where interests overlap and to look for areas of cooperation.

HH: But those sanctions and the– Russia’s in Eastern Ukraine. And the– there is a package
allegedly, according to the Wall Street Journal of armament proposals coming to the president.
You see– have you reviewed that yet, by the way, of the– proposal to arm the Ukrainians
against the rebels?

HRM: We’re already giving support to Ukraine. A lot of this is– is really what kinda support
they need to be able to prevent, you know, fur– further invasions of their territory, to be able
to—to– to prevent– any kind of agr– you know, aggressive of offensive action, right, against
the rest of Ukraine. So what you have is you have—

HH: And anti-tank weapons now?

HRM: You have g– well, it’s– it’s, well, I– I think it’s, what’s useful to talk about is d—
defensive capabilities. Does Ukraine desire, need– based on the situation there, greater defensive
capability? I mean, I– I don’t know what that, you know, what that is specifically. It really
doesn’t matter what it is specifically. But that’s one of the things that we’re looking at is, what
form of support Ukraine needs that’s consistent with our interests and everyone’s desire to insure
that Russia doesn’t undertake further destabilizing or– or offensive action that– that could lead
to– much broader conflict? I mean, this is a dangerous situation, but we have to recognize it’s a
dangerous sit– situation of Russia’s creation. Right? And so what we’re endeavoring to do with
our allies– is– is to do everything we can to prevent that conflict from growing.

HH: Does the president have a clear-eyed understanding of the nature of his counterpart in
Russia and the nature of the regime?

HRM: The– the nature of the Russian regime?

HH: Yes.

HRM: Well, I mean, I think everybody’s pretty clear on– on that, right? The nature of the
Russian regime is one person, isn’t it? I mean, s– so– so I– I think– I think– you have—you
have an– an autocratic regime and– and an individual who’s– who’s an extraordinarily effective
job at con– at consolidating power. And you have, I think someone who is active in a way that—
that, you know, I mean, I’m not the best judge of this maybe. But it– it– it is not in the interest of
the Russian people. And– and you see that with the– the reaction from the world, right? In terms
of the sanctions that are placed on Russia and– and a recognition that Russia must play a much
more responsible role in the world– if it’s going to be a full-fledged, welcomed member of the
international community. And, you know, we’re talking obviously about the annexation of
Crimea, the invasion of Ukraine here.

HH: The attack on our election—

HRM: But– but– but also the attack on– on– on our election, the attack, the s– the very
sophisticated campaign of subversion and disinformation and– and propaganda that is ongoing
every day in an effort to break apart Europe and to pit– pit– political groups against each other,
right? To sow dissention and– and– and conspiracy theories. And then, of course, there’s the
support for this murderous regime in Syria, and– and it’s support for really Iran’s objectives in
the Middle East. And so– so I think it, obviously for this range of destabilizing behaviors there
have to be consequences. But does that prevent us from cooperating with them, to maybe begin
to resolve the Syrian civil war and– and end part, at least a portion of that human suffering? Or
where else would our, do it our, where– where– do– where else do our interests align?
Certainly, they should align on North Korea.

HH: Let me conclude, General McMaster, and thanks for the time, by talking about your role in
the White House and the White House generally. “Reset,” according to– Administrator Shulkin
who was on my program this week, Cabinet Member Shulkin. He said, “There was a reset at the
cabinet meeting– this week. And– General Kelly’s arrival has really changed the nature and tone
of the White House.” Do you agree with that? What does General Kelly’s arrival mean?

HRM: Well, what General Kelly’s arrival means is you have an extraordinarily talented leader
with a broad range of experience. And people of course see– retired Marine Corps General, and
they recognize that he has– an extraordinary record of– of accomplishment within the military.
But he also has a broad range of experience now outside the– the military as– in Homeland
Security, where he took over a very complex organization and made tremendous progress
advancing the president’s agenda, and– and our national interests in, as a cabinet secretary. But
also, he’s someone who has had extraordinary experience, oversees complex environments,
complex environments which entail operating with– with people from all departments and
agencies, with indigenous leadership, with allies. And he also has a lot of experience on the Hill
as well. And so, in terms of experience level, you know, demeanor, leadership ability, it’s gonna
be great for all of us I think in terms of improving our ability to operate together as a team. Now,
you know, there, a lot of the conventional wisdom was, you know, “Gosh, you know, it’s chaotic
over there in the White House and everything else.” I’ll– I’ll just tell you that I am very proud of-
of– of our national security team overall. And that’s with here, that’s what’s—

HH: And you’ve seen real chaos commanding in Northern Iraq, commanding in Afghan—I
mean, you’ve seen the chaos of war. (LAUGH) Compared to that, do you, it’s not a chuckling
matter, but when you hear stories of chaos, isn’t that kind of absurd compared to the real thing?

