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.

A tongue-lashing for Europe 24

The Leader of the Western World tells it as it is. (No orange juice for him, thank you – and no lame excuses either.)

After greeting “the media and the fake media”, President Trump addresses the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, and assembled Europeans:

“The United States protects these countries, protects Germany – and Germany is totally controlled by Russia.” Because it stupidly gets its energy from Russia. And though it is a rich country, it pays only 1% of its GDP for NATO defense.

True, but … Oh, but … diplomats are not used to candid speaking!

*

John Hinderaker writes at PowerLine:

Germany stupidly closed nuclear and coal power plants in favor of huge investments in “green” energy. Those investments, predictably, have failed to do anything other than drive the price of electricity unacceptably high. Germany is now backing away from its “green” policies in favor of natural gas. Where does it get most of its natural gas? From Russia. …

Trump’s second point, one that he made during the 2016 campaign and often since, is that our NATO allies need to begin bearing their fair share of the cost of the alliance. In the aftermath of World War II, when the U.S. had just about the only industrial economy that hadn’t been bombed, it made sense for the bulk of the money to come from U.S. taxpayers. That hasn’t been true for a long time, and Trump shouldn’t have to be the first president to assert the interests of American taxpayers. On this issue, too, he is right:

“Many countries owe us,” Trump said in Brussels, before attending the summit at NATO headquarters. “The United States is paying far too much and other countries are not paying enough… This has been going on for decades, for decades, it’s disproportionate and not fair to the taxpayers of the United States.” 

Trump is going to succeed here. A number of NATO countries have pledged to increase their defense contributions, but he is pressing them to act more rapidly. …

Trump is right about a more equal sharing of the costs of defending Europe and the North Atlantic. More importantly, he is right about the sheep-like quiescence of too many Western Europeans – Angela Merkel is one among many – in the face of a serious challenge from Russia.

Pretty much all the press coverage of the NATO summit, consisting mostly of hand-wringing and Trump-bashing, is ignorant and partisan. President Trump is standing up for American security and American taxpayers, as he promised to do. He could do it more effectively if pretty much the entire American establishment were not arrayed against him and, implicitly, on the side of the Putin regime. 

Posted under Germany, NATO, Russia, United States by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, July 11, 2018

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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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To kill a mocking president 3

Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee colluded with Russian “novelists” (fake news disseminators), who were accessed through a “freaky Brit spook”, in conspiracy with top law-enforcement officials in the intelligence services and Obama’s Department of Justice. 

John Nolte writes at Breitbart:

Here are 16 things the media do not want you to know about the Nunes memo:

