Posted tagged ‘Trump and Russia’

From Russia With Crud (2)

April 22, 2017

From Russia With Crud (2), Power Line, Scott Johnson, April 22, 2017

When the Trump campaign (allegedly) conspired with Putin to engineer the unlikely defeat of Hillary Clinton, did Putin get anything in return? Apparently not. The story line doesn’t hang together. In the world according to the Democrats, however, if the facts don’t fit you must not acquit. You must recommit.

Two months ago the sober Hudson Institute Distinguished Fellow and foreign policy historian Walter Russell Mead impolitely noted that “Trump isn’t sounding like a Russian mole.” Trump had remarked “effusively” to Reuters on the importance of expanding the American nuclear arsenal. Mead commented: “What the press has largely ignored about Trump’s latest pronouncement is an obvious truth that undermines its own narrative: someone who was safely in Vladimir Putin’s pocket wouldn’t run around saying things like this.”

Mead must have wanted to provoke the Democrats’ idiotic media adjunct. He enlarged to telling effect on this point. Like the little boy who declined to praise the magnificence of the emperor’s invisible finery, Mead blurted out:

If Trump were the Manchurian candidate that people keep wanting to believe that he is, here are some of the things he’d be doing:

• Limiting fracking as much as he possibly could
• Blocking oil and gas pipelines
• Opening negotiations for major nuclear arms reductions
• Cutting U.S. military spending
• Trying to tamp down tensions with Russia’s ally Iran

That Trump is planning to do precisely the opposite of these things may or may not be good policy for the United States, but anybody who thinks this is a Russia appeasement policy has been drinking way too much joy juice.

Mead wasn’t done yet. He contrasted Trump’s announced policies with Obama’s actual policies:

Obama actually did all of these things, and none of the liberal media now up in arms about Trump ever called Obama a Russian puppet; instead, they preferred to see a brave, farsighted and courageous statesman. Trump does none of these things and has embarked on a course that will inexorably weaken Russia’s position in the world, and the media, suddenly flushing eight years of Russia dovishness down the memory hole, now sounds the warning that Trump’s Russia policy is treasonously soft.

This foolishness is best understood as an unreasoning panic attack. The liberal media hate Trump more than they have hated any American politician in a generation, and they do not understand his supporters or the sources of his appeal. They are frantically picking up every available stick to beat him, in the hopes that something, somehow, will Miloize him.

Only last week we had Secretary Tillerson’s press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov (text here). Fulfilling Obama’s mocking gibe to Mitt Romney, the 1980’s seemed to have gotten their foreign policy back.

Yesterday Politico reported the Trump administration has announced that it would not grant a waiver from Russian sanctions to Exxon Mobil or any other energy companies. Ben Lefebvre explains: “The Treasury Department announcement follows reports that Exxon had been seeking such a waiver to drill in the Black Sea.”

The concise statement by Treasury Secretary Mnuchin is calculated to rub it in: “In consultation with President Donald J. Trump, the Treasury Department will not be issuing waivers to U.S. companies, including Exxon, authorizing drilling prohibited by current Russian sanctions.”

Has anyone among the Democrats’ idiotic media adjunct paused to note that the Russians aren’t getting their (alleged) money’s worth?

NOTE: I was reminded of Mead’s point summary of Obama’s policies by John O’Sullivan’s recent article in National Review as well as O’Sullivan’s NRO post on Trump’s State of the Union speech.

 

Trump’s Strategy for Dividing the Enemy Alliance

April 15, 2017

Trump’s Strategy for Dividing the Enemy Alliance, Iran News Update, April 14, 2017

 

Russia and Iran still needed to be dealt with, so Tillerson met with Putin Wednesday, and Buckley writes, “…from our perspective the possibility of a rapprochement with Russia is greater now than it was before the attack on the Syrian air base: Trump no longer has to worry about critics who say he’s soft on Russia.”

He continues, “As for the Russians, they’re the ultimate realists. We’ve signaled to them that we’re not going to try to dislodge them from Syria. But everything else is on the table. We’re telling them they can move in more civilized company if they want. Only it’s going to cost them, if we’re to accept them as civilized players.”

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The past few weeks were a triumph for America.

“Now what?” asks F.H. Buckley, Scalia Law School professor, and author of “The Way Back: Restoring the Promise of America.”

In an article for the New York Post Buckley writes, “When facing three opponents, as America is with Russia, Syria and Iran, the most obvious response is to try to break them up through a side deal with one of them. That’s the signal Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and UN Ambassador Nicki Haley sent to Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad on March 30 in saying we’d be prepared to live with him.”

