The gains of Helsinki 1

What actually was discussed by the presidents of the US and Russia at Helsinki on July 16, 2018?

Was anything achieved, anything agreed between them that will have an effect in reality?

Were the leaders of these two powers, who together have more than 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons under their control, able to find common cause in at least some troubled areas where their militaries are or might be engaged?

Angelo Codevilla writes at American Greatness:

The high professional quality of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin’s performance at their Monday press conference in Helsinki contrasts sharply with the obloquy by which the bipartisan US ruling class showcases its willful incompetence. …

Having taught diplomacy for many years, I would choose the Trump-Putin press conference as an exemplar of how these things should be done. Both spoke with the frankness and specificity of serious business. This performance rates an A+.

Both presidents started with the basic truth.

Putin: The Cold War is ancient history. Nobody in Russia (putting himself in this category) wants that kind of enmity again. It is best for Russia, for America, and for everybody else if the two find areas of agreement or forbearance.  

Trump: Relations between the globe’s major nuclear powers have never [since the Cold War? – ed] been this bad — especially since some Americans are exacerbating existing international differences for domestic partisan gain. For the sake of peace and adjustment of differences where those exist and adjustment is possible, Trump is willing to pay a political cost to improve those relations (if, indeed further enraging his enemies is a cost rather than a benefit).

In short, this was a classic statement of diplomatic positions and a drawing of spheres of influence.

As Putin listed his agenda, he showed that today’s Russia is a status quo power, whose primary objective is stability. Having come to power over a country diminished and dispirited, he sought to recover as much as possible of what Russia had lost in the Soviet break-up. He forcibly took back parts of Georgia and Ukraine. In doing so, he pushed against open doors.

Today, no other doors are open. Now being ahead, he wants to stop the game. He knows that this is possible because nobody is going to wage or even risk war against Russia to try disgorging Abkhazia and Crimea. He wants Trump to acknowledge that. Warning against extending NATO to Ukraine and Georgia, he signaled that all else is negotiable.

He also has rebuilt Russia’s military and wants to protect its edge by persuading Trump to keep US missile defense in its current dysfunctional mode. This is an inflexible demand that deserves an equally inflexible rejection. Trump had already delivered it by ordering the establishment of the US Space Force.

By securing his naval and air bases in Syria, Putin succeeded in returning Russia to warm-water sea power. That required backing the Shia side in its intra-Muslim war against the Sunni in Syria, while the United States backed the other side. Today Iran, Syria, Iraq, and Turkey are much as Putin wants them. He wants Trump’s acknowledgment of this statusRussia continues to argue to Americans that both countries have suffered far more from Sunni terrorism — ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood — than from the Shia version.

The two made clear that their commitment to stability in the Middle East outweighs support for either side, and signaled wider cooperation, especially on military matters.

Trump, leaving no doubt that America’s commitment to Israel’s security is absolute, faced Putin with the choice of partnering with America in restraining Iran or of being drawn into an Israeli-American war against an Iran with whose forces Russia’s are interwoven. Putin, for his part, seemed to concur with Trump’s priority. That along with tripartite security consultations with Israel is likely to cool Iran and Hezbollah’s ardor for war.

Trump signaled that America’s interest in Eastern Europe lies in re-establishing peace there, and in safeguarding the independence of its states. Poland and the Baltic States are not just NATO members, but also close to the American people’s hearts. By stressing peace, he made clear that America does not intend to make its defensive commitments there the occasion for a war at or beyond the extreme reach of American power.

Though Russia has backed North Korea in the past, Putin signaled that he is not happy with its acquisition of a modern nuclear force that is effectively China’s pawn. He seemed to promise pressure on North Korea to denuclearize — something that would displease China. Though that was a minor part of both sides’ press conference, it may well signal both sides’ recognition of their mutual interest in not letting China become the Western Pacific’s overlord. Such an understanding would be no minor achievement.

The American ruling class’s attribution of the 2016 election to Trump-Putin collusion, which has characterized US-Russia relations for two years, provided the press conference’s fireworks. Both denied any such thing and insisted there was no evidence of it. In response to a question about whether Putin would make available the 12 Russian state intelligence employees indicted for interference in that election to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Putin pointed to the existence of a treaty of cooperation on criminal matters and promised Mueller that access to the accused through the treaty.

This led to the final flourish. The Associated Press reporter demanded that Trump state whether he believes the opinions of US intelligence leaders or those of Putin. It would be healthy for America were it to digest Trump’s answer: The truth about the charge that Russia stole the contents of the Democratic National Committee’s computer server is not to be found in the opinions of any persons whatever. The truth can be discovered only by examining the server in question—assuming it has not been tampered with since the alleged event. But, said Trump emphatically, those making the accusations against Russia have refused to let the server be examined by US intelligence or by any independent experts. What is the point of accusations coupled with refusal of access to the facts of the matter?

The classic texts of diplomatic practice teach that diplomacy advances the cause of peace and order only to the extent that its practitioners avoid contentious opinions and stick to demonstrable facts.

The AP reporter, who should be ashamed, is beyond shame. Then again, so are the ruling class representatives who have redoubled their animus against Trump. Cheap partisanship is not all that harmful. It is the transfer of domestic partisan animus to international affairs, however, that has the potential to start wars. …

What that ignorant “journalist” was demanding of Trump — precisely what the credentialed experts should know better than to have demanded — was that the president of the United States scream at the president of Russia for all his evils. Competitive “virtue signaling” has become the way of political life in America. To the extent that it bleeds into America’s foreign policy, we are all in big trouble.

It did not, and will not, “bleed into America’s foreign policy” through President Trump. Though his style of negotiating is to be frank and straightforward, he knows, through long experience, how to maintain an atmosphere of amicable goodwill which makes agreement easy where it is possible.

Contrast this meeting with the silly performance that a giggling US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, put on with her failed “Reset” act when she met the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on March 6, 2009, in Geneva; a farce which simply signaled to the Russians that Obama’s America was a push-over.

From the Obama-Clinton “reset’, Russia made all the gains. The US agreed to reduce its nuclear arsenal by a third (which Vice-President Biden hailed as a victory for the US!). Obama broke a US promise to Poland and the Czech Republic to provide them with missile defense systems and radar stations because the Russians were furious at the very idea. The Russians proceeded to destabilize Ukraine, shoot down a civil aircraft in Ukrainian airspace – and annex the Crimea. Though Obama drew a “red line” against the Syrian dictator, Bashar Assad, using chemical weapons against his own people, he did nothing about it when Assad crossed the line by gassing the population of Ghouta, an area in southwest Syria, in August 2013. In the following month, the egregious John Kerry, successor to Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, claimed to have reached  an agreement with the Russians whereby they would reign Assad in, to prevent such a horror being perpetrated again. Russia, he was confident, would oversee the destruction of Assad’s arsenal of sarin and mustard gas and the facilities for their manufacture. Needless to say, Russia did no such thing.

True, we have yet to see the long-term results of any understanding reached by the two presidents at Helsinki. But of this this we can be sure: Vladimir Putin will have understood that Donald Trump is not a man to be trifled with.

President Trump’s success at Helsinki 1

Can the meeting in Helsinki of the presidents of the US and Russia be reckoned a success for President Trump?

Joel B. Pollak thinks it can. He writes at Breitbart:

President Donald Trump scored a diplomatic win on Monday at his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland.

The media, the Democrats, and the Never Trump contingent declared immediately that Trump had failed. But they were bitterly prejudiced against the meeting from the start, to the point where many insisted that Trump cancel it.

To them, looking at the summit through the lens of “collusion”, the summit could only be the ultimate payoff for Putin’s election meddling in 2016. But viewed through the lens of diplomacy, the summit was a milestone in US-Russia relations.

Judging from their remarks at the press conference that followed, the two leaders touched on every major important area of foreign policy: Syria, where the U.S. wants Russia to keep Iran at bay; North Korea, where the U.S. wants Russia to help it pressure the Kim regime to denuclearize; Iran, where the U.S. is attempting to re-organize international pressure; and Ukraine, where the U.S. wants Russia to de-escalate.

