Posted tagged ‘Foreign Policy’

What Hath Barack Wrought?

January 8, 2017

What Hath Barack Wrought? PJ Media, Michael Walsh, January 7, 2017

obama-salman-saudi-sized-770x415xtObama and Saudi “king” Salman (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst – RTS77JX

Over at the Weekly Standard, my friend Lee Smith — one of the shrewdest voices in American journalism on the subject of the Middle East and foreign policy — takes the measure of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. It ain’t pretty:

The Obama chapter in American foreign policy ends like the climax of an action movie—with a fireball growing in the distance and filling the screen as a man in silhouette approaches in slow motion and then veers off camera. Barack Obama has set the Middle East on fire, and now it’s spreading.

The Obama administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran has emboldened the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, which now makes war openly in four Arab states (Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen) and is a growing threat to Israel and Saudi Arabia. The deal with Tehran that Obama boasts of as his signature foreign policy initiative guarantees, as the president himself acknowledged, that Iran will have an industrial-scale nuclear weapons program within 15 years.

After a 40-year absence from the Middle East, Russia has returned to the region, where it bombs Syria’s schools and hospitals as America and Europe watch helplessly. Washington’s traditional regional allies are scrambling to adjust to the new reality, which for the likes of Israel, Jordan, and Turkey means an opportunistic power on their borders that is allied with their existential enemies.

For Europe, the millions seeking refuge from the conflagration are agents of potential instability on the continent in the years to come; some in their midst are terrorists plain and simple. In just four years, or one presidential term, a civil uprising that started in Syria became a great Middle Eastern war over a host of sectarian, religious, and political hostilities dating back centuries.

Naturally, the country’s first affirmative action president doesn’t see it that way; no doubt, by his lights, he’s still every bit the equal of FDR and Abraham Lincoln he’s always thought himself to be. For a chief executive like Barack Hussein Obama, coddled practically from birth by a series of handlers, sycophants, media worshipers, excuse-makers and hagiographers, being an utter failure means never having to say you’re sorry.  The half-black president with the Muslim name was supposed to at least bring some cultural empathy to the thorny, if not to say intractable, problems of the Middle East — not just the eternal Arab-Israeli conflict but the even more eternal Muslim-Muslim conflict, not to mention the collateral damage of the one-sided Muslim-Christian conflict. That he hasn’t solved any of it is not his fault, but that he has exacerbated it most surely is.

Critics and even admirers of the president say that Syria will be a stain on his record. But that’s not how Obama sees it. The death and suffering of so many undoubtedly pains him, as he says. He says he wonders if he could have done anything else. Of course he could have, but he believed he had better reasons not to….

Obama’s foreign policy issued in part from his understanding of global realities but more from his interpretation of the American character. He believed that Americans tend to make a mess of things around the world. Obama is like a narrator in a Graham Greene novel; in our relations with the rest of humanity, as he sees it, we are 300 million naïfs abroad, whose intentions may be good but who lack the tragic sense that the rest of the world feels in its bones.

So who’s the naif now? Obama was less a Graham Green figure than Mark Twain’s Innocent Abroad. The way Smith sees it, Obama’s entire rationale was to wean America from what he saw as its shoot-first second nature; his entire foreign-policy apparatus became Dickens’ Circumlocution Office from Little Dorrit, dedicated to the proposition of How Not to Do It:

The Circumlocution Office was (as everybody knows without being told) the most important Department under Government. No public business of any kind could possibly be done at any time without the acquiescence of the Circumlocution Office. Its finger was in the largest public pie, and in the smallest public tart. It was equally impossible to do the plainest right and to undo the plainest wrong without the express authority of the Circumlocution Office. If another Gunpowder Plot had been discovered half an hour before the lighting of the match, nobody would have been justified in saving the parliament until there had been half a score of boards, half a bushel of minutes, several sacks of official memoranda, and a family-vault full of ungrammatical correspondence, on the part of the Circumlocution Office.

This glorious establishment had been early in the field, when the one sublime principle involving the difficult art of governing a country, was first distinctly revealed to statesmen. It had been foremost to study that bright revelation and to carry its shining influence through the whole of the official proceedings. Whatever was required to be done, the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the public departments in the art of perceiving — HOW NOT TO DO IT.

And that’s the Obama foreign policy in a nutshell. Of course in domestic affairs, the Choom Ganger from Punahou has been the exact opposite, baldly lying about such sub-rosa proclivities as same-sex marriage and hairy transvestites in the ladies’ loo until he was well past his final election. In both areas, however, he’s been a disgrace to the office and to the country, and we will be well rid of him when he finally leaves on Jan. 20.

Obama’s foreign policy, in the end, was not primarily about the rest of the world—it was about transforming the character of America. So where are we eight years on? Gelded, as he intended.

And, to coin a phrase, that’s one of the many reasons we now have Donald Trump. America never has been and never will be a neutered metrosexual among nations. As the Obama-ites are about to find out.

Facing North Korea and Iran, Trump Must Strengthen Nuclear Deterrence

January 3, 2017

Facing North Korea and Iran, Trump Must Strengthen Nuclear Deterrence, National Review, Tom Rogan, January 3, 2017

Ultimately, the nuclear issue is just one challenge the incoming Trump administration faces in foreign policy. The U.S. needs a new strategy of realist resolution. After years of Obama’s fraying credibility with allies and foes alike, the United States must resume leading. Kim Jong-un and Iranian supreme leader Khamenei are arrogant. If given an inch, they will walk the nuclear mile. And history tells us that great power and totalitarian zealots rarely blend positively.

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How President Trump should strengthen America’s ICBM-deterrence posture. Like Big Brother in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un holds absolute power. And Kim, the same as his father and grandfather, wants to forcibly unify the Korean peninsula under a xenophobic ideology of self-sufficiency.

Since the end of the Korean War, the Kims’ wacky “Juche” ideology has sparked Western laughter as much as fear. We have rightly assumed the Kims are deterred by their understanding that a conventional-arms conflict with America would destroy them. While the U.S. has had to occasionally reinforce this conventional deterrence, it has been sustained for 60 years.