In essence, the message was, “Be nice, Assad, distance yourself from Iran and we’ll accept a solution to the Syrian civil war that leaves you in power,” writes Buckley. The offer’s chance of being accepted was slight. Syria, under Assad, is dependent on Iran. More fighters take orders from Tehran than there are members of Assad’s army, including members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

No one has asked is why Assad ordered the Sarin attack, but Buckley assumes that it “…had simply been ordered to employ chemical weapons by Tehran, as a means of turning down the American overture. It signaled that the Iranian-Syrian alliance could not be broken.”

Next came our attack on the Syrian Shayrat airbase last week.

However, Russia and Iran still needed to be dealt with, so Tillerson met with Putin Wednesday, and Buckley writes, “…from our perspective the possibility of a rapprochement with Russia is greater now than it was before the attack on the Syrian air base: Trump no longer has to worry about critics who say he’s soft on Russia.”

He continues, “As for the Russians, they’re the ultimate realists. We’ve signaled to them that we’re not going to try to dislodge them from Syria. But everything else is on the table. We’re telling them they can move in more civilized company if they want. Only it’s going to cost them, if we’re to accept them as civilized players.”

Finally, Buckley talks about Iran. He writes, “Of the three countries, only Iran under the mullahs is America’s implacable enemy, one with whom a peaceful resolution of differences is entirely impossible. More than that, the mullahs take our willingness to reach out to them as a sign of weakness they can exploit. They constantly test our resolve, and when we fail to respond, they take it one level further.”

Some options remain, and one of them is to push back when pushed. The Iranian regime’s legitimacy is threatened by liberal opposition groups, particularly the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). The National Council revealed Iran’s nuclear program in 2002, and it’s been praised by Elie Wiesel, Rudy Giuliani and Michael Mukasey.

Support for the NCRI and other Iranian dissident groups is a good place to begin change, and end the years of acquiescence to Iran.

America is back, and Russia is listening

April 13, 2017

America is back, and Russia is listening, Israel Hayom, Boaz Bismuth, April 13, 2017

Trump knows what Obama refused to acknowledge — that the U.S. cannot shirk its duty as the world’s policeman and the region’s sheriff. Obama hoped that he could just ignore this region or let others lead.

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In September 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg. This was just days after then-U.S. President Barack Obama effectively decided not to take military action against Syrian President Bashar Assad, who had just used chemical weapons against his people. Two years later, having realized that the U.S. left a vacuum in the region, Russia returned with a force not seen since the end of the Cold War.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who was sworn in less than 100 days ago, has decided to change the political equation the Russians have created. Surprisingly, the Russians are willing to listen, despite their repeated mention of the sorry state of relations between Moscow and Washington.

The U.S. media is fond of reporting on Trump’s so-called illicit ties to the Russian government. But the truth of the matter is that it was Obama, in 2013, who tried to cozy up to the Russians, because he wanted to reach a nuclear deal with Iran — which he considered the most important part of his legacy, much more than an intervention in Syria.

Russian-American relations reached “a low point,” as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said this week, as a result of the situation in Syria. But both superpowers are still determined to fight terrorism together and support an international inquiry of the chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib province last week.

The joint press conference Tillerson held with his counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday underscored the fact that superpowers have their own language, and when the U.S. talks like the superpower that it is, Russia has no choice but to play along, even if the Russians made sure Tillerson had to wait until the very last moment before he was told he could meet Putin in Moscow (and the meeting was only two hours long).

Despite all that has been said on Russia-U.S. relations, it is important to note that relations between two big powers are by definition different than any other forms of bilateral relations. Moreover, the current escalation is a plus for Russia because it puts it on equal footing with the U.S. That is why Russia made sure Tillerson’s visit had all the hallmarks of a summit in which the world’s leading superpowers determine how the world is going to run. As far as the Russians are concerned, this is the main accomplishment of the meeting. In the grand scheme of things, it is a win-win for both sides: Trump can distance himself from Russia, and Putin can prove that he can stand up to the Americans.

Despite what most people think, Trump actually acted strategically when he ordered the missile strike last week on a Syrian airbase in retaliation for Assad’s use of chemical weapons. The strike was designed to send a much wider and strategic message, that would resonate well beyond Syria — in Iran, in North Korea and in Russia. It was designed to make sure people think twice before they mess with the U.S.

Trump knows what Obama refused to acknowledge — that the U.S. cannot shirk its duty as the world’s policeman and the region’s sheriff. Obama hoped that he could just ignore this region or let others lead.