President Trump, as promised, challenged Putin on the subject of Russian interference in U.S. elections. It was Putin, not Trump, who pointed that out [at the press conference] — adding: “I had to reiterate things I said several times, including during our personal contacts, that the Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere into internal American affairs, including election process.”

A lie, of course. Putin is a liar and a murderer – a KGB crocodile with a deceptive smile. Still, the interference was trivial, no doubt routine, and accomplished nothing. And as Putin is the ruler of Russia, President Trump is right to try to establish person-to-crocodile relations with him.

Putin also volunteered the information that Trump had insisted the Russian annexation of Crimea was “illegal”. So much for appeasement.

Trump was also aggressive on the topic of Europe. Having just come from the NATO summit, where he berated Germany over buying gas from Russia while relying on America’s protection, Trump announced that the U.S. would compete with Russia to sell gas to Europe.

That is a major challenge of geopolitical significance, a sign the U.S. is going to use its technological edge in oil and gas production to boost Europe’s economic independence from Russia. All Russia has, Trump noted, is the advantage of location.

At the press conference, the Russian journalists — who do not enjoy press freedom — asked questions relevant to foreign policy. The American journalists – who are theoretically free to think freely – devoted nearly every single question to allegations relating to phony charges of Russian “collusion” with the Trump campaign, including the latest developments in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. Their concerns had little to do with US-Russia relations and everything to do with domestic US politics.

Trump’s critics are seizing on a single phrase: “I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

He never “attacked” US intelligence agencies, nor did he explicitly take one side over the other. He said that he trusted Putin — as he should have done, if his goal was to improve relations. He added that “I don’t see any reason why it would be” Russia who carried out the hacking, nudging Russia toward a less adversarial posture.

Trump-haters are also pretending that Trump somehow elevated Putin by granting him a one-on-one meeting. Putin does not need the U.S. to make him more important. He has a massive nuclear arsenal. He just handed out the trophies at the FIFA World Cup. He has military bases in strategic points in key conflict zones.

The question is not whether Trump should have met Putin but rather why they had not met sooner, given the fact that certain US interests in 2018 cannot be achieved without cooperating with Russia.

It is worth noting that in meeting with Putin, Trump was honoring an explicit campaign promise. At a Republican primary debate in 2015, Trump said of Putin: “I would talk to him. I would get along with him. I believe–and I may be wrong, in which case I’d probably have to take a different path, but I would get along with a lot of the world leaders that this country is not getting along with.” Whatever the merits of that approach, the fact that Trump kept his word increases his credibility, at home and abroad.

Conservative critics — including myself — suggested at the time that Trump’s approach would fail, for the same reasons Obama’s “reset” had failed: namely, that the two countries have several divergent interests and values that transcend any particular pair of leaders.

But Trump has built an advantage that Obama never enjoyed by showing Putin that he is prepared to use the U.S. military to back American interests. That caught Putin’s attention and showed him he has at least some interest in cooperating, for now.

The meeting was also noteworthy for what was not said. Putin complained about the US pulling out of the Iran deal, but he was quiet about reports that the U.S. had killed hundreds of Russian military contractors in Syria (without losing a single American). Putin also said nothing about US airstrikes against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.

He dared not complain. That is because, far from being weak, Trump has been tougher than his predecessors toward Russia, letting his actions speak louder than his words.

The ultimate test of the Helsinki summit lies in the future. The Soviet Union was thought to have “won” the historic conference in Helsinki in 1975, until the human rights provisions of the Helsinki Accords helped bring down communism.

What is clear already is that Trump advocated for American interests without conceding anything to Putin other than his dignity. Trump’s critics, who are reduced to worrying that a soccer ball [gifted to him by Putin] could be used to spy on the U.S., are hysterical precisely because they know he succeeded.

We too think the meeting was a success for President Trump. And yes, the test lies in the future.

Russia’s future does not look rosy.

Its economy is precarious. Its main export commodity is oil. Competition with America selling fossil fuels to Europe would be a serious blow to it.

As the Financial Times reported on February 27, 2018 [links to the FT do not work for non-subscribers]:

The lack of investment shows everywhere: low levels of industrial automation paired with a rapidly ageing and shrinking workforce; weak infrastructure; increasing bureaucracy; and corruption are driving production and transaction costs up, hampering attempts to compete with other emerging markets.

And the Russians themselves are dwindling away. Though Russia’s fertility rate has risen from 1.25 in 2000 (a rate which, if sustained, would halve the population with each generation) to 1.6 in 2018, it is still shrinking. Hence the “rapidly ageing and shrinking workforce” that the Financial Times mentions in passing.

However, the Democrats and their media shills cannot bear the idea that the summit was another success for President Trump.

John Brennan, one of the most evil players, erstwhile director of the CIA, goes so far as to say that the president’s meeting with Putin amounts to treason. That such a man makes such an accusation is deeply ironic.

George Neumayr explains at The American Spectator:

John Brennan’s anti-Trump tweets grow more and more maniacal. His latest tweet holds that Donald Trump’s Russian diplomacy in Helsinki “rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors’. It was nothing short of treasonous.”

That tells people all they need to know about the unseriousness of the left’s impeachment drive, not to mention exposing once again the demented malice behind the Obama administration’s spying on the Trump campaign.

The unhinged criticism is also hilariously rich, given that John Brennan, who supported the Soviet-controlled American Communist Party, meets the textbook definition of a useful idiot for the Russians. At the height of the Cold War, he was rooting for the Reds, casting his vote in 1976 for Gus Hall, the American Communist Party’s presidential candidate. If anyone is adept at serving as a dupe for the Russians, it is John Brennan. …

Anybody familiar with Brennan’s past, which includes not only supporting the evil empire of the Soviets but also the evil empire of radical Islam (his time as Obama’s CIA director was marked by apologetics for the thugs of the Muslim Brotherhood, ludicrous attempts to sanitize the concept of jihad, and nonstop whitewashing of the problem of Islamic terrorism), can only laugh at his anti-Trump antics.

That the media gives this fulminating fool and fraud a platform is a measure of its own lack of seriousness and absurdly sudden hawkishness.

The outrage about the Trump-Putin meeting is empty noise, generated by the America Last crowd to hurt an America First president. It won’t work. From Hillary to Pelosi to Brennan, they are the little lefties who cried wolf — after decades of feeding wolves. Their credibility is nil; their counsel is immature and reckless. …

Brennan isn’t just throwing stones from his glass house but boulders. He once said that he feared his support for Soviet stooge Gus Hall threatened his entrance into the CIA in 1980. This sounds like a wild satirical parody, but it isn’t: a dupe for the Soviet Union rises to the top of the CIA, uses his position to shill for Islamic radicals, eggs the FBI into spying on the Trump campaign, then leaves the CIA only to resume the radicalism of his youth, calling for civil disobedience and the overthrow of a duly elected president. Brennan’s only expertise on treachery comes from his own.

The traitor president 1

Obama deceived and betrayed the nation he was elected to lead.

The Weekly Standard reports:

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), led by Senator Rob Portman, [has] released a majority report reviewing the Obama administration’s communications and financial maneuverings with Iranian officials at the time of the Iran nuclear deal. The report, Review of U.S. Treasury Department’s License to Convert Iranian Assets Using the U.S. Financial System, reveals in fuller detail the duplicitous ways in which Obama administration sold the agreement.

As part of the Iran Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), according to the testimony of several Obama-era officials including its Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Iran was to be denied access to the U.S. dollar and the U.S. banking system. The administration’s message was clear, both before and after the deal’s signing: Iran would not be given access to the U.S. financial system. Yet the administration circumvented its own stated policy.

On February 24, 2016, the report reveals, the Treasury Department issued a license permitting Iran to convert $5.7 billion it held in Oman from Omani rials to U.S. dollars and then into euros. This would have directly violated the sanctions law then in place as well as the terms of the JCPOA. The only reason the transaction never took place is that American banks, despite pressure from the Obama administration, refused to go along, citing “compliance, reputational, and legal risks.” To put it plainly: Obama officials asked U.S. banks to break the law, and the banks said no.