HRM: Right– right– right. And– and what we’re doing is we’re delivering what we’re calling in
— “integrated strategies” based on the president’s guidance. And so what we had, and this is
maybe understandable. And this is, I don’t mean this in a pejorative sense. But the– but the
White House and the National Security Council as part of that became very tactically focused.
You know, it became very operational, with supervising things like troop numbers and– and—
specific authorities. And– and– and what we’ve been able to do is to evolve authorities back to
where they belong. And instead of thinking about tactics, the next little move, we’ve been trying
to view problem sets and opportunities through the lens of our vital national interests, establish
goals. Imagine that. Establish goals for our– our foreign policy and national security strategies.
And then– and then– and then– to find more specific objectives and then orient our efforts,
political, military, economic, toward accomplishing those objectives.

HH: Very last question. Your famous book, Dereliction of Duty. I read the last chapter again last
night. When you talk about McNamara and Ball and Dean Rusk, and you were very critical of
them for not giving the president candid, straightforward advice, limiting options. Were you
naïve at the time, now that you’re livin’ that life? I mean, would you rewrite that chapter
differently now that you’re livin’ that life in the middle of giving the president advice?

HRM: No. I wouldn’t rewrite a word of it. And– and– and I think actually my experiences have
just amplified I think for me the importance of doing– doing our duty, all of us doing our duty—
to– to give the president our– our best advice. Right? And so what we do here in the National
Security Council is– is we integrate the efforts of all of the departments and agencies and
sometimes efforts of our multinational partners to provide options to the president. And then
once the president makes a decision, we help drive sensible and effective execution of– of—of
his decisions. And so I had the– the tremendous benefit, was a real gift to me, right, to have the
opportunity to– to research, read and write about a previous difficult period in history from the
lens of– of the– the president and his key advisors, civilian and military advisors. And so I think
that has– has helped. Doesn’t give me any answers, right? But it’s helped me ask the right
questions and– and– and to make sure that, you know, that I, at least give it my best shot or I try
to do my best for the president and the nation.

HH: General H.R. McMaster, thank you for your time this morning.

HRM: Thank you, Hugh. It was a pleasure to be with you. Thank you.


On the Latest UN Report Claiming ISIS Fighters Aren’s Really Muslim,

August 6, 2017

On the Latest UN Report Claiming ISIS Fighters Aren’s Really Muslim, The Point (Front Page Magazine), Daniel Greenfield, August 6, 2017

The “Islamic State Isn’t Islamic” meme has always been an absurdity. But it’s also vitally necessary as ISIS becomes the dominant Sunni Islamic terror group. And makes no apologies for its atrocities.

The United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism report being touted in the media is a classic exercise in Jihad-denial. It’s the same old Islamist narrative full of Orwellian claims that ISIS fighters really lacked a solid grounding in Islam. If only there were more mosques, study of Islam, etc, Muslim terrorists would be less likely to turn to terrorism.

It goes without saying that this is the standard Brotherhood line. And it turns reality on its head.

The report is based on interviews and highly subjective. It’s based on 43 interviews. It’s unclear how much of a conclusion you can draw about thousands of fighters from around the world based on 43 people. And those ISIS Jihadists willing to participate in such a thing are already a self-selecting group.

Claims that these fighters were generally low down on the economic and educational ladder only sound meaningful until you consider that’s true of Muslims in Europe and the Middle East in general. It’s as significant as rain in Seattle.

Understanding of Islam is also relative.

The real question has never been whether ordinary fighters are experts in Sharia law. They’re not expected to be. Islamic law is a dense and complex subject. And ordinary Muslims are expected to rely on Islamic rulings. It’s the Islamic knowledge of the ISIS leadership. Ground troops in any cause are not expected to be wealthy or experts in a topic.