Yours truly predicted Trump would be tested in his first months in office, just like President Ronald Reagan was tested in his first year in office. Back then Reagan had to respond to air traffic controllers who went on strike at federal airports; now Trump has to deal with the Russians and Assad. Trump has no qualms about doing an about-face, even on issues that he is not supposed to care about. Both Reagan and Trump changed the rules of the game when they responded to those early tests. Such behavior creates the element of surprise and proves that a president is willing to act like a madman.

A Shoe Drops: Obama Administration Spied on Carter Page [Updated]

April 12, 2017

A Shoe Drops: Obama Administration Spied on Carter Page [Updated], Power Line, John Hinderaker, April 11, 2017

[E]ver since the Inauguration the Democratic Party, especially its press wing in Washington and New York, has relentlessly pushed the Trump/Russia story. What story? There isn’t one. But that hasn’t stopped Democrats in the press from talking about little else for the last three months.

And yet, all along, the Democrats have known that their spying produced nothing. This whole story is almost unbelievably sordid. The relevant Congressional committees should investigate thoroughly, and criminal prosecutions should follow where laws have been broken.

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I assume this Washington Post story is true: “FBI obtained FISA warrant to monitor former Trump adviser Carter Page.” It confirms what has been sporadically reported since late last year, that the Obama administration sought and ultimately received a FISA order to spy on at least one associate of Donald Trump. So Trump’s famous tweets were, in substance, true.

The FBI obtained a secret court order last summer to monitor the communications of an adviser to presidential candidate Donald Trump, part of an investigation into possible links between Russia and the campaign, law enforcement and other U.S. officials said.

Do the leaks come from the same Obama administration holdovers who have leaked in the past, trying to get ahead of disclosures that will confirm that President Trump’s suspicions were correct? Or do they come from officials appointed by Trump? I don’t know, but the Post’s illicit sources are pretty much always Democrats.

The FBI and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting Carter Page’s communications after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia, according to the officials.

That’s a strong charge, but I doubt that there is evidence to support it. Carter Page “worked in Moscow for Merrill Lynch a decade ago and … has said he invested in Russian energy giant Gazprom.” He never had any official association with the Trump campaign, but has been referred to as an “informal adviser.” He has asked to testify before a Congressional committee to clear his name.

The current leakers, whoever they are, described the Obama administration’s FISA application in detail. Or else the Post reporters have seen it.

The government’s application for the surveillance order targeting Page included a lengthy declaration that laid out investigators’ basis for believing that Page was an agent of the Russian government and knowingly engaged in clandestine intelligence activities on behalf of Moscow, officials said.

Among other things, the application cited contacts that he had with a Russian intelligence operative in New York City in 2013, officials said. Those contacts had earlier surfaced in a federal espionage case brought by the Justice Department against another Russian agent. In addition, the application said Page had other contacts with Russian operatives that have not been publicly disclosed, officials said.

The Obama administration was already trying, last Summer, to find evidence that Russia’s government was “meddling” in our presidential election:

The application also showed that the FBI and the Justice Department’s national security division have been seeking since July to determine how broad a network of accomplices Russia enlisted in attempting to influence the 2016 presidential election, the officials said.

I find it hard to believe that Russia’s rulers, from Vladimir Putin on down, wanted to help elect a president who vowed to rebuild America’s dwindling military strength, and to put America first, in place of an administration that was consistently supine in the face of Russian aggression and was borderline anti-American. Possibly Putin and his advisers are that dumb, but I doubt it.

In any event, the Obama administration failed to find any evidence that anyone associated with Trump was somehow cooperating with the Russians–not even a “junior member of the [Trump] campaign’s foreign policy advisory group,” as Page described himself. If they had, we would have learned about it long before now.

We haven’t heard the last of this story, but for the moment one thing is clear: a great many people, inside and outside of the media, owe President Trump an apology. Assuming that President Obama knew of, and approved, the FISA application–a safe assumption, I think–Trump’s much-reviled tweet was true:

Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found.

How much of this Trump knew all along is, at this point, unclear.

UPDATE: We are now starting to get a picture of how sinister this whole Democratic Party misinformation campaign is. Through the last half of 2016, the Obama administration was desperately searching for evidence of some link between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia. They went to the length of seeking (twice, reportedly) and finally obtaining a FISA order that allowed them to spy on at least one insignificant Trump associate.