Not only that. When Obama-era officials were questioned by lawmakers about whether Iran would have access to the U.S. banking system, those administration officials failed to disclose that, in fact, they had already actively facilitated Iran’s access.

The PSI report also sheds light on the “roadshows” in which Treasury officials advised foreign companies and foreign subsidiaries of American companies on how to do business with Iran without incurring penalties. U.S. government officials had conducted “roadshows” to advise foreign companies and foreign subsidiaries of American companies on how to avoid penalties in doing business with Iran. In these seminars, the report explains, Treasury officials “downplayed any potential future penalties or fines, stating that 95% of the time, [Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control] sends a warning letter or takes no action.”

Don’t worry about doing business with Iran, in other words. Nobody’s going to punish you.

… When Obama administration officials couldn’t persuade Congress and the public of their outlook, they simply lied about it. … The previous administration, it seems, perpetrated deliberate untruths with calamitous consequences for U.S. policy in the Middle East. We look forward to seeing that administration’s officials held accountable.

But will that ever happen?

We wrote in our post The highest treason (October 12, 2016):

Is there any precedent in history for this?

Has any other head of state ever done what President Obama is doing to help empower an enemy?

Far from preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power, as he and Hillary Clinton glibly claim to the nation, Obama goes to extreme lengths to make sure that Iran WILL BE ARMED WITH NUCLEAR WARHEADS AND THE MISSILES TO DELIVER THEM. 

What motive can Obama possibly have?

The only way to to guess the answer to is to look at what Iran is likely to do when it has its nukes.

Will Iran use them against America? The threat has been made.

Is Iran likely to use them against Israel? Iranian leaders have said repeatedly that they want to destroy Israel. (See here and here.)

So the harming of America and the destruction of Israel are Obama’s objectives?!

Is there any other possible explanation?

Now Robert Spencer writes at Front Page:

In a sane political environment, Barack Obama would be tried for treason.

Barack Hussein Obama has planted seeds that will be bearing bitter fruit for years, and probably decades, to come.

He is, without any doubt, the worst President in American history.

Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan? Yes, the doughface Presidents made the Civil War inevitable, but worse came later.

Grant? Blind to corruption and out of his depth, but there have been worse than he as well.

Wilson? That black-hearted Presbyterian bigot arguably gave the world Hitler and World War II, so he is definitely in the Final Four.

Harding? Nah: his tax cuts and return to “normalcy” got the American economy, and the Twenties, roaring.

Yes! Precisely for that, Harding was one of the best presidents.

FDR and LBJ gave us the modern welfare state and dependent classes automatically voting Democrat; the full bill on the damage they did hasn’t yet been presented.

Nixon? A crook and an economic Leftist, who betrayed Taiwan for the People’s Republic; his record certainly isn’t good.

Carter? Nothing good can be said about his four years of sanctimony and incompetence.

But there is one thing Barack Obama has on all competitors: treason.

He showered hundreds of billions of dollars on the Islamic Republic of Iran. There are those who say, “It was their money. It belonged to the Iranian government but was frozen and not paid since 1979.” Indeed, and there was a reason for that: not even Jimmy Carter, who made the Islamic Republic of Iran possible, thought that money, which had been paid by the Shah’s government in a canceled arms deal, belonged to the mullahs who overthrew the Shah. Likewise Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush all thought that the Islamic Republic was not due money that was owed to the Shah.

Only Barack Obama did.

The definition of treason is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. The leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran order their people to chant “Death to America” in mosques every Friday, and repeatedly vow that they will ultimately destroy the United States of America and the state of Israel. How was giving them billions and helping them skirt sanctions applied by the U.S. government not treason?

Other Presidents have been incompetent, corrupt, dishonest, but which has committed treason on a scale to rival the treason of Barack Obama?

The Iranians also operate a global network of jihad terror organizations, one of which, Hizballah, is quite active in Mexico now, with the obvious ultimate intention of crossing the border and committing jihad massacres of Americans. Obama has given a tremendous boost to these initiatives, as well as to Iran’s nuclear program, with his nuclear deal that has given the Iranians hundreds of billions of dollars and essentially a green light to manufacture nuclear weapons, in exchange for absolutely nothing.

There is no telling when the worst consequences of Obama’s aid and comfort to the Islamic Republic of Iran will be felt. But they likely will be felt in one way or another. Even as President Trump moves swiftly to restore sanctions and put Iran on notice that its nuclear activity and global adventurism will not be tolerated, those billions cannot be recovered, and the Iranians have already spent a great deal for their jihad cause.

However this catastrophe plays out, there is one man who will suffer no consequences whatsoever: Barack Obama. That’s Leftist Privilege. It’s good to be a powerful Leftist in Washington nowadays. Laws? Pah! Laws are for conservatives.

Sadly, we think he is right. Obama is unlikely to be punished for his crimes – which include treason.

Will he at least stand condemned in the court of public opinion?

An old colluder with enemy powers 2

John Kerry has been a traitor all his adult life.

It seems he hates America. And loves foreign dictators.

This is what John Kerry alleged in his testimony before the US Senate in 1971 that American soldiers said they did in Vietnam:

They had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in the fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.

He made no mention of the atrocities committed by the enemy, the North Vietnamese.

Earlier in 1971 he had met with the enemy in Paris as part of his anti-Vietnam-war activism. In particular he parleyed with Madam Nguyen Thi Binh, then foreign minister of North Vietnam and a top negotiator at the talks.

Daniel Greenfield recalls more of Kerry’s disgraceful story at Front Page:

On January 19, 2017, John Forbes Kerry left his job at the State Department. Addressing Foggy Bottomers in the C Street lobby, he ended his speech by declaring, “This is not an end. This is a beginning. It’s a new beginning.” That’s just what departing politicos usually say, but he meant it.

Next January, a report appeared that Kerry had met with a top negotiator for the PLO in London.

The secret back-channel negotiator, Hussein Agha, was a close confidant of terrorist dictator Mahmoud Abbas, the racist PLO boss who around this same time had delivered a speech in which he cursed President Trump, shouting, “May your house be destroyed.” Agha was a frequent collaborator with Robert Malley, who allegedly ran Soros and Obama’s back channel to Hamas. Obama fired Malley during the campaign, but once in office brought him back in a variety of roles including as a lead negotiator on the Iran Deal scam and the National Security Council’s point man for the Middle East.

Malley now heads Soros’s International Crisis Group and continues undermining America and defending the Iran Deal.

Kerry urged Agha to tell the PLO boss to “be strong”, “play for time” and “not yield to President Trump’s demand”.

The former Secretary of State suggested that the PLO present its own peace plan that he would push through his contacts in the European Union and Muslim countries.

Kerry also advised the Islamic terror boss to attack Trump personally, instead of the country or administration. And Abbas appeared to have taken his advice. He also assured the Islamic terrorist leader that President Trump wouldn’t be in office a year from now. And that Kerry might run for the job.

All of this was a blatant violation of the Logan Act which bans Americans from conducting negotiations with foreign governments “with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government” or “agent there of” addressing its “disputes or controversies with the United States” or “to defeat the measures of the United States”. The law is clear. The punishment is three years in prison.

But a few weeks ago, Kerry met with Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif at the United Nations. According to the Boston Globe story, he not only met with Zarif, but also the presidents of France and Germany, and Federica Mogherini, the former Communist activist who is the top EU lobbyist for the Iran Deal.

Mogherini had called for a role for “political Islam” in Europe and has consistently undermined American foreign policy in Cuba, North Korea, Russia and Iran by stifling our efforts to isolate dictators and tyrants.

The Iran Deal echo chamber, which Kerry and Mogherini, not to mention Malley, are a part of, has tried to paint Foreign Minister Zarif as a moderate. But last fall, as Trump deployed new sanctions against the IRGC, Zarif had tweeted that, “Iranians – boys, girls, men, women – are ALL IRGC”.

IRGC stands for Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. It’s the central terror hub of Iran which has its greasy fingers deep in its nuclear program and is in charge of its terrorism networks around the world.