Furthermore the insistence by the study that ISIS’ actions are un-Islamic itself demonstrates either an ignorance of Islamic law or a desire to obscure it.

The study is largely an excercise in denying the obvious. And pointing Western governments toward the same blind alley of deradicalization through more government programs rather than addressing the Islamic source of the problem.

After Six Months, a Shocking Clarity

August 6, 2017

After Six Months, a Shocking Clarity, American ThinkerJames G. Wiles, August 6, 2017

But for now, the current crisis is not some political sideshow for the annual August “silly season.”  It is a struggle over who controls the government of the United States.


Perhaps one James Woods said it best on Twitter (@realjameswoods) over the weekend: “I’ve never witnessed such hatred for a man who is willing to work for free to make his beloved country a better place. It is pathological.”

Mr. Woods did not exaggerate.  The last time the United States saw such a wholesale refusal to accept the result of a national election – and to overturn it – the year was 1861.

As the Trump administration moves past its 200th day in office, we have arrived at a moment of extreme clarity.  It is even – even by the standards of Watergate (which did not start, remember, until President Richard Nixon’s second term) – unprecedented in the history of the American Republic.

Just consider what we’ve learned since January 20 – and especially in the last two weeks.

1. Persons holding top positions in our national government (including its national security apparatus) are seeking to force the removal of an American president lawfully elected less than a year ago.  To achieve that goal, they have shown themselves willing to compromise the national security of the United States, including the conduct of its foreign affairs, and to commit serious felonies.

2. The MSM has united with these criminals (that is what the leakers of classified information are) in seeking to achieve this goal.  In particular, they are willing to facilitate achieving their objective by publishing information they know has been leaked to them in violation of federal law.

3. Democratic elected officials, at all levels of federal, state, and local government, oppose all aspects of the president’s agenda, upon which he was elected, and vigorously seek to block its implementation.  They have made no secret (thank you, Maxine Waters) that, if given control of Congress again, they will impeach and remove the president and, possibly, the vice president.

4. In a return to the days of the George W. Bush administration, the left is using “lawfare” (litigation for its own sake) to obstruct or defeat implementation of the president’s agenda, upon which he was elected.  A blog,, offers daily info.  Another blog, The Intercept, promotes leaks of classified and other information.

5. For the first time since the Vietnam War years, there is a national mobilization – calling itself the Resistance – that can put people onto the streets and, occasionally, is willing to use mob violence in furtherance of its goals of ousting this president and stifling free speech.  Democratic elected officials have tolerated that violence.

6. Some Republicans in Congress have joined the Resistance.  Many more, even where they deplore the  Resistance, openly (or privately) oppose this president’s announced agenda, upon which he was elected.

7. Some Republicans in the Senate and the House who, for the last seven years, voted to repeal Obamacare, in fact, have refused to repeal it now that  a Republican president is in the White House who would sign such a repeal.

8. Prominent conservative media outlets and opinion leaders, such as Erick Erickson of,, the National Review and Bill Kristol’s Weekly Standard, oppose this president, hope for his removal or resignation from office and are, moreover, prepared to defend these national security breaches (which are occurring in an attempt to achieve that goal) asregrettable but necessary and to praise those who commit them.

In a signed editorial, Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard wrote on Friday (emphasis added):

Short-lived White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci was an utterly forgettable political hack. But he said one thing before he was dismissed that’s worth reflecting on: “There are people inside the administration that think it is their job to save America from this president. Okay?” Scaramucci was right about that. We know these people, and we admire them. We wish them every success.

9. Former Bush speech writer David Frum, writing in the Atlantic this week, both deplored and rationalized the leak of transcripts of presidential phone calls to foreign leaders.  Yes, he said, it’s illegal and compromises national security.  But it’s really Trump’s fault for making such breaches necessary.

Frum said (emphasis added):

The risk of national-security establishment overreach looms even larger. The temptation is obvious: Senior national-security professionals regard Trump as something between (at best) a reckless incompetent doofus and (at worst) an outright Russian espionage asset. The fear that a Russian mole has burrowed into the Oval Office may justify, to some, the most extreme actions against that suspected mole.

The nature of this particular leak suggests just such a national-security establishment origin.