Over the weekend, Kim Jong-un announced that the North’s development of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is advancing rapidly. Unless America appeases him, Kim warned, he will build a “preemptive striking capacity with a main emphasis on nuclear force.” Recently successful rocket tests suggest we should take Kim at his word.

Still, it’s not just North Korea the West should be concerned about here.

Today, alongside other malevolent activities, the Islamic Revolutionary Republic’s ballistic-missile research is advancing unabated. In his wisdom, President Obama decided to exclude a ban on such research from his legacy Iran deal. He lacked the threat-of-force credibility to compel the Iranians to cease their missile development. Unfortunately, when Iran perfects ballistic-missile technology, it will break the nuclear deal. By then, sanctions relief will have made Iran tens of billions of dollars richer.

Collectively, these developments threaten not just the stability of international peace, but the civilian population of the United States. They demand a robust response in U.S. nuclear-deterrent posture. President Trump should deliver it.

First, Trump should reform the Iran nuclear deal to include prohibitions on Iranian ballistic-missile development. This is the realist compromise between scrapping the nuclear deal entirely and attempting to make it work better.

Second, Trump should enforce a new, proactive strategy to deal with North Korea’s increasingly advanced ICBM program. Whereas, in the past, the U.S. has simply monitored North Korean missile tests, stronger action is now required. North Korean ICBMs demand it. After all, the base-minimum range of an ICBM is 3,400 miles. But seeing as 1960s-era Soviet and U.S. ICBMs easily exceeded 6,200-mile ranges, we must assume North Korean ICBMs will exceed the minimum range. And with just 125 miles more than the minimum, North Korea could strike Darwin, Australia. An extra 270 miles would put Anchorage, Alaska, in range. Hawaii, a little over 4,300 miles from North Korea, would also be vulnerable.

Countering this threat, Trump should supplement the U.S military’s multi-phase missile-defense programs. He should publicly announce that if the North tests an ICBM, he will establish three North Korea focused missile-test defense sectors. Trump should be clear that any North Korean ICBM that enters or passes these sectors will be shot down. U.S. military planners would, of course, fine-tune such proposals, but here’s one example of what the defense zones might look like.

Trump could establish a northern sector — focused on protecting Alaska — off the Japanese coast in the Sea of Okhotsk. Second, a western sector — focused on protecting Hawaii and the U.S. west coast — could be set up approximately 1,000 miles west of Midway Island, at the southern tip of the Emperor seamounts. Third, a southern sector — to protect Australia — could be established south of Palau Island between Papua and Papua New Guinea. These sectors should be maintained by U.S. Navy destroyers and cruisers (and hopefully allied assets), equipped with the Aegis missile-defense system.

Next, Trump should clarify his willingness, where facing imminent nuclear attack, to use nuclear weapons in a “first strike” role. That demand is urgent because President Obama has equivocated on this fundamental precept of U.S. nuclear-deterrent posture. Namely, the understanding that U.S. nuclear weapons serve both deterrence (preventing an attack) and capability (destroying an enemy). A retained first-strike capability is necessary to prevent the loss of millions — or tens of millions . . . or hundreds of millions — of American lives in a nuclear showdown. Yes, ideally, the U.S. would be able to use conventional non-nuclear capabilities to achieve that objective. But idealism is a dangerous master. For one, U.S. military pilots might not be able to penetrate enemy air defenses in time to prevent a ballistic-missile attack. Similarly, conventional bunker-busting bombs might not destroy enemy nuclear platforms.

Fourth, Trump should aggressively confront illicit ICBM research-and-development networks. Specifically, Trump should push Pakistan, Russia, and the former Soviet states to take action against smugglers in their nations. In the case of Pakistan and the former Soviet states, such action should be tied to U.S. aid payments. A philosophical evolution of U.S. tactics is equally important here. Put simply, instead of treating nuclear smuggling as a law-enforcement matter, the U.S. must be prepared to coerce or kill those who support the illicit nuclear industry. Fear is always the best guarantor against a nuclear holocaust.

Ultimately, the nuclear issue is just one challenge the incoming Trump administration faces in foreign policy. The U.S. needs a new strategy of realist resolution. After years of Obama’s fraying credibility with allies and foes alike, the United States must resume leading. Kim Jong-un and Iranian supreme leader Khamenei are arrogant. If given an inch, they will walk the nuclear mile. And history tells us that great power and totalitarian zealots rarely blend positively.

ISIS seizes big Russian-Syrian T-4 air base

December 12, 2016

ISIS seizes big Russian-Syrian T-4 air base, DEBKAfile, December 12, 2016

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Islamic State forces pushed their assault forward to retake the central Syrian town of Palmyra Monday, Dec. 12. By evening, they had entered the big Russian-Syrian T-4 air base outside the town, carrying off substantial quantities of Russian armaments. Reporting this, DEBKAfile’s military sources add that the booty they snatched included different types of ground-to-ground missiles as well as anti-tank and anti-air rockets.

Russian forces manning the base were hurriedly evacuated from Palmyra and the T-4 base, after the worst defeat Russian armed forces had ever experienced at ISIS hands in Syria. Military circles in Moscow commented grimly that the Russian army had suffered “a major disgrace” in Palmyra.

According to our sources, long convoys of ISIS fighters backed by tanks taken booty from the Syrian army, first forced the Syrian 11th Tank Division to abandon the strategic Jhar Crossroad. After that, the way was clear for the jihadis’ column to reach the T-4 base.

DEBKAfile reported on the ISIS terrorists’ fresh momentum Sunday.

Judging from the rash of reports claiming US-Iraqi military progress in the Mosul offensive against ISIS and the extra American special operations forces personnel posted to Syria for an impending US-Kurdish operation to capture the ISIS Syrian stronghold of Raqqa, the Islamic State ought to be cowering under siege, finally defeated – or at least on the run.

But the facts tell another story. ISIS is on the offensive – so far in the Middle East. Over the weekend, Islamist terrorists accounted for dozens of deaths and injured hundreds more.