The IRGC’s support for Islamic terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan is estimated to have cost the lives of between 500 and 1,000 Americans. At one point, Iran was paying the Taliban $1,000 for each American soldier that they killed.

From his Viet Cong days to his IRGC days, Kerry colludes with the murderers of American soldiers.

… Kerry’s goal in these meetings is, “to apply pressure on the Trump administration from the outside.” That’s exactly the behavior the Logan Act was meant to sanction.

In both of his meetings with Islamic terror state officials and agents, Kerry has conveyed his opposition to the United States government while encouraging the terror states to subvert its policies. He has engaged in private negotiations with foreign governments on behalf of a shadow foreign policy opposition aligned with the non-profit groups that form the Iran Lobby and the Iran Deal echo chamber.

It’s not just a Logan Act violation. It’s treason.

This isn’t the first time that the radical activist turned senator and secretary of state has violated the Logan Act. The medal thrower had been reviled by Vietnam vets for his meeting with Madame Binh of Vietnam’s Marxist-Leninist PVR.

As senator, he traveled to Nicaragua to undermine President Reagan by conducting talks with Comandante Ortega and his murderous Marxist-Leninist regime. Its favorite song when Kerry was providing aid and comfort to it was, “Here or There, Yankees Will Die Everywhere.”

When Republican senators sent a warning letter to Iran that a deal without congressional approval would be non-binding, the Iran Lobby and its media allies accused them of violating the Logan Act. Typical media hit pieces from the period included CNN’s “Did 47 Republican senators break the law in plain sight?” and ABC News’ “165,000+ Sign Petition to Prosecute GOP Senators for Treason”. That’s nothing like the media’s response to Kerry’s treasonous efforts to undermine the United States.

But the Logan Act specifically mentions a citizen who lacks the “authority of the United States”. When George Logan, after whom the act was named, conducted his illegal negotiations, he had not yet become a member of the Senate. Senators do have a constitutional role in foreign policy. …

Democrats and their media allies have turned the country upside down investigating claims of collusion by the administration. Obama and Clinton allies in the DOJ have eavesdropped on Americans, raided their homes in the middle of the night, and denied the President of the United States the elementary protection of attorney-client privilege based on the opposition research of the Clinton campaign.

Collusion is not a Federal crime. Violating the Logan Act is.

The double standard on Trump and Kerry would have us believe that the President-elect has no right to back channels to foreign governments, but that a former Secretary of State is entitled to have them.

That’s not a legal norm. It’s another case of Democrats criminalizing anything Republicans do while legalizing their own blatant violations of the law. The President-elect has legitimate reasons for reaching out to foreign governments. A former secretary of state from the opposition party has no such reasons. And when his outreach undermines the foreign policy of his successor by urging foreign governments to sabotage it and attack the President of the United States, his only reason appears to be treason. …

The Democrats, the media and their Mueller spearhead have sought to retroactively criminalize contacts with Russia (carefully postdating their own Russian outreach of the Bush and Obama era) because it’s an enemy country. But what exactly is Iran: a terror state whose motto is, “Death to America”?

These groups have crafted a narrative in which meetings with certain countries are inherently suspect, Russia, the UAE and Israel, while collaboration with Iran and Qatar is legit diplomacy. There’s no legal or national interest basis for such a classification, but there is an ideological one. Qatar is a key backer of the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic terror groups. As is Iran. The UAE and Israel oppose them.

And that’s at the heart of the problem.

Kerry and the rest of the Iran Deal lobby aren’t meeting with Iran, the PLO and the EU as representatives of the United States, but of a political faction whose allegiances are ideological, not national. They aren’t working on behalf of the United States, but are there representing a leftist shadow government.

Or as Kerry reportedly told the PLO, the many “dissatisfied” people in the American establishment.

Unlike Carter and other rogue leftists, Kerry isn’t acting alone. He’s the most visible figure in a powerful and influential international movement. And its footholds in this country include billionaires, major think tanks, media echo chamber and smear groups that are constantly handfeeding hit pieces to the press.

Kerry’s shadow government diplomacy represents a vertical ideological integration with European governments that share his ideology, and their allies in “political Islam” in Iran and Qatar. The political left hopes to use the rising power of political Islam, from Iran’s nuclear program to Muslim migration to the Islamic coups of the Muslim Brotherhood to check the national and international power of the West.

The left and its rogue Never Trumper allies ceaselessly lecture us about the “Rule of Law”.

Let’s have their version of the rule of law. And let’s apply it to Kerry, Rhodes, Malley and all the rest.

If we have an actual rule of law, then there will be a special prosecutor appointed to investigate Kerry’s collusion with Iran. Any meetings between members of the Iran Lobby, both official and unofficial, will be eavesdropped on by the NSA and their names unmasked at the request of Trump officials.

The homes of Iran Lobby members will be raided in the middle of the night. The Iran echo chamber figures now ensconced in top think tanks, including one funded by Qatar, will lose their homes, be interviewed by the FBI and be forced to plead guilty to lying to the feds if they misstate anything.

When Kerry wakes up to FBI men ransacking his seven bedroom waterfront Martha’s Vineyard estate at gunpoint and patting down his wife in their bedroom for weapons, then we’ll have the rule of law.

John Kerry colludes with officials of an enemy state

Stupidité! 2

It seems to us that the (unlikely but actual) president of France, Emmanuel Macron, has a crush (decidedly not reciprocated) on President Trump. We do not think that is stupid, just more emotional than is necessary.

Macron came to Washington, D.C., made some speeches, either completely empty – just loose strings of grandiose phrases – or plain nonsensical, and got away unharmed.

Bruce Bawer writes what needs to be said about Macron’s stupidities at Front Page:

Last week, Emmanuel Micron, I mean Macron, visited Washington, had dinner at the White House, and gave a speech on Capitol Hill in which he referred to Hemingway’s memoir A Moveable Feast as a novel, identified the French architect of Washington, D.C., whom Americans know as Pierre L’Enfant, by his middle name, Charles, and attributed a famous line by Ronald Reagan to Teddy Roosevelt. The line in question was the one about how freedom is never more than one generation from extinction.

There was, in fact, a good deal of rhetoric in his speech about freedom – and the threats thereto. Given what’s going on in France these days, that would only make sense. But his approach to his country’s – and the West’s – current travails was, to say the least, curious. On 9/11, asserted Macron, “many Americans had an unexpected rendezvous with death.” How poetic! How French! And how inappropriate a way to refer to thousands of people being evaporated one fine Tuesday morning. He made it sound as if death by jihad had been their divinely ordained destiny – as if the hijackers of those planes had been instruments of some cosmic will.

Macron went on to mention the “terrible terrorist attacks” that have struck his own country in recent years. “It is a horrific price,” he pronounced, “to pay for freedom, for democracy.” Meaning what? In what sense are such attacks the “price” we “pay for freedom”? Did Macron mean something like what London mayor Sadiq Khan meant when he said that living with terrorism is “part and parcel of living in a big city”? I’d say the people who died on 9/11 were paying for American leaders’ blithe indifference to the existential danger of Islam – and that those who’ve died in more recent terror attacks in Europe were paying for their own leaders’ cowardly irresolution (or outright defeatism) on the subject.

Macron might have said something gutsy about his fellow politicians’ culpability in the violent deaths of terrorist victims. But no. Like every other European-establishment political hack, he posed as a hero of freedom. Some hero: he didn’t dare breathe the word Islam or Muslim or even jihad. But what else to expect from a man who … has called for Arabic to be taught in every French high school, for “cathedral mosques” to be built in every major French city, and for enhanced measures to be taken against critics of Islam?

In any event, Macron’s grandiose Gallic gush about freedom – and about the cherished centuries-long friendship between the American and French people (yeah, tell that to the cab drivers in Paris) – was really just throat-clearing before he got around to the Paris climate-change accords, the Iran deal, and trade.

Yes, there was this, somewhat later in his oration: “Both in the United States and in Europe, we are living in a time of anger and fear because of these current global threats, but these feelings do not build anything….Closing the door to the world will not stop the evolution of the world. It will not douse but inflame the fears of our citizens.” Qu’est-ce que c’est? The French claim to love logic. But where’s the logic here? By “current global threats”, Macron presumably meant jihadist violence and Islamization. But what was Macron telling us to do about them? Nothing. Fear is bad. Anger is wrong. And stronger border controls? They won’t work, because they won’t stop the world’s “evolution”. Is evolution his euphemism for Islamization?