10. It is quite obvious, in short, that the president of the United States has good reason to believe that he is, literally, being spied on in his own White House, by members of his own staff and by others elsewhere in the Executive Branch – especially including the national security apparatus.  And, furthermore, that his most confidential communications are not secure.

11. This exceeds, by some orders of magnitude, the national security threat faced by President Richard Nixon and national security adviser Henry Kissinger within the Nixon White House in 1970 and 1971.

Those are facts.  What does it all mean?

First, it means that next year’s congressional elections have grown enormously in importance since January 20.  The president will struggle to enact his agenda unless he has more allies on the allies on the Hill.

Second, it will probably take at least two full terms for the president to purge the Executive Branch.

But those are just politics and elections.  Here’s what should be concerning now:

If this pattern of the last six months continues, there will develop a real threat to the Republic and to the survival of democratic government.  While the national security threats the United States is presently facing – North Korean ICBMs, Chinese man-made islands in the South China Sea, and an expansive Russia – are serious and pressing, the most serious threat may be within.

We may be confronting a national security threat comparable to that which the United States (unknowingly) faced in the 1940s when American communists and fellow travelers penetrated the federal government, the Executive Branch, and the White House.  It was pooh-poohed at the time, called a “witch hunt” and a “Red Scare,” but, decades later,  the release of the Venona Intercepts and the opening of Soviet archives after the fall of the Soviet Union confirmed that, in fact, Soviet penetration of the highest levels of the U.S. government had occurred – and resulted in the loss of state secrets.

Here, there can be no dispute. The proof is appearing every day in our American media.

Attorney General Sessions is, therefore, amply justified in pursuing prosecution of the source(s) of these national security leaks – and, if necessary, targeting their media enablers.

The question of whether an American Deep State exists can be deferred until another time.  May cooler heads prevail until then.

But for now, the current crisis is not some political sideshow for the annual August “silly season.”  It is a struggle over who controls the government of the United States.

Chaos and order in a changing world

August 6, 2017

By Dr Henry Kissinger

Source: Chaos and order in a changing world – CapX

Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images

Lady Thatcher was one of the most significant leaders of our period. Decisive, effervescent, courageous, loyal, she was dedicated to shaping the future rather than following the recommendations of focus groups.

I first met her in the early 1970s, when she was serving as Minister of Education in the Cabinet of Edward Heath. At our first meeting, Mrs Thatcher conveyed her disdain for the then conventional wisdom that political contests were about winning the centre. For her, leadership was the task of moving the political centre towards defined principles rather than the other way around.

In implementing this philosophy, she generated over a long career a new political direction in her society. She did so by a combination of character and courage: character because the seminal choices demanded by the political process are usually taken in a very narrow passage; and courage to go forward on a road not travelled before.

Margaret Thatcher displayed these attributes articulately in the Findley address at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, the site of Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech 50 years earlier. She put forward challenges which, in their essence, are even more urgent today:

  • Should Russia be regarded as a potential threat or a partner?
  • Should NATO turn its attention to “out of area” issues?
  • Should NATO admit the new democracies of Central Europe with full responsibilities as quickly as prudently possible?
  • Should Europe develop its own “defense identity” in NATO?

Two decades after Lady Thatcher’s prescient address, the transatlantic world faces another set of issues of comparable nature. The world order the West created to end its Thirty Years’ War in 1648 was based on the notion of sovereignty of states secured by a balance of power between a multiplicity of entities. It now confronts concepts of order drawn from different historical and cultural experiences and involving visions of continental or universal religious dimensions. So the long-term issue becomes whether these issues are to be resolved by the maxims of the nation-state or new, more globalised concepts, and with what consequences for the future world order. Let me do so by adapting Lady Thatcher’s challenges to our circumstances.


The Russian challenge—Lady Thatcher’s first question—today focuses on Ukraine and Syria but reflects a deeper alienation. Stretching with eleven time zones from Europe along the borders of Islam to the Pacific, Russia has developed a distinct conception of world order. In its perennial quest for security along vast boundaries with few natural demarcations, Russia has evolved what amounts to a definition of absolute security, which verges on absolute insecurity for some of its neighbours.