In addition, we now know that Susan Rice headed up an operation whereby raw NSA intelligence was sifted for names of Trump associates, no doubt in hopes of uncovering dirt of some sort.* And we also know that these efforts came up dry. The Obama administration found no compromising information about Trump or any of his associates.

Nevertheless, ever since the Inauguration the Democratic Party, especially its press wing in Washington and New York, has relentlessly pushed the Trump/Russia story. What story? There isn’t one. But that hasn’t stopped Democrats in the press from talking about little else for the last three months.

And yet, all along, the Democrats have known that their spying produced nothing. This whole story is almost unbelievably sordid. The relevant Congressional committees should investigate thoroughly, and criminal prosecutions should follow where laws have been broken.

It is time to get to the bottom of the Obama spy scandal.
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* All of this is reminiscent of Watergate, in this sense: after the fact, no one could figure out why the Plumbers bugged the Democratic National Committee, given that President Nixon was obviously going to be re-elected anyway. (The answer to that question may still be unknown, but that is another story.) Similarly, Barack Obama and his minion Susan Rice no doubt were confident that Hillary Clinton would win the election and serve Obama’s third term. Yet, they weren’t taking any chances.

Official: U.S. Concludes Russia Had Advanced Knowledge of Syrian Chemical Weapons Attack

April 11, 2017

Official: U.S. Concludes Russia Had Advanced Knowledge of Syrian Chemical Weapons Attack, Washington Free Beacon, April 10, 2017

(Russia took all of the Syrian chemical stuff away, just as Saint Barack told us. Saint Bashar wouldn’t use chemical weapons on Syrians even if he had some, and Saint Vlad wouldn’t condone it for a minute if he did. It just a strange coincidence and it must have been a false flag attack, probably by wicked Christians, Jews or Hindus. Evil Trump must have glommed onto it to appear strong and good. Right? — DM.) 

A civil defence member breathes through an oxygen mask, after what rescue workers described as a suspected gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah

The United States has concluded Russia knew in advance that the Syrian regime would employ chemical weapons in a large-scale attack last week, according to the Associated Press.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime reportedly ordered the chemical bombings that hit a rebel-held town in the Idlib Province on April 4. At least 80 people were killed, and video footage of women and children fighting to draw breath because of lethal chemical gas spread around the world.

BREAKING: Senior U.S. official says U.S. has concluded that Russia knew in advance of Syria’s chemical weapons attack last week.

According to a senior official, a Russian-operated drone flew over a Syrian hospital while victims sought treatment, and later a Russian-made fighter jet bombed the hospital. The official said the drone’s presence revealed that Russia knew the attack was coming:

Hours after the drone left, a Russian-made fighter jet bombed the hospital in what American officials believe was an attempt to cover up the usage of chemical weapons.

Until Monday, U.S. officials had said they weren’t sure if the drone was operated by Russia or Syria. The senior official said it still wasn’t clear who was flying the jet that bombed the hospital.

The official said the presence of the drone couldn’t have been a coincidence, and that Russia must have known the chemical weapons attack was coming and that victims were seeking treatment.

President Donald Trump responded to the chemical attack on Thursday, when he ordered the firing of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Al Shayrat airfield in western Syria, where the chemical attack originated.

The Trump administration has stepped up its rhetoric against Russia in the wake of the Syria attack.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke Monday at a World War II memorial in Italy to issue a warning against countries that “commit crimes against the innocents.”

“We rededicate ourselves to holding to account any and all who commit crimes against the innocents anywhere in the world,” he said.

United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said on Sunday that the administration would not let Russia “cover for this regime anymore.”

“This is something to let Russia know, ‘You know what? We’re not going to have you cover for this regime anymore. And we’re not going to allow things like this to happen to innocent people,'” Haley said on “Meet The Press.”

Trump Sends a Message to China Through Syria

April 10, 2017

Trump Sends a Message to China Through Syria, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, April 10, 2017

On Thursday evening, President Trump met with China’s President Xi and bombed Syria. The decision came as Trump traveled on Air Force One to meet with Xi at Mar-a-Lago. An hour into their dinner, 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles launched and pounded an airbase in Syria. The message wasn’t just for Assad and Putin. It was for Xi and his North Korean client state. The era of a weak America was over.

Xi had come to America expecting an easy photo op visit. President Trump would urge action on North Korea and Xi would smile coldly and shoot him down. Talk of fairer trade would be similarly dismissed.

And then Xi would go home and laugh that the bold new American leader was another paper tiger.