Macron proceeded to denounce “extreme nationalism”. Clearly, he wasn’t talking about actual far-right fascists. No, he meant “America first”. He meant Brexit. “Personally, if you ask me,” he said, “I do not share the fascination for new, strong powers, the abandonment of freedom, and the illusion of nationalism.” In short, he was equating “freedom” with rule by the EU and UN (for which he worked in a plug) and indicting ordinary folks who actually think their countries belong to them. During his rant about climate change, Macron proclaimed that we need to save the Earth because, as he put it, “there is no planet B!” Well, I couldn’t help thinking, there’s no France B, either. And the fact is that his own country is going down the tubes – and fast. But if you believed his speech, the only threat to liberté, égalité, et fraternité in the West isn’t Islam but “fake news”. 

Yes, he actually used those words. Unlike Trump, however, he wasn’t referencing the left-wing distortions of CNN, the New York Times, and their European equivalents. Here’s what he said: “To protect our democracies, we have to fight against the ever-growing virus of fake news, which exposes our people to irrational fear and imaginary risks.” Irrational fear? Imaginary risks? Plainly, here was yet another craven European pol who, even as Rome is burning, insists that the problem isn’t the arsonists or the fire but the firefighters. How many of the House and Senate members applauding him on Capitol Hill knew that Macron recently called for a law in France that would summarily close down online sources of “fake news” – by which (he’s made clear) he means news sources critical of Islam?

Macron’s Washington speech, as it happened, came only days after the release of the most comprehensive study yet of Islam in France. Co-sponsored by the Sorbonne, it concluded that the country’s second- and third-generation Muslims, who make up seven or eight percent of its population, are increasingly Islamized. Most have no respect for French law and culture; most approve of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Researcher Olivier Galland said his results were, “to put it mildly, harrowing” – reflective of community values in stark contrast with those of la belle Republique.

France’s mainstream news media reacted to the study with outrage. Galland and his team, charged Le Monde, were “stigmatizing Muslims”. But for those not interested in whitewashing Islam, the study only affirmed a grim reality that has been reported worldwide for years in what Macron would call “fake news” media – a reality of no-go zones, mass car burnings, large-scale gang riots, police who are scared to arrest Muslims, firefighters who hesitate to enter Muslim neighborhoods, anti-Semitic attacks that are driving Jews from France, historians who feel compelled to write “Islamically correct” textbooks, and high-school teachers who (as Millière puts it) “go to work with a Qur’an in their hands, to make sure that what they say in class does not contradict the sacred book of Islam.” Oh, and a tiny cohort of brave fools who are put on trial for daring to speak the truth about all this.

Another recent document is of interest here. On March 19, Le Figaro published a statement signed by about one hundred French intellectuals, among them Alain Besançon, Pascal Bruckner, Alain Finkielkraut, Bernard Kouchner, Robert Redeker, Pierre-André Taguieff, and Ibn Warraq. “Islamist totalitarianism,” they warned, is gaining ground in France by, among other things, representing itself “as a victim of intolerance.” It has demanded – and received – “a special place” in French society, resulting in an “apartheid” that “seeks to appear benign but is in reality a weapon of political and cultural conquest”. The signatories declared their opposition to this silent subjugation and their wish “to live in a world where women are not deemed to be naturally inferior….a world where people can live side by side without fearing each other … a world where no religion lays down the law.”

On the one hand, it was a powerful manifesto – nothing less than a j’accuse for the twenty-first century – whose power lay in its courageous candor about the real threat facing the Republic of France. On the other hand, my response upon reading it was: Well, good luck with that. Some of these intellectuals have been saying these things for a long time; others have joined the chorus more recently. All praise to every last one of them. But nothing will change in France until public proclamations by intellectuals give way to meaningful nationwide action by ordinary citizens – who, alas, in the second and deciding round of last year’s presidential election, gave Macron, this would-be Marshal Pétain, twice as many votes as the woman who, whatever her imperfections and her unfortunate parentage, is the closest their poor broken country has to a potential Saint Joan.

We are not fans of Saint Joan. But we do think Marine Le Pen would have been the better choice for the presidency of France in this late hour when the Islamic jihad needs urgently to be engaged and defeated and the EU disbanded – as she advocates.

A report from Syria 83

Our British associate, Chauncey Tinker, proprietor of The Participator, has drawn our attention to this video.

OAN is a conservative news channel.

The reporter, Pearson Sharp, makes a strong case that the gas attack on Douma was staged for propaganda purposes. We had believed and said that there was a gas attack, so we post the video as self-correction. (Of course, we still cannot be sure whether or not there was a gas attack, and if there was, who launched it. Sharp’s interpreter may have deceived him, for instance; or the witnesses could have been lying.)

In any case, we are glad that the sites in Syria connected with the production of chemical and biological weapons have been bombed to rubble.

Since the Russians have acquired a firm foothold in Syria, and Iran too has a dangerous presence there, was the bombing politically and strategically justified?

Bruce Thornton writes, in part, at Front Page:

Given that our economy is inseparable from the global economy, we have no choice but to be concerned about the critical straits and canals through which global commerce travels, and the airports throughout the world through which people can reach our shores in less than a day. We also can’t ignore the numerous illiberal and autocratic regimes whose beliefs and values conflict with those of the West. The global market … needs a global sheriff so that this astonishing increase in technological innovation and wealth and their global distribution is free to continue. We may not have chosen this role, we may not like or want the job, but history so far has left the U.S. as the only great power with the military capacity for keeping order, and the political beliefs and principles that ensure we will not abuse that power to oppress others.

Yet that truth does not justify the one-world idealism that believes everybody on the planet wants to live like Westerners, or to embrace Western principles and goods like political freedom, tolerance of minorities, free speech, sex equality, secularist government, an open society, and the preference for discussion, negotiation, and treaties as the way to solve conflict rather than brute force. The great diversity of ways of life and beliefs means that transnational institutions, agreements, covenants, and U.N. Security Council resolutions will always in the end be instruments of diverse and conflicting national interests. They are honored as long as they serve those interests, but abused or subverted when they don’t, especially by the more powerful nations. …

The West’s military dominance in the 20th century ensured that other nations would bandwagon with the West and sign such international agreements, with the tacit proviso that they would violate them whenever necessary, even as they paid them lip-service. The history of the last century, which is littered with violated treaties and covenants, proves this obvious truth. …

Indeed, Syria offers a perfect example … of a superficial adherence to international covenants that facilitates violations of them. After Barack Obama issued his empty “red line” threat about Assad’s use of chemical weapons, Secretary of State John Kerry negotiated an empty “solution” to the problem by making Russia the authority overseeing the elimination of Assad’s stockpiles, even though it was and still is not in Russia’s geostrategic interests to disarm Assad. So we got a theatrical compliance that left Assad his weapons, and even worse, gave Russia a sanctioned entrée into the Syrian civil war. The pretense of adhering to international law gave cover to Russia’s strategic aims in the region, one of which was the continuation of Assad’s murderous regime. …

What could justify the raids against Syria? Deterrence is frequently invoked, but it obviously didn’t work last year after the President destroyed some of Assad’s jets. Over the past year, Assad has continued to use chemical weapons on civilians. Indeed, within hours of our latest attack Assad was using high explosives and barrel-bombs to slaughter people who are just as dead or mangled as the victims of his chemical attack. Further consequences may follow. Russia and Iran for now may be blustering to save face, but there still may be some retaliation that we will then have to answer. For once a nation goes down the road of deterring a bad actor by force, it has to continue indefinitely in order to maintain its prestige. It can’t announce publicly that it is a “one-off”.

Americans traditionally do not like constant war or military interventions, particularly “humanitarian” ones. We prefer to intervene when necessary, kill the bad guys, then come back home … Unfortunately, in today’s interconnected world, such conflicts are not as rare as we’d like. But we must make it clear that we will not intervene when necessary just to rush home as though the work is done, nor will we engage in conflicts and occupation of the defeated enemy in order to create liberal democracy.