At the same time, Russia’s geo-strategic scale, its almost mystic conception of greatness, and the willingness of its people to endure hardship have helped over the centuries to preserve the global equilibrium against imperial designs by Mongols, Swedes, French, and Germans. The result for Russia has been ambivalence—a desire to be accepted by Europe and to transcend it simultaneously. This special sense of identity helps explain President Putin’s statement that, “The demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.”

Putin’s view of international politics is often described as a recurrence of 1930s European nationalist authoritarianism. More accurately, it is the heritage of the worldview identified with the novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky, as exemplified in his 1880 speech at the dedication of a monument to the poet Pushkin. Its passionate call for a new spirit of Russian greatness based on the spiritual qualities of the Russian character was taken up in the late 20th century by Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

Abandoning his exile in Vermont to return to Russia, Solzhenitsyn, in his book On the Russian Question, called for action to save the Russian people who had been “driven out” of Russia. In the same spirit, Putin has railed against what he has interpreted as a 300-year-old Western effort to contain Russia. In 2007 in a Dostoevskyan-like outburst at the Munich Security Conference, he accused the West of having unjustly exploited the troubles of post-Cold War Russia to isolate and condemn it.

How should the West develop relations with Russia, a country that is a vital element of European security but which, for reasons of history and geography, has a fundamentally different view of what constitutes a mutually satisfactory arrangement in areas adjacent to Russia. Is the wisest course to pressure Russia, and if necessary to punish it, until it accepts Western views of its internal and global order? Or is scope left for a political process that overcomes, or at least mitigates, the mutual alienation in pursuit of an agreed concept of world order?

Is the Russian border to be treated as a permanent zone of confrontation, or can it be shaped into a zone of potential cooperation, and what are the criteria for such a process? These are the questions of European order that need systematic consideration. Either concept requires a defense capability which removes temptation for Russian military pressure.


Lady Thatcher’s query regarding out of area issues concerns in our day primarily China and the Middle East. China has launched its “Belt and Road Initiative” as a grand design with political, economic, cultural, and security implications from the East China Sea to the English Channel. It evokes memories of a lecture to the Royal Geographic Society in 1904 by Sir Halford Mackinder, who described the Eurasian Heartland as the geo-strategic pivot of the globe.

By seeking to connect China to Central Asia and eventually to Europe, the new Silk Road will in effect shift the world’s centre of gravity from the Atlantic to the Eurasian landmass. The road traverses an immense diversity of human cultures, nations, beliefs, institutions, and sovereign states. On it lie other great cultures—Russia, India, Iran, and Turkey—and at its extremity the nations of Western Europe, each of whom will have to decide if they will join it, cooperate with it, or oppose it, and in what forms. The complexities for international politics are as staggering as they are compelling.

The “Belt and Road Initiative” is being put forward in an international strategic environment that has been Westphalian, defined by the West’s philosophy of order. But China is unique, transcending the dimension of the Westphalian state: it is at once an ancient civilisation, a state, an empire, and a globalised economy. Inevitably, China will seek adaptation of international order compatible with its historical experience, growing power, and strategic vision.

This evolution will mark the third transformation of China in the last half-century. Mao’s brought unity, Deng’s brought reform, and now, President Xi Jinping is seeking to fulfil what he calls “the Chinese dream”, going back to the late Qing reformers, by realising “the two 100s”. When the People’s Republic of China enters its second hundred years in 2049, it will in Xi’s definition be as powerful as, if not more powerful than, any other society in the world and have the per capita GDP of fully developed countries.

In the process, the United States and China will become the world’s two most consequential countries both economically and geopolitically, obliged to undertake unprecedented adaptations in their traditional thinking. Not since it became a global power after World War II has the United States had to contend with a geopolitical equal. And never in China’s millennia-long history has it conceived of a foreign nation as more than a tributary to it, the Central or “Middle” Kingdom.

Both countries think of themselves as exceptional, albeit in fundamentally different ways: America sees spreading its values and system to other countries as part of its mission; China historically acted on the premise that the majesty of its performance would motivate other countries into a hierarchy based on respect.

In both countries, there exists many opinions about how to reconcile these differences of perspective —whether by the maxims of the nation-state or by new, more globalised concepts, some of which President Xi’s “Chinese dream” exemplify. For both societies — and the rest of the world — their co-evolution is a defining experience of the period.