Sunday, Dec. 11, at least 25 people worshipping at the Coptic St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s church adjacent to St, Mark’s cathedral in Cairo were killed and scores injured. The Coptic pope often leads the prayers there. DEBKAfile’s counterterrorism sources reveal that the attack was carried out by Islamist terrorists from Raqqa who bided their time until they struck in the Egyptian capital. Saturday, six Egyptian troops were killed by another Islamist bomb near the Giza pyramids.

On the same day, ISIS fighters pushed back into the ancient Syrian town of Palmyra, nine months after their expulsion.

The Raqqa terrorist stronghold is clearly alive and kicking on more than one front. A number of contributing factors enable the Islamic State to unleash a fresh spate of terror.

1. The US-Iraqi-Kurdish drive has stalled without driving ISIS out of Mosul or choking off the terrorist fighters’ freedom to move between Mosul and Raqqa, their Syrian bastion.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who arrived in Baghdad Sunday, Dec. 11, was assigned by the Obama administration to make a last effort to reactivate the Mosul campaign. His chances of success are slim. The military coalition which launched the campaign two months ago has lost a vital component, the Kurdish Peshmerga, which backed out three weeks ago. The Iraqi military units which captured some of the city’s outskirts stopped short when they reached the strongest defense lines set up by the Islamic State and have been unable to break through, even with US air support.

The pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiite front which undertook to seize Tal Afar in order to sever the ISIS connecting link between Iraq and Syria are parked outside, having been warned by Turkey not to set foot in the town.

Added to these setbacks, the US CENTCOM which is running the aerial war in Iraq is at loggerheads with the Iraqi Air Force command and has practically grounded all Iraqi warplanes.

Even if Carter can wave a magic wand and resolve all these issues, the momentum and high hopes that actuated the Mosul campaign when it started have been lost and can hardly be recovered before Barack Obama leaves the White House.

At least two of the incoming president Donald Trump’s designated security advisers – Defense Secretary Gen, James Mattis and National security Adviser Gen. Michael Flynn – have criticized the operation in is current form.

2. What is happening in Raqqa doesn’t fit the designation of an offensive. At most, small Kurdish and Syrian rebel groups are mounting sporadic raids against ISIS fighters on the town’s outskirts, with the support of the Obama administration. Our military experts say that Raqqa can’t be captured from the Islamist terrorists by conventional means – mainly because it is spread over a large area of mostly empty desert. ISIS has taken advantage of this terrain to distribute knots of defenders across a vast area ranging hundreds of kilometers from northern to eastern Syria up to the winding, heavily overgrown banks of the Euphrates River.

So when Ash Carter announced Saturday that he would be sending another 200 Special Operations Forces into Syria to join the battle for Raqqa, he had no idea that he, the Russians and the Syrians were about to be caught off guard by a fresh ISIS initiative to reoccupy Palmyra, the ancient Syrian two from which they are thrown out in March.

This was a poke in the eye for Russian President Vladimir Putin who proclaimed Palmyra’s capture from ISIS as a signal coup for the Russian army in its war on Islamist terror.

3.  He might well commiserate with Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi. For two years, the Egyptian armed forces have been fighting an uphill battle to crush the ISIS groups infesting the Sinai Peninsula. The jihadists constantly elude punishment with the help of supportive Bedouin tribes.

Every few months, they pose a real threat to the stability of the El-Sisi regime by striking inside Cairo, the capital, with some terrorist atrocity, for which they are aided by the Muslim Brotherhood underground and Palestinian Hamas extremists in the Gaza Strip.

The bombing of the Coptic church Saturday was unusually the work of jihadists deployed from Raqqa, Syria.  Egypt has reacted by placing extra guards at Christian sites and declaring three days of national morning for the disastrous bombing attack on Egypt’s largest minority.

The new Islamist drive is looking ominously like the onset of the Christmas-New Year holiday terror onslaught the Islamic State has threatened to unleash in the Middle East and beyond. US and European security services have been placed on high alert in the belief that returning jihadis are programmed to strike at home.

Trump Says He’s ‘A Smart Person,’ Doesn’t Need Daily Intelligence Briefings

December 12, 2016

Trump Says He’s ‘A Smart Person,’ Doesn’t Need Daily Intelligence Briefings, PJ MediaWalter Hudson, December 11, 2012

trump-primaries-sized-770x415xt

President-elect Donald Trump continues to defy convention and ruffle institutional feathers. In a wide-ranging interview with Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday,” Trump indicated he will delegate daily intelligence briefings to subordinates. From the Daily Mail:

“I get it when I need it,” [Trump] said on Fox News of the top-secret briefings sessions, adding that he’s leaving it up to the briefers to decide when a development represents a “change” big enough to notify him.

“I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years,” Trump said.

Read in excerpt like that, Trump’s remarks may come across as arrogant. He presumes that he will be in office for two terms, touts his own intellect, and downplays the importance of a critical presidential role.

However, when viewed in context [below], Trump’s position proves much less provocative. His “smart person” comment comes off less as a reference to some exclusive ability, and more like the standard capacity most of us have to remember something when first told. He could have just as easily said, “I’m not an idiot. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words.”

Trump went on to note that his generals and Vice President-elect Mike Pence will receive routine daily briefings, presumably including the redundancies he seeks to avoid. This is consistent with his articulated tendency to delegate tasks to “the best people.”

Trump also addressed bipartisan concerns regarding Russia’s influence in the election.

“It’s ridiculous,” Trump said of the CIA’s assessment [that that Russia tried to interfere with the presidential election].

[…]

Trump’s incoming chief of staff, Reince Priebus, shrugged off allegations that Russia helped Trump win.

He said: “The Russians didn’t tell Clinton to ignore Wisconsin and Michigan.”

The Democratic candidate was expected to win in these two states but they went to Trump instead.

“She lost the election because her ideas were bad. She didn’t fit the electorate. She ignored states that she shouldn’t have and Donald Trump was the change agent,” Priebus said on ABC’s ‘This Week’.

Priebus may be overstating the case when he says the election results “had nothing to do with the Russians.” But those claiming Russia’s influence was decisive likewise overstate their case.

It remains unclear what actionable conclusions could emerge from investigations into suspected Russian hacking. Indeed, given the likely role Hillary Clinton’s private email server played in any such hacking, Democrats might be wise to let the issue go.