Except that President Trump had a different plan. Instead of Xi showing how tough he could be, Trump gave him a front row seat to a display of American power. The message was both obvious and subtle.

And President Xi, along with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei, aren’t laughing.

The obvious part was as blatant as a 1,000 pound explosive warhead slamming into concrete and steel, and as obvious as upstaging Xi’s efforts to stonewall Trump while warning that North Korea could be next if the Chinese leader continues to be obstinate.

Trump had warned throughout the campaign that he would not be laying his military plans on the table. “You’re telling the enemy everything you want to do!” he had mocked Clinton.

His address to the nation came an hour after the missiles had struck. The element of surprise had held.

And Xi came away with a very different message. The Obama era was over. The new guy was bold, dangerous and unpredictable. Like many of Trump’s American opponents, Xi understood now that the jovial man sitting next to him could and would violate the rules of the game without prior warning.

China would have to be careful. There was a cowboy in the White House again.

And that was the subtle part. Trump does not care very much about Assad. What he truly cares about is American power. Left-wing critics quickly pounced on Trump’s past opposition to strikes on Syria and his criticisms of Obama for not enforcing his own “red line”.

There is no contradiction.

Trump didn’t believe that strikes on Syria were a good idea. But once we had committed to a red line, then we had to follow through if we were going to be taken seriously.

And so Trump enforced Obama’s red line. Not because of Obama or Syria. But because of America.

“When he didn’t cross that line after making the threat, I think that set us back a long ways, not only in Syria, but in many other parts of the world because it was a blank threat,” President Trump said.

President Trump intends to get things done. And he knows it won’t happen with “blank” threats.

Asked about whether the strikes represented a message to Xi and North Korea, Secretary of State Tillerson replied, “It does demonstrate that President Trump is willing to act when governments and actors cross the line and cross the line on violating commitments they have made.”

“President Trump has made that statement to the world tonight,” he added.

The message is more subtle than a 1,000 pound warhead. But not by that much.

President Trump’s move bewildered leftist critics who had to shift from accusing him of having a secret relationship with Russia to accusing him of ruining our relationship with Russia. It also enraged some supporters who maintained a dogmatic non-interventionist position. But Trump doesn’t make decisions based on ideology. He measures policies against real world objectives, not abstract philosophies.

What he has always wanted to do is solve real problems.

The problem he was solving on Thursday wasn’t Assad. President Trump recognizes that Syria is an unsolvable problem and that little good can come of extended engagement with it. There are no good guys in Syria. Only Sunni and Shiite Jihadis and their victims. Syria is and will always be a dead end.

The problem is that Obama thoroughly wrecked American prestige and power over eight years. And that makes it painfully difficult to get anything done when no one in the world will take us seriously.

President Trump sees North Korea’s nuclear weapons as a major threat. But he also sees the crisis as a way to leverage our military might to achieve better trade deals with both partners and rivals. He is not wedded to a globalist or anti-globalist ideology. Instead he sees every problem as an opportunity.

He is not committed to any international coalition, globalist or anti-globalist, except where it temporarily serves American purposes. That is what being a true nationalist actually means.

That is what makes him so unpredictable and so dangerous.

President Trump made a point in Syria. He timed that point for maximum effect. The point isn’t that Assad is a bad man. Though he is. It’s not that he isn’t a Russian puppet, though only the lunatic left could have believed that. The point is that he is determined that America will be taken seriously.

Cruise missile diplomacy isn’t new. Bill Clinton fired over 500 cruise missiles into Iraq. Not to mention Sudan. Bush fired cruise missiles into Somalia. Obama signed off on firing cruise missiles into Yemen and Syria at terrorist targets. The difference is that Trump isn’t just saving face with cruise missile diplomacy.

President Trump’s real objective isn’t the Middle East. It’s Asia. He doesn’t see Russia as our leading geopolitical foe, but China. Syria was the opening shot in a staring contest with the People’s Republic. The moves in this chess game will sometimes be obvious and sometimes subtle. And Trump is usually at his most subtle when he’s being obvious. That’s what his enemies usually miss.

President Trump’s first step in Syria was to reestablish physical and moral authority on the international stage while the President of China had to sit there and watch. He humiliated Democrats and their media operation at the peak of their Russia frenzy. And he sent the message that America is back.

It’s not a bad return on a $60 million investment. We’ve spent much more in the field with less to show for it.

The Obama era in international affairs ended with whimper and a hollow Nobel Peace Prize as a trophy. The Trump era in international affairs began with 59 cruise missiles and a big bang.