Rather, we need a foreign policy similar to the “butcher and bolt” policy of the British Empire, or what Israel calls “mowing the grass”. This means when an adversary or enemy challenges our power and interests, or those of our close allies, we should use force to send a message, usually by destroying some of its military assets. We should not rationalize this action by appealing to international law, the U.N., or some fantastical common vales or principles of the mythic “international community.” We should make it clear that there is no time-certain for when we stop, rather that we will return whenever we judge it necessary. And we should do it on the principle that a sovereign nation has a right to defend itself as it sees fit, and owes accountability only to its citizens.

In the near future, bombing Syria will likely still be necessary, not just to deter Assad or change the regime into a liberal democracy, but to let all the players in the region know that the greatest military power in history is watching events in a region we deem vital to our interests, and that we will use force to remind them of our unprecedented ability to project devastating power across the globe. Such a policy will strengthen our prestige, and concentrate wonderfully the minds of our adversaries.

The only remaining question is, Will we the people of the United States be willing to pay the costs and accept the risks of such a policy?

Posted under Iran, Russia, Syria, United States, Videos by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, April 17, 2018

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Missile strikes on Syria: punishment, prevention, and warning 4

“What did the missile strikes on Syria’s chemical weapons sites do for America?”

“Why should Americans expend blood and treasure for Syrians victimized by their own government?”

“America is not the world’s policeman.”

Such are the questions and protests that are coming from angry commentators, including many conservatives.

So was President Trump’s decision to act as he did right or wrong?

Claudia Rosett, for long a trusty reporter on the horror show called the United Nations, writes at PJ Media:

With air strikes on Syria’s chemical weapons facilities, carried out jointly with Britain and France, America has done the right thing.

Leading from in front, President Trump is finally redrawing the red line that President Obama erased in 2013. Whatever the threats and criticisms that will surely follow, the world will be safer for it. The vital message is that America is no longer the hamstrung giant of the Obama era. Tyrants such as Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, and his patrons in Moscow and Tehran, have been served notice that it would be unwise to continue to assume that America will waffle, appease or simply retreat while they take upon themselves the shaping – to monstrous effect – of the 21st-century world order. This message is also likely to resonate in Beijing (which has reportedly been planning live-fire naval exercises next week in the Taiwan Strait) and Pyongyang (with its nuclear missile projects).

The immediate aim of the US-led air strikes was to end the chemical weapons attacks that Syria’s Assad regime has continued to inflict on its own people – despite Assad’s promises in 2013 to surrender his chemical weapons, and Russia’s promise to ensure Assad did so. On Friday, speaking at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, Ambassador Nikki Haley charged that by U.S. estimates, “Assad has used chemical weapons in the Syrian war at least 50 times” – some of these attacks within the past year, including the gas attack that killed dozens … in the Syrian city of Douma.

There’s room for debate about whether it is America’s responsibility, on humanitarian grounds, to stop such atrocities. But whatever your views on protecting children in a far-off land from the hideous effects of chemical weapons, there is a larger, strategic reason for trying to stop Assad. Syria, with its liberal use of chemical weapons, has been setting a horrific precedent – repeatedly violating the Chemical Weapons Convention to which Damascus acceded in 2013, and eroding the longstanding international taboo against chemical warfare. This is dangerous way beyond Syria. As Haley told the UN Security Council: “All nations and all people will be harmed if we allow Assad to normalize the use of chemical weapons.”

In theory, the United Nations was supposed to prevent this, ensuring in tandem with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that Assad would give up all his chemical weapons – with the specific oversight and guarantees of Russia, under a deal cut in 2013 by Obama and Putin. As I explained in an article earlier this week for The Hill, the UN has failed utterly, thanks to Putin’s cynical exploitation of the entire setup. Russia used the chemical weapons disarmament deal as a portal for its own military entry into Syria in support of Assad, and has since been using its veto on the UN Security Council, along with a torrent of Kremlin propaganda, to run diplomatic cover for Assad.

As many conservative commentators pointed out at the time, it was stupid (if not collusional) of Obama and his secretary of state John Kerry to hand over the responsibility for overseeing Syria’s WMD abandonment to Russia.

The upshot has been that if the US does not stop Assad’s use of chemical weapons, then nobody will.

Neither Britain nor France would have done it without the US.

The US could have done it on its own. British and French participation in the missile attack was useful for President Trump, though not necessary for the success of the operation. The huge majority of the missiles were American – 88 of the 105. Nine were French and 8 were British.

Prime Minister May allowed British forces to strike Syria along with US forces because she “owed” President Trump for his supporting her, when she hit back at Russia for the poisoning of two Russian expats in Britain by expelling Putin’s diplomats and closing a consulate. She asked President Trump to do the same, and he did. She was able to give the order for the strike on Syria by the RAF without consulting parliament because the MPs were still absent on their Easter break. She seized the moment, and now there’s an outcry in the Commons – as well as the country – about it.

As for President Macron, he seems to be fascinated by President Trump, wanting to follow him and yet also to direct him. Macron claimed that he had “convinced” Trump that he should keep the US military engaged in Syria – and then he retracted the claim.

Last April, after Assad used sarin gas in an attack that killed almost 100 people, Trump ordered a strike of 59 Tomahawk missiles on a Syrian airbase. Evidently, that was not enough to stop Assad’s chemical weapons spree.

At a Pentagon press briefing Friday evening held shortly after Trump’s public announcement of the strikes on Syria, Gen. Joseph Dunford listed three targets “struck and destroyed,” which he said were “specifically associated with the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons program.” The last two on his list were chemical weapons storage facilities, one of which included “an important command post”. On these, I don’t know anything beyond the generic descriptions Dunford gave at the briefing.

But the first target on Dunford’s list had a very familiar ring. He described it as “a scientific research center located in the greater Damascus area”. He added: “This military facility was a Syrian center for the research, development, production and testing of chemical and biological warfare technology.”

That sure sounds like the notorious Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center, also known as the SSRC. In which case there can be no doubt that these air strikes were aimed at an incredibly high-value target, an outfit central to some of the worst depravities of Assad’s weapons programs, and – as it happens – a longtime client of North Korea and Iran. On the 99 percent probability that this was the research center to which Dunford referred, here’s some background:

For starters, I’d credit Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis with telling it exactly as it is, when he said at the same Pentagon press briefing Friday night, “We were very precise and proportionate. But at the same time, it was a heavy strike.”

The SSRC has been on the U.S. sanctions list for 13 years, first designated under the Bush administration in 2005, with periodic, horrifying updates under the Obama and Trump administrations, targeting its various fronts, procurement arms, officials and connections.

This is not just any old research center. According to the U.S. Treasury, it is “the Syrian government agency responsible for developing and producing non-conventional weapons and the missiles to deliver them”. …

On April 24, 2017, following Assad’s sarin gas attack on the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun, the Trump administration blacklisted 271 employees of the SSRC, stating that these individuals “have expertise in chemistry and related disciplines and/or have worked in support of SSRC’s chemical weapons since at least 2012”.  In other words, during the same time frame in which Russia (and former secretary of State John Kerry) were assuring us that 100 percent of the chemical weapons were gone from Syria, the Syrian regime’s SSRC was prolifically busy plowing ahead with Assad’s chemical weapons program.

We also have it on good authority that during roughly that same interval, the SSRC was ordering up shipments from North Korea. According to the UN Panel of Experts on North Korea sanctions, in a report dated March 5, 2018, their investigations into weapons and dual-use shipments to Syria from North Korea turned up more than 40 shipments between 2012 and 2017 “by entities designated by Member States as front companies for the Scientific Studies Research Centre of the Syrian Arab Republic.” Among these shipments were items “with utility in ballistic missile and chemical weapons programs”.

If the SSRC was indeed struck and destroyed, the likely benefits are enormous. That would deprive Assad of one of the most diabolical laboratories of his evil regime, quite likely providing a big setback to his chemical weapons program, with the two-fer that it might also have zapped his bioweapons program.