Our World: Michael Flynn and what he means for Trump’s foreign policy

December 5, 2016

Our World: Michael Flynn and what he means for Trump’s foreign policy, Jerusalem PostCaroline B. Glick, December 5, 2016

(Please see also, Mosul offensive folds, waiting now for Trump. — DM)

flynnRetired U.S. Army Lt. General Michael Flynn in 2014. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Mattis argued that Iran’s nuclear program was far from the only threat Iran constituted to the US and its allies. By empowering Iran through the nuclear deal, Obama was enabling Iran’s rise as a hegemonic power throughout the region.

With Mattis and Flynn at his side, Trump intends to bring down the Iranian regime as a first step toward securing an unconditional victory in the war against radical Islam.

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In the US and around the world, people are anxiously awaiting US President-elect Donald Trump’s announcement of his choice to serve as secretary of state. There is no doubt that Trump’s choice for the position will tell us a great deal about the direction his foreign policy is likely to take.

But the fact is that we already have sufficient information to understand what his greatest focus will be.

Trump’s announcement last week that he has selected Marine General James Mattis to serve as his defense secretary is a key piece of the puzzle.

Mattis has a sterling reputation as a brilliant strategist and a sober-minded leader. His appointment has garnered plaudits across the ideological spectrum.

In 2013, US President Barack Obama summarily removed Mattis from his command as head of the US Military’s Central Command. According to media reports, Mattis was fired due to his opposition to Obama’s strategy of embracing Iran, first and foremost through his nuclear diplomacy. Mattis argued that Iran’s nuclear program was far from the only threat Iran constituted to the US and its allies. By empowering Iran through the nuclear deal, Obama was enabling Iran’s rise as a hegemonic power throughout the region.

Mattis’s dim view of Iran is shared by Trump’s choice to serve as his national security adviser. Lt. General Michael Flynn’s appointment has been met with far less enthusiasm among Washington’s foreign policy elites.

Tom Ricks of The New York Times, for instance, attacked Flynn as “erratic” in an article Saturday where he praised Mattis.

It is difficult to understand the basis for Ricks’ criticism. Flynn is considered the most talented intelligence officer of his generation. Like Mattis, Obama promoted Flynn only to fire him over disagreements regarding Obama’s strategy of embracing Iran and pretending away the war that radical Islamists are waging against the US and across the globe.

Flynn served under Obama as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He was fired in 2014 for his refusal to toe the administration’s mendacious lines that radical Islam is not the doctrine informing and inspiring the enemy, and that al-Qaida and its fellows are losing their war.

What Obama and his advisers didn’t want to hear about the US’s enemies and about how best to defeat them Flynn shared with the public in his recently published book Field of Fight, which he coauthored with Michael Ledeen, who served in various national security positions during the Reagan administration.

Flynn’s book is a breath of fresh air in the acrid intellectual environment that Washington has become during the Obama administration. Writing it in this intellectually corrupt atmosphere was an act of intellectual courage.

In Field of Fight, Flynn disposes of the political correctness that has dictated the policy discourse in Washington throughout the Bush and Obama administrations. He forthrightly identifies the enemy that the US is facing as “radical Islam,” and provides a detailed, learned description of its totalitarian ideology and supremacist goals. Noting that no strategy based on denying the truth about the enemy can lead to victory, Flynn explains how his understanding of the enemy’s doctrine and modes of operation enabled him to formulate strategies for winning the ground wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

And win them he did. As he explains in his book, Flynn oversaw the transformation of the US’s strategies for fighting in both theaters from strategies based on top-down decapitation of the enemy’s leadership to a groundup destruction of the terrorist networks.

Flynn’s strategy, which worked in both countries, was based on the premise that it wasn’t enough to kill “high value” targets. The US needed to develop a granular understanding of the terrorist networks from the village level up the line. Only by taking out the local terrorist leaders would the US be able to destroy the ability of the likes of al-Qaida, the Iranian-controlled Shi’ite militias and the Taliban to quickly mobilize new forces and reignite fighting shortly after every successful US operation.

Flynn’s book contributes three essential insights to the discussion of the global jihad. First, he explains that the Bush and Obama administrations were both unable to translate military victories on the ground into strategic victories because they both refused to join their military war with a war of ideas.

The purpose of a war of ideas is to discredit the cause for which the enemy fights. Without such a war, on the one hand the American people sour on the war because they don’t understand why it is important to win. On the other hand, without a war of ideas directed specifically at the Islamic world, Muslims worldwide have continued to be susceptible to recruitment by the likes of ISIS and al-Qaida.

As Flynn notes, the popularity of radical Islam has skyrocketed during the Obama years. Whereas in 2011 there were 20,000 foreign recruits fighting for ISIS in Iraq and Syria, by 2015, the number had risen to 35,000.

Flynn’s second contribution is his forthright discussion of the central role the Iranian regime plays in the global jihad. Flynn chronicles not only Iran’s leadership of the war against the US in Iraq and Afghanistan. He shows that their cooperation is global and predates 9/11 by several years.

Flynn recalls for instance that in 1996 British troops confiscated an al-Qaida training manual written by Iranian intelligence in a terrorist training facility in Bosnia. Six Iranian “diplomats” were arrested at the scene.

Flynn is unflinching in his criticism of the Obama administration’s moves to develop an alliance with Iran. And he is almost equally critical of George W. Bush’s war against terror.

For instance, Flynn argues, “It was a huge strategic mistake for the United States to invade Iraq militarily.”

Iran, he said was the main culprit in 2001 and remains the main enemy today.

“If, as we claimed, our basic mission after 9/11 was the defeat of the terrorists and their state sponsors then our primary target should have been Tehran, not Baghdad, and that method should have been political – support of the internal Iranian opposition.”

Flynn’s final major contribution to the intellectual discourse regarding the war is his blunt identification of the members of the enemy axis. Flynn states that the radical Islamic terrorist armies operate in cooperation with and at the pleasure of a state alliance dominated by Russia and Iran and joined by North Korea, Venezuela and other rogue regimes. Flynn’s frank discussion of Russia’s pivotal role in the alliance exposes the widely touted claims that he is somehow pro-Russian as utter nonsense.