KLEIN – Iran Is the Wild Card Following U.S. Air Strikes In Syria

April 7, 2017

KLEIN – Iran Is the Wild Card Following U.S. Air Strikes In Syria, BreitbartAaron Klein, April 7, 2017

U.S. Navy/via AP

President Vladimir Putin cannot risk a military confrontation with Trump and Russia is already signaling willingness to abandon Assad to come to a larger regional accommodation.

Still, there is the possibility that Russia may quietly support action by others, especially agents of a very nervous Iranian regime that has been preparing proxies for years who can heat up Israel’s northern border and beyond.  Both Moscow and Tehran have reason for wanting Trump to pay a price for acting in their Syrian playground.  The question is whether they will dare to respond, even tacitly.

The next few days and weeks will be critical in determining Iran and Russia’s resolve in the face of an awakened America that has returned from its eight-year slumber.

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TEL AVIV – Following the U.S. launch of Tomahawk missiles targeting a strategic Syrian airfield on Thursday night, Iran must be monitored carefully for the possibility that it may use its proxies for retaliation, especially against Israel’s northern border.

Following eight years of inaction on Syria under the Obama administration, President Donald Trump demonstrated last night that he is willing to hold Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to account, this time by striking the Shayrat Airfield near the Syrian city of Homs that was believed to have been utilized to carry out a chemical weapons attack that killed scores of civilians.

The U.S. airstrikes signaled to Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers that Trump will act in Syria and the administration strongly supports the removal of the Syrian president – an important strategic ally of Moscow and Tehran. The U.S. military move demonstrates to Israel and the Sunni Arab bloc cast aside by Obama’s nuclear deal with the mullahs that American leadership has officially returned to the region.

Assad himself is unlikely to retaliate since the last thing he wants amidst a years-long insurgency attempting to topple his regime is to go to war with Trump or expand the battlefield to U.S. ally Israel.

Trump’s bold authority in Syria directly threatens Russian interests since it was Moscow that largely filled the security vacuum in that country when Obama repeatedly failed to take any meaningful action against Assad. However, Russia’s direct response will most likely be confined to vocal protestation, such as Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov calling the U.S. strikes “aggression against a sovereign nation” carried out on a “made-up pretext.”

President Vladimir Putin cannot risk a military confrontation with Trump and Russia is already signaling willingness to abandon Assad to come to a larger regional accommodation.

Still, there is the possibility that Russia may quietly support action by others, especially agents of a very nervous Iranian regime that has been preparing proxies for years who can heat up Israel’s northern border and beyond.  Both Moscow and Tehran have reason for wanting Trump to pay a price for acting in their Syrian playground.  The question is whether they will dare to respond, even tacitly.

And that brings us to Iran.  Trump’s embrace of America’s traditional Sunni Arab partners at the expense of Tehran and his strong positions against the disastrous international nuclear agreement have been deeply concerning to the expansionist, terrorist-supporting Twelvers in Tehran.  And while the removal of Assad from power would be a blow to Russia, depending on the ultimate outcome such a move could be disastrous for Iran’s position in Syria.  Iranian Revolutionary Guard units have been fighting the anti-Assad insurgents alongside the Syrian military and the Iran-backed Hezbollah militia.  Syria represents a key pawn in Iran’s geopolitical chessboard that stretches across the vital region.

In recent weeks, there have been strong indications that Iran has been seeking to arm its Hezbollah proxy with even more advanced weapons that can target the Jewish state. Last month, Israel took the unusual step of striking a Hezbollah weapons convoy near the city of Palmyra that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said was transporting advanced weapons to the Iran-backed militia.

Israeli leaders and Hezbollah terrorists have in recent weeks ratcheted up war rhetoric, with Israeli officials warning that Hezbollah, which can only act at the direction of Iran, has been preparing for conflict.

Last Sunday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot warned the IDF would not hold back from striking Lebanese state institutions in a future conflict with Hezbollah. “The recent declarations from Beirut make it clear that in a future war, the targets will be clear: Lebanon and the organizations operating under its authority and its approval,” Eisenkot stated.

Hezbollah is not Iran’s only option. Breitbart Jerusalem has been reporting on the formation of a “Golan Liberation Brigade,” which was announced last month by the secretary-general of the Iraqi Harakat al Nujaba Shiite militia and is reportedly being trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.  The so-called militia is another Iranian front that could be used to target Israel’s Golan Heights at the behest of Tehran.

The next few days and weeks will be critical in determining Iran and Russia’s resolve in the face of an awakened America that has returned from its eight-year slumber.