It would also send a useful message to everyone from the SSRC’s suppliers, such as Iran and North Korea, to such predatory dictators as Russia’s Putin and China’s Xi Jinping. Destroying the SSRC with air strikes ought to drive home, in a way that no amount of UN debate and no quantity of sanctions designations ever could, that these days the U.S. and its allies are serious about their red lines. 

The SSRC was struck. According to the caption to this picture in The Independent, this rubble is what’s left of “part” of it.

Gas 5

Did the dictator of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, attack a town with lethal gas (in April 2018)?

President Trump says he did, so it has to be expected that the “Resistance” will deny it. Reuters and the New York Times, however, have both reported it as if, on the whole, they believe it. (See here and here.)

As  for foreign news channels, you cannot get more anti-Trump than the BBC, and they also say it happened – while casting doubt on the trustworthiness of the White Helmets organization which is one of the sources of the report.

At least 70 people have died in a suspected chemical attack in Douma, the last rebel-held town in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta, rescuers and medics say.

Volunteer rescue force the White Helmets tweeted graphic images showing several bodies in basements. It said the deaths were likely to rise.

There has been no independent verification of the reports.

Syria has called the allegations of a chemical attack a “fabrication” – as has its main ally, Russia.

The US state department said Russia – with its “unwavering support” for Syria’s government – “ultimately bears responsibility” for the alleged attacks.

What do we know about the attack?

Several medical, monitoring and activist groups reported details of a chemical attack.

“Seventy people suffocated to death and hundreds are still suffocating,” said Raed al-Saleh, head of the White Helmets. An earlier, now deleted tweet, put the number dead at more than 150.

The pro-opposition Ghouta Media Center tweeted that more than 75 people had “suffocated”, while a further 1,000 people had suffered the effects of the alleged attack.

It blamed a barrel bomb allegedly dropped by a helicopter which it said contained Sarin, a toxic nerve agent.

The Union of Medical Relief Organizations, a US-based charity that works with Syrian hospitals, told the BBC the Damascus Rural Specialty Hospital had confirmed 70 deaths.

A spokeswoman said there were reports of people being treated for symptoms including convulsions and foaming of the mouth, consistent with nerve or mixed nerve and chlorine gas exposure.

Continued shelling overnight and on Sunday was making it impossible to reach victims.

As the allegations emerged, Syria’s state news agency Sana said the reports were invented by the Jaish al-Islam rebels who remain in control in Douma.

“Jaish al-Islam terrorists are in a state of collapse and their media outlets are [making] chemical attack fabrications in an exposed and failed attempt to obstruct advances by the Syrian Arab army,” Sana said.

So Russia and Sana deny there was any such attack. That is not surprising.

But what we find surprising is the resistance to believing the reports to be true by some of our own regular Facebook commenters. There seems to be an unwillingness among a number of our otherwise like-thinkers to believe that Assad would do such a thing. We find that strange. Some say that whether the reports are true or not, America should take no part in the Syrian civil war no matter what Assad does. 

And Tucker Carlson on Fox is deploring the possibility of the US using force against Assad as this is being written. He asks how the US would become safer if there were regime change in Syria.

But Russia and Iran are deeply involved in it, and they both threaten US interests.

President Trump asks:

If they’re innocent, why aren’t they allowing people to go in and prove it? Because as you know, they’re claiming they didn’t make the attack.

Since he believes it happened, the big question now is: What will he do about it?

What do our readers think about all this?

Posted under Arab States, Civil war, Iran, Russia, Syria by Jillian Becker on Monday, April 9, 2018

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Rebuilding the might of the USA 6

President Trump has explained that he had to sign the outrageous “omnibus” bill because he urgently needs the funds for rebuilding the US military.

Matthew Vadum writes at Front Page:

After eight long years of Barack Obama decimating the military, President Trump is proudly beginning the process of rebuilding the nation’s armed forces and defense  capabilities.

Decimating? Destroying one in ten of whatever? Much as we appreciate the article we are quoting, it was not a “decimation” of the military; it was letting the equipment of national defense, the weapons of war, decay. The very fabric of America’s ships and planes was allowed to rot.

Obama manifestly hated the US military. (Not “the military” in general – he had a soft spot for Iranian missiles and potential nuclear bombs.)

As the president signed the omnibus spending bill Friday that avoided another partial government shutdown and funded the government through the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30, Defense Secretary James Mattis, hailed the measure as “the largest military budget in history, reversing many years of decline and unpredictable funding.”

At the White House Trump explained why such a spending boost was necessary as he reflected on the serious damage that the previous president did to national security and military preparedness.

For the last eight years, deep defense cuts have undermined our national security, hollowed out  — if you look at what’s taken out, they’ve hollowed our readiness as a military unit, and put America at really grave risk. My highest duty is to keep America safe. Nothing more important. The omnibus bill reverses this dangerous defense trend. As crazy as it’s been, as difficult as it’s been, as much opposition to the military as we’ve had from the Democrats –  and it has been tremendous –  I try to explain to them, you know, the military is for Republicans and Democrats and everybody else. It’s for everybody. But we have tremendous opposition to creating, really, what will be by far the strongest military that we’ve ever had.

Trump said at the press conference that he was signing the massive pork-laden spending bill that contains “a lot of things that I’m unhappy about” because of “national security.”

But I say to Congress: I will never sign another bill like this again. I’m not going to do it again. Nobody read it. It’s only hours old. Some people don’t even know what is in it. $1.3 trillion — it’s the second largest ever.

The bill contains an impressive $700 billion in military expenditures, about $3 billion of which will go to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. Trump rattled off a list of other line items, $1.8 billion for 24 FA-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft fighter jets, $1.7 billion for 10 P-8, $1.1 billion for 56 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, $1.1 billion to upgrade 85 Abrams tanks, and $705 million “for the cooperative programs that we’re working with Israel and others on various missile defense systems.”

“We’re spending a lot of money on missile defense,” Trump added. “We have a lot of offense that’s been recently installed. We’re spending tremendous money on missile defense.”

Ramping up spending after Obama’s assaults on the military is critical, defense analysts say.

Obama did lasting damage to the military, according to Thomas C. Donnelly of the American Enterprise Institute who after Obama left office inventoried the damage the 44th president did.

Obama attempted to end U.S. involvement in the Middle East by unilaterally pulling out of Iraq, carrying out a fake surge in Afghanistan, and ignoring the Syrian civil war, Donnelly writes. Obama let Russia annex Crimea, and China artificially create islands in the South China Sea.

Obama told outgoing then-Russian president Dmitry Medvedev in 2012 to pass the message on to Vladimir Putin to ease up on the missile defense issue until after that year’s approaching election when Obama would “have more flexibility”. 

There’s collusion for anyone who is really looking for it and not just inventing it in order to depose the president.

Obama also limited any future president’s ability to use the military overseas by curtailing its resources.

Comparing the five-year defense plan Obama left Trump with, with the plan Obama was left with at the end of George W. Bush’s presidency, the Department of Defense “has lost more than $250 billion in purchasing power”.

In his first year in office, Obama ordered then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates to slice off $300 billion from Pentagon programs, “which had the effect of eliminating several of the major weapons-acquisitions projects that had survived Donald Rumsfeld’s attempt to ‘transform’ the force by ‘skipping a generation of weapons systems’.”

Gates halted the production of the F-22, limiting it to 187 planes instead of the 750 the Air Force originally wanted and scuttled another $80 billion in spending, which Obama transferred to non-defense programs, Donnelly writes.

“Non-defense programs” such as “outreach to Muslims”, wasn’t it?

In 2011 Obama chopped another $400 billion from the DoD budget without even telling Gates in advance, which led to the so-called sequestration or Budget Control Act (BCA) that capped defense spending for years but left entitlement spending intact. The move led to long-term spending on Pentagon programs by almost $1 trillion from fiscal 2009 to 2023, he writes.

President Obama slashed Army and Marines personnel and gutted the ships and airplanes of the Navy and Air Force. The reduced force is not as well prepared as its predecessors.