In Flynn’s view, while Russia is Iran’s primary partner in its war for global domination, it should not be the primary focus of US efforts. Iran should be the focus.

In his words, the best place to unravel the enemy alliance is at its “weakest point,” which, he argues, is Iran.

Flynn explains that the basic and endemic weakness of the Iranian regime owes to the fact that the Iranian people hate it. To defeat the regime, Flynn recommends a strategy of political war and subversion that empowers the Iranian people to overthrow the regime as they sought to do in the 2009 Green Revolution. Flynn makes the case that the Green Revolution failed in large part because the Obama administration refused to stand with the Iranian people.

Flynn is both an experienced commander and an innovative, critical, strategic thinker. As his book makes clear, while flamboyant and blunt he is not at all erratic. He is far-sighted and determined, and locked on his target: Iran.

Whoever Trump selects as secretary of state, his appointment of Mattis on the one hand and Flynn on the other exposes his hand. Trump is interested in ending the war that the forces of radical Islam started with the US not on September 11, 2001, but on November 4, 1979, with the seizure of the US embassy in Tehran.

With Mattis and Flynn at his side, Trump intends to bring down the Iranian regime as a first step toward securing an unconditional victory in the war against radical Islam.

Responses In Iran To Trump’s Presidential Win

November 18, 2016

Responses In Iran To Trump’s Presidential Win, Memri, By: A. Savyon, E. Kharrazi, and U. Kafash*, November 17, 2016

Introduction

While the Iranian regime’s official position is that there is no difference between a Democrat or a Republican in the White House because both of them will be anti-Iran, there are a number of notable trends in Iranian reactions to Donald Trump’s election:

Reactions Common To Both The Ideological And Pragmatic Camps  

  • Trump’s win was a protest against the U.S. administration’s policies of slaughter, violence, and oppression both in and outside the U.S. Despite the Obama administration’s extraordinary efforts to end Iran’s international isolation, speakers from both Iranian camps attacked Obama and gloated over the Democrats’ loss.
  • Trump is better for Iran than Clinton. In spite of the regime’s official policy of not preferring either candidate, some Iranians have said that a President Trump is better for Tehran for a number of reasons:

o Trump seeks better relations, not conflict, with Russian President Vladimir Putin, so Iran expects that he will let Putin deal with Syria, which is controlled by Iran.

o Trump is unpopular in the West, and will therefore find it difficult to form an international coalition against Iran – which Clinton could have easily done.

o Trump will need some time to identify his Republican allies in Congress before he can act against Iran.

o Since Trump is a businessman, there is cautious hope that his actions will be business-oriented, not purely ideology-oriented.

Reactions From The Pragmatic Camp

  • Fear that the JCPOA will now be cancelled – particularly among those who labored to achieve the agreement, including President Hassan Rohani, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, and members of the negotiating team. These representatives of the pragmatic camp were quick to stress that the U.S. must adhere to its commitments and implement the agreement with Iran, due to their apprehensions that President Trump would follow through on his campaign promise to reverse it. Others expressed cautious optimism that Trump as president would be different than Trump as candidate, as evinced by his victory speech, which they said was more measured and moderate than his campaign rhetoric.

Reactions From The Ideological Camp

  • Threats against the U.S. are toned down, and instead there are vague threats that are less specific than in the past about an appropriate Iranian response to any move the U.S. might make against Iran.
  • Recommendations that Trump focus on rebuilding at home rather than taking anti-Iran measures.
  • Calling on Iranians to adhere to the regime’s official stance by refraining completely from issuing any pro- or anti-Trump statements.
30714Cartoon published November 16, 2016 by the Iranian news agency Mehr. Note the two Hitler serpents behind Trump.

MEMRI’s Assessment

It appears that Iran’s military-political elite prefers to deal with a male president, not a female one.[1] Furthermore, in a November 2 speech ahead of the anniversary of the U.S. Embassy takeover in Tehran, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, in an unusual statement, explained Trump’s popularity among the American public as due to the fact that he speaks “honestly.” Moreover, unlike Clinton, Trump is seen by the Iranian leadership as not committed to democratic values or human rights because of his past remarks on women and minorities, and as a dominant ruler with whom Iran can find common ground. Iran has actually chosen to cooperate with Republican administrations that demonstrated strength and determination.

In this context, it is important to note that it is with Republican administrations that have demonstrated strength and determination that Iran has chosen to cooperate. For instance, when the U.S. military operated in Iraq and Afghanistan during the George W. Bush administration, Iran cooperated with U.S. forces and even stopped enriching uranium of its own accord, fearing an American attack. Also, during the Reagan administration, it was the Iranian regime that initiated dialogue with the U.S. on the Iran-Contra affair.

A contemporary example is the announcement by an Iranian diplomatic source, immediately after Trump’s win was declared, that Iran intends to remove from its territory a quantity of heavy water that puts it above the limits set by the JCPOA. An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report from early November 2016 warned that Iran possessed too much heavy water, but it was only after Trump’s win that Iran hastened to announce its intention to rectify the violation.

It should also be noted that Trump, who was critical of the JCPOA, need not take measures to cancel the agreement. He can take another tack to do this, by this by strictly implementing all sections of the agreement as it already exists, upholding Congress’ initial sanctions on Iran for its human rights violations and support for terrorism, and passing additional sanctions, for example on Iran’s ballistic missile program which the Obama administration did not include in the JCPOA. In fact, in recent months, the Obama administration had been working to help Iran,[2] in direct violation of the JCPOA and of Congress’s initial sanctions.

Such moves could restructure the relationship between Iran and the U.S. administration, making it into one based on cooperation and mutual understanding – in contrast to the Iranian regime’s contempt for and ridicule of the Obama administration. This scenario would be like the Reagan presidential win, after which Iran immediately released the Americans it had been holding hostage for over a year during the Carter administration.