What will the role of Europe be in such a world? As part of the Atlantic world or as an entity redefining itself and autonomously adjusting to the fluctuations surrounding it? As a component of a transatlantic arrangement? Or as a differential entity whose elements participate in a historic balance of power model? What kind of world order will depend on how transatlantic and “Road and Belt Initiative” concepts are synchronised?

The Middle East

In Eurasia and along Russia’s borders, world order is challenged by the consequences of consolidation. Around the periphery of the Middle East, it is threatened by the turmoil of dissolution. The Westphalian-based system of order that emerged in the Middle East at the end of the First World War is now in a shambles. Four states in the region have ceased to function as sovereign. Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen have become battlegrounds for factions seeking to impose their rule.

Across large areas of Iraq and Syria, an ideologically radical religious army, Isis, has declared itself a relentless foe of modern civilisation, seeking violently to replace the international system’s multiplicity of states with a single Islamic empire governed by Sharia law. In these circumstances, the traditional adage that the enemy of your enemy can be regarded as your friend no longer applies. In the contemporary Middle East, the enemy of your enemy may also be your enemy. The Middle East affects the world by the volatility of its ideologies as much as by its specific actions.

The outside world’s war with Isis can serve as an illustration. Most non-Isis powers—including Shia Iran and the leading Sunni states—agree on the need to destroy it. But which entity is supposed to inherit its territory? A coalition of Sunnis? Or a sphere of influence dominated by Iran? The answer is elusive because Russia and the Nato countries support opposing factions. If the Isis territory is occupied by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards or Shia forces trained and directed by it, the result could be a territorial belt reaching from Tehran to Beirut, which could mark the emergence of an Iranian radical empire.

The Western calculus has been complicated by the emerging transformation of Turkey, once a key moderating influence, from a secular state into an ideologically Islamic version. At once affecting Europe by its control over the flow of migrants from the Middle East and frustrating Washington by the movement of oil and other goods across its southern border, Turkey’s support of the Sunni cause occurs side by side with its efforts to weaken the autonomy of the Kurds, the majority of whose factions the West has supported heretofore.

The new role of Russia will affect the kind of order that will emerge. Is its goal to assist in the defeat of ISIS and the prevention of comparable entities? Or is it driven by nostalgia for historic quests for strategic domination? If the former, a cooperative policy of the West with Russia could be constructive. If the latter, a recurrence of Cold War patterns is likely. Russia’s attitude towards the control of current Isis territory, sketched above, will be a key test.

The same choice faces the West. It must decide what outcome is compatible with an emerging world order and how it defines it. It cannot commit to a choice based on religious groupings in the abstract since they are themselves divided. Its support must aim for stability and against whatever grouping most threatens stability. And the calculation should include the long term and not be driven by the tactics of the moment.

If the West stays engaged without a geo-strategic plan, chaos will grow. If it withdraws in concept or in fact—as has been the temptation over the past decade—great powers like China and India, which cannot afford chaos along their borders or turmoil within them, will gradually step into the West’s place together with Russia. The pattern of world politics of recent centuries will be overthrown.

Whither the Atlantic Alliance

These trends involve two implications for the Atlantic Alliance. Insofar as the upheavals on the continents threaten the balance of power, they represent a threat to security. But they also challenge the West to contribute to the building of a new world order. Article V of the Nato Charter defines what must be preserved; it cannot be the end product of Atlantic policy.

NATO was formed in 1949 to protect its members against direct assault by the Soviet Union. It has evolved since into a network of nations combining in various dimensions to react to internationally destabilising situations. But Nato has been more precise in its original objective than in its evolution; it is clearer about its defensive commitments than its role in contributing to world order.

Conceived as a deterrent to a threatening Soviet Union in the process of increasing its arsenal of nuclear weapons to supplement its numerically superior land forces, Nato has been both a legal obligation and an expression of the joint determination of the free nations of the West to enhance their values.

A tradition of American leadership resulted because the American nuclear arsenal has been the ultimate counterweight to Soviet military power. As the decades went by, the Alliance turned increasingly into a unilateral American guarantee rather than an agreed strategic concept relevant to the evolving world.