“During the Cold War, the units of the Army and Air Force were always about 90 percent ready in terms of personnel, equipment, and training,” but nowadays readiness is down to about 60 percent or less, [Donnelly] writes.

This also means that the military’s ability to do anything more challenging than routine operations, such as keeping sea lanes open, is severely limited. It is no coincidence that in his 2012 “defense guidance,” Obama lowered the standard by which we determine the optimal size of our forces. Since the years prior to World War II, and as befits a global power, we have maintained the capacity to conduct two large-scale campaigns at once. Obama lowered the bar to just one war at a time.

Obama’s cockamamie social engineering schemes devastated the military’s morale, something his successor aims to turn around.

Trump’s presser came after his announcement Thursday that U.S. Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster (active) would soon be replaced by former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton as national security advisor. Bolton’s appointment is an unalloyed good that will benefit U.S. national security.

McMaster replaced Mike Flynn, also a lieutenant general in the Army (retired) in February 2017 after just 24 days in the post, the briefest such tenure on record. McMaster was a disaster at the National Security Council where he spent his time protecting Obama holdovers and purging competent professionals attuned to the threat that Islamofascism, including the brutal totalitarian theocracy in Iran, poses to the United States.

With Bolton at Trump’s side and ramped up defense spending, America may well be on its way to having its greatness restored.

Yes, and may it be so.

Feminists yearning for subjugation 13

While women in Iran were risking imprisonment by casting off their hijabs – the symbol of their subjugation to Muhammad’s male minions – the grandees at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) handed them out to their female staff on “World Hijab Day” in the hope that they would not just try them on, as they suggested with crocodile grins, but keep them and wear them. (How do we know that this is their hope? Because the FCO was long ago captivated by the charms of Islam. Because successive generations of FCO civil servants worked long and hard – in co-operation with other European foreign ministries – for the Islamization of Britain and Europe, and now see their goal within reach. Because the FCO is famously the enemy of Britain, just as the State Department has long been and even now still is the enemy of America.)

What is new, or at least newly apparent, is that Western feminists long to be subjugated.

How do we know that this is their desire? There are proofs aplenty.

Take Sweden for example. Sweden boasts of having “a feminist government”. There are twelve women and eleven men in the ministerial posts, all of them self-declared feminists.

Bruce Bawer writes at Gatestone:

“Sweden has the first feminist government in the world,” brags the Swedish government on its official website. …

[Sweden’s] feminism … is “intersectional” feminism. What is “intersectional” feminism? It … accepts a hierarchy whereby other “victim groups” – such as “people of color” and Muslims – are higher up on the grievance ladder than women …

This means that “intersectional” feminists must be culturally sensitive and culturally relative, recognizing and privileging culturally predicated values other than sexual equality. They must be feminists who understand that while no expression of contempt for the purported tyranny of Western males can be too loud, overstated or vulgar, they must, in their encounters with less feminist-minded cultures, temper their devotion to female equality out of respect for those cultures’ different priorities. In practice, this compulsion to respect the different priorities of other cultures is most urgent, and the respect itself most cringing when the culture in question is the one in which female inequality is most thoroughly enshrined and enforced.

In no country have the precepts of “intersectional” feminism been more unequivocally endorsed by the political and cultural establishment, and more eagerly internalized by the citizenry, than in Sweden. Case in point: one of the consequences of “intersectional” feminism is a severe reluctance to punish Muslim men for acting in accordance with the moral dictates of their own culture; and it is precisely because of this reluctance that Sweden, with its “feminist government”,  has … become the “rape capital of the West”. Moreover, it was “intersectionality” that, last year, led every female member of a Swedish government delegation to Iran to wear head coverings and to behave like the humblest harem on the planet. “With this gesture of subjugation,” observed one Swiss news website, “they have not only made a joke of any concept of ‘feminism’ but have also stabbed their Iranian sisters in the back.”

Every single action [of this sort on the part of Swedish government officials, police and civil servants] has been rooted in a philosophy that they thoroughly understand and in which they deeply believe. They are, as they love to proclaim, proud feminists through and through. It just so happens that, in deference to the edicts of “intersectionality,” their ardent belief in sisterhood ends where brutal Islamic patriarchy, systematic gender oppression, and primitive “honor culture” begin.

In the same article, however, Bruce Bawer points out that this feminist belief is “not confined to Sweden”.

Last year, on the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, it was on full display in the United States at the Women’s March, where the new President was universally denounced as a personification of patriarchy, while Linda Sarsour, a woman in hijab and champion of Islamic law (sharia), became an overnight feminist heroine.

What is Sarsour promoting? Under sharia law, a woman is expected to be subservient and obedient. Her testimony in court is worth half that of a man, because she is “deficient in intelligence”. A daughter should be given an inheritance only half that of a son. A man is not only permitted  but encouraged to beat his wife if she is insufficiently obedient. A man may take “infidel” wives, but a woman may not wed outside the faith. A man may have up to four wives, but a woman can have only one husband. A man can divorce his wife simply by uttering a few words; a woman, if she wants a divorce, must subject herself to a drawn-out process at the end of which a group of men will rule on the matter. A man is entitled to have sex with his wife against her wishes and, under certain circumstances, other women as well. And that is just the beginning.

Sometimes, when one points out these rules, people will respond: “Well, the Bible says such-and-such.” The point is not that these things are written in Islamic scripture, but that [some 1.5 billion] people still live by them.

Sarsour was passionately applauded.

… That is “intersectional” feminism raised to the point of self-destruction.

The ardently feminist Huffington Post urged American women to don the hijab. About which, Pamela Geller wrote at Breitbart:

The Huffington Post published an article … entitled The Beautiful Reasons Why These Women Love Wearing A Hijab. …

The Huffington Post asked women from all over the Internet to show just how beautifully diverse the hijab can be using the hashtag #HijabToMe. This was followed by photo after photo of Muslimas in headwraps. How is that beautifully diverse? Their heads are all covered. They’re all subjugated. …

The real news angle regarding the hijab is not that women from different areas wear it. The real hijab news angle concerns the women and girls who suffer brutal beatings and are sometimes even killed because they dare to say out loud that they don’t want to wear it. It is women who don’t wear the cloth coffin, the ambulatory body bag (aka the burka) in Muslim countries under the sharia who are beaten, arrested and at times killed. Even in Western countries, girls such as Aqsa Parvez in Canada, Jessica Mokdad in Michigan, Noor Almalaki in Arizona have been honor murdered for not wearing hijab. Other girls such as Rifqa Bary have been beaten by their Muslim parents because they refused to wear Islamic garb.

This kind of thing happens around the world. Amina Muse Ali, a Somali Christian, was murdered because she wasn’t wearing a hijab. Forty women were murdered in Iraq in 2007 for not wearing the hijab. Alya Al-Safar’s Muslim cousin threatened to kill her and harm her family because she stopped wearing the hijab in Britain. Amira Osman Hamid faced whipping in Sudan for refusing to wear the hijab. An Egyptian girl, also named Amira, committed suicide after being brutalized for her family for refusing to wear the hijab. Muslim and non-Muslim teachers at the Islamic College of South Australia were told that they had to wear the hijab or be fired. Chechen women were shot with paintballs by police because they weren’t wearing hijab. Other women in Chechnya were threatened by men with automatic rifles for not wearing hijab. Elementary school teachers in Tunisia were threatened with death for not wearing hijab. Syrian schoolgirls were forbidden to go to school unless they wore hijab. Women in Gaza were forced by Hamas to wear hijab. Women in Iran protested against the regime by daring to take off their legally-required hijab. Women in London were threatened with death by Muslim thugs if they didn’t wear hijab.

And in Saudi Arabia, schoolgirls escaping from a building on fire were forced back to their deaths in the flames because they had emerged without the required Muslim covering of their heads.

The outraged protests of feminists all over the West were – not reported. Is it possible there weren’t any?

Our guess – there weren’t any.

L’Oréal, which manufactures products for enhancing the beauty of women’s hair, recently advertised their products with a picture of a woman with her hair completely covered by a hijab.

Someone protested. Could it possibly have been a feminist? Our guess – no.

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