Even more important than the future of the JCPOA, and much more urgent, is what Trump will do about the military and political empire that Iran is building in the Middle East – in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen – with the encouragement of the Obama administration, which sought to shift the region’s Sunni-Shi’ite power balance towards the Shi’ites.[3] What action will he take against the Iran-led Shi’ite axis that is standing against the Sunnis, led by Saudi Arabia and Turkey? What will he do about Iran’s strategic partner, Putin’s Russia?

30715Mehr, November 16, 2016.

Following are excerpts from Iranian reactions to Trump’s win, from both the pragmatic and ideological camps:

Iran’s Pragmatic Camp

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said, during a visit to Romania: “We do not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. This is the choice of the American people. Anyone who will be president in America should recognize the reality in the region and the world, and address it realistically. Iran and America have no political ties, but America must meet its international obligations [under] the JCPOA, along with other parties.”[4]

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said: “The Iranian people and the Islamic Republic of Iran have bad and bitter memories from the previous policies and approach of American administration officials. What is important to Iran, and the Iranian people – whom [we] consider a touchstone – is how the next American administration will act and conduct itself. These things are more important than [Trump’s] statements and the policies he expressed during his election campaign.

“The main cause of the escalating violence, extremism, and provocations of Muslims in the region is the policies of the previous American administrations, and their interference in the affairs of the countries in the region. The instability in the strategic regions of the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea, and the threats stemming from the violence, extremism, spread of deviant and dangerous thought, and terrorism of groups such as ISIS – which Iran is at the forefront of combatting – indicate that America must reexamine its regional policy.”[5]

Iranian President Hassan Rohani stated, at a government meeting on November 9, that the JCPOA cannot be cancelled: “Iran’s wisdom in the nuclear agreement was to ratify the JCPOA as a Security Council resolution, and not a [bilateral] agreement with a particular country or administration. Therefore, [the JCPOA] cannot be changed according to the whims of a particular administration… The results of the American election will not influence Iranian policy.” He added: “Because of its mistaken policies, America’s status in international society and in global public opinion has waned, and its growing rift with the global society and with Europe damages this status even further… The American election results attest to domestic worry and instability, which will remain for a long time. It will also take a long time until these domestic disagreements and problems are sorted out.

“America today can no longer take advantage of Iranophobia to create a global anti-Iran coalition. Iran’s policy is based on constructive cooperation with the world, on breaking the nuclear sanctions, and on economic ties with the entire world. [This policy] is now emerging, and can no longer be reversed.”[6]

Reformist intellectual Prof. Sadegh Zibakalam explained on November 10 why Iran’s ideological camp preferred Trump to Clinton: “After the American election, there is surely much rejoicing among the streams hostile to America, and among those in Iran who persist in remaining hostile to America, because when Trump enters the White House there will be no more opportunity to ease Iran-U.S. tensions or to bring the [two] closer together… The extremists will exploit Trump’s positions and tell the moderates ‘See how wrong you were? Do you see we were right and that America can absolutely not be trusted? Look at Trump’s anti-Iran stances – do you see why we said that we cannot be fooled by America and that we shouldn’t take its friendly smile seriously?’

“It won’t be long before many in Iran long for the days when Obama was in the White House and John Kerry ran the U.S. State Department. Then they will realize how good we had it, and that we could have reached understandings with America and moved towards removing the tension – but we missed that golden opportunity.

“The Russians are also glad that an extremist is now in the White House, because they believe that they can handle extremists, but not Democrats. They believe that it is possible to get along with Reagan, Trump, and George Bush, but that it is always difficult to deal with the Democrats. Therefore, the Russians, much like our own extremists, welcome Trump’s election, while moderate liberal streams in Europe that support human rights and such do not.”[7]

Responding to Zibakalam’s argument that Iran would welcome Trump, but not an Obama or a Clinton,the pragmatic website Asr-e Iran wrote: “Many believe that Trump’s victory will damage Iran and that Iran will encounter many problems in the post-Obama era. But in this article we will state not only that Trump’s victory will not harm Iran, but that Iran will benefit it.

“Unlike Obama and Clinton, Trump is more inclined [to deal with] domestic affairs, and does not wish to occupy himself with foreign affairs and regional crises. In his speeches, Trump openly stated that he opposes the attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan and does not want to bring America into other countries’problems. Obama and Clinton desperately wanted to create hegemony in the region and outside it, but because America is now weaker at home, Trump wants to improve its domestic situation, and it can therefore be said that he does not wish to deal with Iran and the Middle East region.

“The most important Trump opponents now are European governments. The Europeans did not want Trump in power. But this is today’s reality, and we can say that Trump’s arrival has opened up a yawning chasm between Europe and America. The American presidents who preceded Trump had global leadership strength, because the world, and especially Europe, recognized them as world leaders. But today, not even the American elite, let alone European countries, recognize Trump as a global powerbroker. This means that Trump cannot form an international coalition against Iran or against countries that oppose America.

“Certainly, Europe in the Trump era will try to engage in its own interests, and will no longer make efforts for American interests. This is Iran’s best opportunity to take advantage of this possible Europe-U.S. gap. The Europeans have expressed interest in economic and political cooperation with Iran, and during these years [i.e. the Obama years], America was the only obstacle. In the Trump era, Iran could strengthen its ties with Europe.

“Trump is an economic player; for him, policy is determined by economic profit. Those who seek economic windfalls are never interested in wars or political crises, which can create market panic, unless the war benefits their economic interests.

“Trump’s America will be a country focused on matters that are marginal and on mere noise. This is the best time for Iran to promote its policy on the regional and international levels. The JCPOA under Trump could be the JCPOA of Iran and Europe, and because of the red-headed American president, America might slowly drift away from the JCPOA with Iran. Of course, we must stress that nothing is certain or predictable, especially with regard to Trump, and therefore the world and Iran should keep a close eye on the 45th American president.”[8]

Foad Izadi, an assistant professor in the American Studies department at Tehran University who has a degree from Louisiana State University, claimed that the biggest gift that Trump’s win is giving Iran is that Trump will find it difficult to mobilize international support against Iran – unlike Clinton, who could have easily done so. He added that Trump would also work against Iran in Congress, as Clinton would have, but that it will take Trump a while to identify his allies in Congress, unlike Clinton who would easily have gained support for whatever she chose to do.