Lady Thatcher’s concept of the Atlantic Alliance was very different from current realities. She described it as in essence comprised of “America as the dominant power surrounded by allies which generally follow her lead”. This is no longer fully the case. The United States is not leading in the Thatcher mode, and the mindset of too many Europeans is to explore alternatives.

The realities of population, resources, technology, and capital assure a decisive global role for an involved America and a militarily engaged Europe. It will not, however, come about without an agreed strategic and political concept

In today’s rapidly changing world, Nato must engage in a permanent reexamination of its goals and capabilities. The shift in the structures that comprise the contemporary world order should impel Nato and its members to ask themselves: What changes other than the control of the territory of its members will it seek to prevent, and by what means? What are the political goals, and what means is it prepared to assemble?

So let me conclude by repeating the challenge Margaret Thatcher laid down in the Findley Lecture two decades ago:

“What is to be done? I believe that what is now required is a new and imaginative Atlantic initiative. Its purpose must be to redefine Atlanticism in the light of the challenges I have been describing. There are rare moments when history is open and its course changed by means such as these. We may be at just such a moment now.”

Lady Thatcher’s quote reflected, above all, an exhortation and the definition of a task. We are at an even more fraught juncture today.

This is an expanded version of remarks delivered by Dr Kissinger to the Margaret Thatcher Conference on Security, 2017 in June, as prepared for delivery

Dr Henry Kissinger was former Secretary of State and National Security Advisory under President Richard Nixon


Islamist Spies Infiltrating the West to Terrorize Christians

August 6, 2017

Islamist Spies Infiltrating the West to Terrorize Christians, Gatestone InstituteMajid Rafizadeh, August 6, 2017

It is critical to point out that the Islamist mission of radical Muslim organizations anywhere in the world is not limited to their city, country, or region. This is because they do not recognize “man-made” nation-state systems; they do not recognize boundaries and governments. They believe that the whole world, since its inception, is in reality the divine possession of Islam. They believe that states, particularly Western governments, have taken their Allah-given lands, eternally belonging to Islam; and that non-believers have wronged their God, Allah, by misrepresenting Moses, Abraham and Jesus to create false religions such as Judaism and Christianity. They believe it is their sacred mission to recapture, by any means, everything — the universe – which they believe has been taken from them.


A key mission clearly stipulated in Iran’s constitution, is to export its Islamist ideology, and actively ensure the continuous infiltration and expansion of Islamist values throughout the world. That is why the Revolutionary Guards established a special force, the Quds Force and Basij, with a publicly-announced mission of becoming engaged in extraterritorial operations — religiously, ideologically, militarily and politically.

These Islamist spies normally come to the West, and particularly the US, under various guises, including seeking education, engaging in research, or for health-related purposes. They target specific US embassies, universities, research centers, or hospitals to obtain visas. Their ability to present themselves as ideal candidates for help creates the appearance of safety; meanwhile, their intentions may be to cause widespread harm.

When Dehnavi was blocked at the Boston airport, many pro-Iranian regime agents in the US resorted to various methods, including using mainstream liberal media outlets, in an attempt to ensure his entrance into America. They devised a fake narrative of injustice and depicted this high-ranking Basiji military agent as an innocent man who should be allowed into the US. How was this man even able to obtain a US visa?

The continuing persecution, imprisonment, murder and torture of non-Muslims is now well-documented and visible on a daily basis. In particular, Christians, Jews, Yazidis, Kurds, Hindus and Baha’is are victimized under Islamist rule. This issue requires attention and correction, but it is not the only threat that is coming from these tyrannical state and non-state actors.

Islamist organizations are dispatching their agents beyond their borders, to the West, particularly the US, in order to monitor, threaten, and terrorize non-Muslims.

Recent reports from European refugee camps indicate that radical agents and spies, including from one of the most powerful Islamist establishments, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), have infiltrated Europe, in part to monitor Christians, particularly those who have fled their nations out of fear of torture, imprisonment and persecution.

IRGC leaders and its intelligence services have frequently boasted about having agents and spies in Washington, DC and other Western capitals. The IRGC’s major affiliates are the elite branch of the Quds Force and Basij, an ideological militia group.