Iran’s Ideological Camp

Deputy Majlis Speaker Ali Motahari said: “There will be a difference between Trump’s positions during the election campaign and [those he will adopt] during his presidency. I will summarize his election positions by saying that his presidency will be better for Iran than Clinton’s would have been, because the Democrats advance [toward their goals] more meticulously and they behead you with cotton wool.

“Trump is more honest and has better positions on Syria. Additionally, he does not view Saudi Arabia positively, and he wants good relations with Russia. I believe Trump’s opposition to the JCPOA is good for Iran. In effect, they [the Americans] can do nothing. Ultimately, I think Trump’s presidency will benefit Iran.”[9]

Mocking Western democracy, the Kayhan daily, on its November 10 front page, called Trump’s victory “Another Win For Liberal Democracy: The Madman Defeats The Mendacious Woman.”[10] That day’s editorial explained: “The whites who voted for Trump, being mostly educated [sic], and not from the upper classes, are greatly inclined to clash with racial minorities. Yesterday, immediately after Trump’s victory, in one state, young people who support him [congregated] and chanted anti-black and anti-Muslim slogans. The domestic situation in America is not so great, and daily events, such as what happened in Ferguson, deprive citizens of security. The Trump era could be anything but a time to heal the wounds opened by racial discrimination…

“Trump’s America will absolutely not be a new America with new capabilities, and therefore his anti-Iran declarations will not come to fruition. What is certain is that in the current situation, most Republicans in today’s House and Senate wish to reduce America’s extra-regional conflicts, and will abandon the rash policies of Obama, [who sought] to solve the [crisis] dossiers of the Middle East.

“Trump cannot reinvigorate America’s weary army, and the region is also lacking forces that can seriously replace those who are interfering there on behalf of America [i.e. rebel groups]. That is, the Trump era will see a decline in the wars waged by those who fight in America’s name.

“An interesting point in the American election was crediting Russia [with influencing the result]… Now there is talk of Russia’s influence in the American elections. Donald Trump not only does not deny allegations that he depends on Russia, but his [campaign] statements regarding U.S.-Russia cooperation brought him votes. He said that if he were elected, he would consider Crimea to be under Russian rule.”[11]

Iranian Army chief of staff Mohammad Bagheri said on November 10: “With regard to statements by the American president-elect and what he said during the election campaign – this man, who has now come to power, was too boastful. I have a suggestion for him: ‘Relax, and ask your naval commanders and officers how your forces on that [U.S.] vessel ended up [i.e. captured by Iran, in January 2016].’ Threatening Iran in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf is a joke. The might of Iran’s navy also exists in the IRGC’s land , air , passive defense, and Qods Force.”[12]

Ala Al-Din Boroujerdi, chairman of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said on November 9: “Trump’s victory shows the America people’s reaction to the [U.S.] policy of warmongering, which caused thousands of Americans to lose their lives and squandered hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars in vain… It seems that American public opinion expects the people’s problems to be addressed [now]… We must wait and see what Trump’s policy vis-à-vis the region and the Islamic world will be…

“As for implementing the JCPOA, there is a difference between Trump campaigning for election and Trump the president. It is natural that when someone is elected U.S. president, they must place themselves within the framework of laws and international relations, including the JCPOA, and must remain committed to them. Any step or action [by Trump] will be met with an appropriate [Iranian] reaction.

“If Trump wants to act according to the positions he expressed during his campaign, he must end America’s cooperation with Saudi Arabia in the evil slaughter of the Yemeni people, because Saudi Arabia cannot drown tens of thousands of oppressed Yemenis in blood and ashes without American support. Trump should, at the very least, stop the [American] shipment of weapons to Saudi Arabia.”[13]

Yadollah Javani, senior advisor to Khamenei’s representative in the IRGC, indicated that Trump’s election campaign was different from previous campaigns, and that this has to do with the domestic situation in the U.S.: “Although Trump himself is seen as a wealthy businessman, in his election campaign he defended the poor, blacks, and the lower classes, and challenged the White House’s discriminatory and corrupt policy. Therefore, his message was popular.” Javani added that Trump becoming president was unlikely to radically shift American policy: “Neither Trump nor Clinton nor anyone else can save America, whose power is dwindling, and which has reached the end of the line as a superpower and an empire… American hostility towards [Iran’s] Islamic Revolution, its Islamic regime, and the Iranian nation lies in the arrogance of the American political regime. Thus, there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans… The clearer the enemy’s hostility becomes, the easier it is to deal with. Based on experience over the past 37 years, the Republicans’ hostility towards the Islamic Revolution and the Iranian nation has been more out in the open [than the Democrats’].”[14]

Hossein Naqavi Hosseini, spokesman for the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said on November 9 that Trump had won because the Americans “were displeased with their rulers.” U.S. foreign policy, he said, “is fixed, and is based on interference, aggression, control, usurpation, and the beheading of nations. [But the difference is that] Democrats loot and behead with cotton wool, while Republicans [do it] cruelly with a knife.” About the JCPOA, he said: “Trump only has two options: [Either] act within the framework of the agreement, since it is not an agreement with America [only]. [Or,] if the Americans tear up the agreement, then Iran will be ready to burn it, as the leader [Khamenei] has said.”[15]

In his main official Friday sermon, on November 11, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, Assembly of Experts member and Tehran Friday prayer leader, rebuked all those in Iran who expressed hope for a Trump presidency, contradicting the regime’s official line, and advised Trump to focus on U.S. affairs rather than seek adventures overseas: “Before the election, Iran’s policy [vis-à-vis the candidates] was logical and neutral, because our regime said that as far as that is concerned ‘they are all the same,’ and [all the candidates] take orders from somewhere else – that is, they are servants of the Zionist regime. But some websites and newspapers [in Iran] were biased, and even before the election they welcomed a particular candidate’s win. This was unwise, and it would have been better for them to adhere to the regime’s policy…

“The candidate who won the American presidency said, ‘Our country needs new roads, tunnels, and hospitals, but we do not have the necessary funds.’ Where do the [American] tax dollars go? They are spent on slaughter. I want to preach to the new president who has just come to power in America: If you continue in the path of your predecessors, be certain that your fate will be the same as theirs. They had particular characteristics, and you should not repeat their mistakes.

“The American president-elect must know that the Iranian nation exhausted previous American presidents… You called the Iranian people terrorists. If you have any decency and courage, you will apologize to them.

“Take care, because playing with the Iranian nation is like playing with a lion’s tail. I hope these words will reach your ears. You should know that Iran has a single character and a single slogan. Our character is resisting to the final man and final breath, and our slogan is that of the Imam Hussein: ‘Humiliation and disgrace are far from us.’

“I hope that the new American president is wise enough to carry out what he said when he said ‘I do not want tense [relations] with any country.’ If he does not carry this out, he will soon get to know the Iranian people…”[16]

Majlis speaker Ali Larijani called for restraint, saying, on November 13: “The analyses and editorializing regarding the American president-elect should be more mature. We must refrain from making rash judgments and from judging prematurely. We must wait and allow [Iran’s] diplomatic apparatus to take a clear stance.”[17]   

*A. Savyon is director of the MEMRI Iran Studies Project; E. Kharrazi, and U. Kafash are Research Fellows at MEMRI*


Endnotes:

[1] Due in part to a preference by Iran’s political and cultural leadership, which ideologically excludes women in key roles, to not deal directly with a woman, especially one who in the past has openly worked against Iran.

[2] According to Western media reports, the Obama administration, and particularly Secretary of State John Kerry, are pressuring European companies and banks to invest in Iran despite Congress’s sanctions. See, for example, State.gov/secretary/remarks/2016/04/256536.htm, April 23, 2016; State.gov/secretary/remarks/2016/05/257116.htm,  May 12, 2016.  See also article by Stuart Levey, chief legal officer of HSBC Holdings, and former undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the U.S. Treasury Department (2004-11), “Kerry’s Peculiar Message About Iran For European Banks: Why is Washington pushing banks like mine to do what is still illegal for American banks?”,” Wsj.com/articles/kerrys-peculiar-message-about-iran-for-european-banks-1463093348, May 12, 2016; Finance.yahoo.com/news/uk-working-resolve-banking-concerns-093933912.html; and Bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-10-26/clinton-s-allies-promise-a-tougher-line-on-iran.

[3] Saudi Prince Turki Al-Faisal also said that Trump should not cancel the JCPOA and instead should focus on thwarting Iran, “which is working to destabilize” the Middle East. Reuters.com, November 11, 2016.

[4] Tasnim (Iran), November 9, 2016. Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) also said that “Iran is prepared for any development. Iran is attempting to continue implementing the JCPOA” and “it has a long term plan.” Tasnim (Iran), November 9, 2016.

[5] ISNA (Iran), November 9, 2016.

[6] ISNA (Iran), November 9, 2016.

[7] Asr-e Iran (Iran), November 10, 2016.

[8] Asr-e Iran (Iran), November 10, 2016.

[9] ISNA (Iran), November 9, 2016.

[10] Kayhan (Iran), November 10, 2016.

[11] Kayhan (Iran), November 10, 2016.

[12] Tasnim (Iran), November 10, 2016.

[13] ISNA (Iran), November 9, 2016.

[14] Javan (Iran), November 10, 2016.

[15] Javan (Iran), November 9, 2016.

[16] Fars (Iran), November 11, 2016.

[17] ISNA (Iran), November 13, 2016.

Muslim Trump Voter Unloads on Democrats and Radical Islam

November 12, 2016

Muslim Trump Voter Unloads on Democrats and Radical Islam, Iran Aware, Ed Straker, November 12, 2016

(The author need not have been quite so surprised. At least a few other Muslims, including Dr. Zuhdi Jasser’s American Islamic Forum for Democracy, also reject Islamist notions. Perhaps President Trump will ask for their help in dealing with American’s Islamist problems. — DM)

boom

For a long time I’ve been critical of the Muslim community, many of whom seem to revel in victimhood status even when it’s clear that they are not the victims of anything.  Meanwhile, a substantial number of their coreligionists are slaughtering people by the thousands, including, from time to time, Americans, and they don’t seem to have any public opinions about that.

So nothing could be more surprising to me to see Asra Q. Nomani, a Muslim who penned an op-ed in the Washington Post announcing that not only did she vote for Trump, but she has a deep dislike for Hillary and, yes, wait for it… radical Islam!

I – a 51-year-old, a Muslim, an immigrant woman “of color” – am one of those silent voters for Donald Trump. And I’m not a “bigot,” “racist,” “chauvinist” or “white supremacist,” as Trump voters are being called, nor part of some “whitelash.”

I have been opposed to the decision by President Obama and the Democratic Party to tap dance around the “Islam” in Islamic State.

… the issue that most worries me as a human being on this earth: extremist Islam of the kind that has spilled blood from the hallways of the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai to the dance floor of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

The revelations of multimillion-dollar donations to the Clinton Foundation from Qatar and Saudi Arabia [which Wikileaks emails claimed are funders of ISIS] killed my support for Clinton.

I have absolutely no fears about being a Muslim in a “Trump America.” The checks and balances in America and our rich history of social justice and civil rights will never allow the fear-mongering that has been attached to candidate Trump’s rhetoric to come to fruition.

What worried me the most were my concerns about the influence of theocratic Muslim dictatorships, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia, in a Hillary Clinton America. These dictatorships are no shining examples of progressive society with their failure to offer fundamental human rights and pathways to citizenship to immigrants from India, refugees from Syria and the entire class of de facto slaves that live in those dictatorships.

We have to stand up with moral courage against not just hate against Muslims, but hate by Muslims[.]

Nomani condemned radical Islam and the Democrats’ refusal to fight it.  Can you imagine if most American Muslims spoke this way publicly?

Can you imagine if even some American Muslims spoke this way publicly, instead of blaming people who want to scrutinize fundamentalists for our own safety?

Nomani’s op-ed piece, while unprecedented, highlights the continuing moral crisis in the Muslim community by virtue of the near uniqueness of her perspective.