One of the core missions of the IRGC, like other Islamist establishments, and as stipulated in Iran’s constitution, is to safeguard Islamic as well as revolutionary values (including anti-Semitic and anti-American principles) in their homeland. The other key mission which is also clearly stipulated in its constitution, is to export Iran’s Islamist ideology, and actively ensure the continuous infiltration and expansion of Islamists values throughout the world. That is why the IRGC established a special force, the Quds Force and Basij, with a publicly-announced mission of becoming engaged in extraterritorial operations — religiously, ideologically, militarily and politically.

It is critical to point out that the Islamist mission of radical Muslim organizations anywhere in the world is not limited to their city, country, or region. This is because they do not recognize “man-made” nation-state systems; they do not recognize boundaries and governments. They believe that the whole world, since its inception, is in reality the divine possession of Islam. They believe that states, particularly Western governments, have taken their Allah-given lands, eternally belonging to Islam; and that non-believers have wronged their God, Allah, by misrepresenting Moses, Abraham and Jesus to create false religions such as Judaism and Christianity. They believe it is their sacred mission to recapture, by any means, everything — the universe – which they believe has been taken from them.

“By any means” can include suicide attacks that slaughter hundreds, even thousands, of people, including Muslims; endless incitement to violence among strangers and neighbors, and all available ways of manipulating soft power.

These Islamist spies usually come to the West, and particularly the US, under various guises; these include seeking education, engaging in research, or for health-related purposes. They target specific US embassies, universities, research centers, or hospitals to obtain visas. Many people point out that these individuals also seek the assistance and sponsorship of the Iranian regime’s assets in the US to facilitate their process. Their ability to present themselves as ideal candidates for help creates the appearance of safety; meanwhile, their intentions may be to cause widespread harm.

Mohsen Dehnavi, for instance, was recently deported by US border officials. Dehnavi happened to be an Iranian military agent; an active and high-ranking member of the Basij; previously, head of the student branch of the Basij at Iran’s Sharif University; a loyalist to Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Iranian regime, and had personally received gifts from Khamenei.

US border officials recently deported Mohsen Dehnavi, an Iranian military agent who is an active and high-ranking member of the Basij paramilitary. He was previously head of the student branch of the Basij at Iran’s Sharif University (pictured above, photo by Behrooz Rezvani/Wikimedia Commons).

The life-long slogan of members of Basij is, “Death to America” and “Death to Israel“. A dedicated member of the Basij will closely monitor non-Muslims and do absolutely anything to please the Islamist Supreme Leader. There is no act of violence too great for the Basij. Those who commit murder are considered heroes of their faith. The Basij and the IRGC’s goal is violence, and the destruction of anyone with a belief different from their own.

How was this man even able to obtain a US visa?

In a surprising and rare move, US border officials did not automatically accept this Iranian’s US visa as a green light to enter the US. If it were not for their questioning and taking a second a look at his background, he would be operating freely in the US — with consequences that could have been tragic.

The question is: How many people like him already are already operating freely in the US, as IRGC officials repeatedly claim? An extremist Muslim Basiji such as Dehnavi has been charged with the mission of safeguarding Islamist values, suppressing dissidents, and closely monitoring non-Muslims, primarily Christians. When Dehnavi was blocked at the Boston airport, many pro-Iranian regime agents in the US resorted to various methods, including turning to mainstream liberal media outlets, in an attempt to ensure his entrance into America. They devised a fake narrative of injustice and depicted this high-ranking Basiji military agent as an innocent man who should be allowed into the US. Their goal was to manipulate the hearts of Americans, who would be willing to fight for this man’s cause and welcome him with open arms to the country that his organization has vowed to destroy.

Through steady, gradual infiltration, Islamist organizations create Islamist militias and proxies. The entrance to the US of Islamist agents, spies, and sympathizers with extremist institutions, such as Iran’s regime or the Muslim Brotherhood, should not be taken lightly; it should be monitored closely on different levels by US officials, consulates and embassies. Having an impressive resumé, having a scholarship or fellowship from an American institution, or even claiming to have defected from an Islamist organization does not mean that it is safe to hand someone a visa and allow him into the country. In addition, as above, even having a visa should not mean that border officials cease investigating — closely and meticulously — a person’s background for a second time.

Otherwise this trend is sure to grow — exponentially.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist, business advisor, and author of “Peaceful Reformation in Iran’s Islam“.