  1. The so-called Russian Dossier, the creation of Fusion GPS and former British spy Christopher Steele, is a political document — namely, opposition research, created for the Democrat National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
  2. Using what it knew was opposition research paid for by the Clinton campaign, in October of 2016, the FBI and DOJ obtained a FISA warrant from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to install a wiretap to spy on Hillary Clinton’s opponent — the Trump campaign, specifically Carter Page. This spying would last for a year.
  3. It should be noted that the FISA court was set up to stop foreign terrorists. The fact that the FBI and DOJ would use this court to not only wiretap an American but to wiretap a presidential campaign defies  belief. Why Obama’s FBI and DOJ used this court as opposed to a normal court is obvious. As you will see below, a normal court probably would have denied the wiretap.
  4. Worse still, in the summer of 2016, Obama’s DOJ had already opened a counter-intelligence investigation into the Trump campaign. The fact that nothing from that months-old partisan investigation was used to obtain the Page wiretap is revealing.
  5. According to the Nunes memo, an “essential” part of the FISA wiretap application was the Steele dossier, which again is a partisan political document created for the Clinton campaign.
  6. So essential was this partisan dossier, Andrew McCabe, the disgraced former-Deputy Director of the FBI, admitted in December that “no surveillance warrant would have been sought” without the dossier.
  7. Not only did the FBI knowingly use a document from a partisan campaign to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on the competing campaign, the FBI knew the dossier was mostly “salacious and unverified”. We know this because disgraced former-FBI Director James Comey told us so in June of 2017.
  8. According to the Nunes memo, “Steele told [former FBI official Bruce] Ohr, he ‘was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.’”
  9. Ohr, who was part of the FBI’s anti-Trump Russian investigation, was not only friendly with Steele, Ohr’s own wife worked with Steele at Fusion GPS doing opposition research (the dossier) against Trump for the Clinton campaign.
  10. Despite a) knowing the dossier was opposition research paid for by the Clinton campaign b) knowing the dossier was “salacious and unverified” c) knowing Steele was desperate to destroy Trump d) the breathtaking conflict of interest in having an investigator’s own wife working on the dossier, the FBI still went to the FISA court to obtain permission to spy on Hillary Clinton’s opponent.
  11. In order to obtain a warrant to spy on the Trump campaign, all of the conflicts of interest above were withheld from the FISA court — an indefensible (and possibly illegal) lie of omission.
  12. Even worse, in order to legitimize a warrant request based on a piece of partisan opposition research they knew was “salacious and unverified,” the FBI and DOJ used a media report to bolster the findings in the phony dossier.* The FBI and DOJ told the court that the media report was independent verification of the dossier. But this was not true, and, according to the Nunes memo, the FBI and DOJ knew this was not true. The truth is that the phony dossier was the source of this media report.
  13. Also hidden from the FISA court was the fact that the FBI obtained Steele as a source but had to fire him in October of 2016 when, in a bid to use his phony dossier to derail the Trump campaign, he leaked his information to the far-left Mother Jones.
  14. Although the FBI and DOJ were willing participants in pushing a “salacious and unverified” narrative against a presidential candidate (primarily through media leaks), this was all hidden from congressional investigators. To begin with, for months, while under oath, Comey said he did not know where the dossier came from — meaning from the Clinton campaignThe Wall Street Journal explains:

We also know the FBI wasn’t straight with Congress, as it hid most of these facts from investigators in a briefing on the dossier in January 2017. The FBI did not tell Congress about Mr. Steele’s connection to the Clinton campaign, and the House had to issue subpoenas for Fusion bank records to discover the truth. Nor did the FBI tell investigators that it continued receiving information from Mr. Steele and Fusion even after it had terminated him. The memo says the bureau’s intermediary was Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, whose wife, incredibly, worked for Fusion.

– And whose areas of expertise include cybersecurity and the Russian language. (Is she a Russian agent?)

  1. All of this dishonesty occurred under Comey, the man our media now hold up as a living saint, a man so desperate to destroy Trump, he not only oversaw those committing the above abuses, he leaked classified information to the news media in order to see a Special Prosecutor appointed against Trump, which his pal, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, immediately did.

And finally…

  1. Much of the “salacious and unverified” material in the dossier came from the Russians. In other words, those disgusting dossier lies about Trump’s personal behavior came from Russian operatives. So there is no question that it was the Clinton campaign, Democrats, Steele, the FBI, and DOJ who colluded with the Russians to rig a presidential election.

Yes, there was collusion with the Russians, and those in our government currently investigating Trump in the hopes of overturning a presidential election are the colluders.

 

*As Mark Steyn puts it: “They did, however, argue that the dossier had been independently ‘corroborated’ by a September 2016 story in Yahoo News – even though that Yahoo story came from the same guy who authored the dossier: in effect, the Government got its surveillance warrant by arguing that its fake-news dossier from Christopher Steele had been independently corroborated by a fake-news story from Christopher Steele.  … The two choices here: either ‘the world’s premier law enforcement agency’ was manipulated by one freaky Brit spook, or ‘the world’s premier law enforcement agency’ conspired with the freaky Brit spook to manipulate the judge.”

Trump, Trumpism, and THEM 2

It’s altogether too much for THEM to bear! The man is a billionaire who loves life, lives well, and enjoys himself tremendously both at work and at play; has a wife who is one of the most beautiful women in the world, and is also graceful, gentle, intelligent and competent; has handsome successful children and bright charming grandchildren; and, on top of all that, has become the most powerful man in the world. To add a final insult to THEM, he is perfectly healthy at the age 0f 71; immensely energetic and strong; and fully capable of continuing to do what he wants to do.

And then, try as THEY might to find something he has done terribly wrong to blot his intolerably immaculate escutcheon, THEY cannot find anything!

Actually, it is even worse for THEM. Far worse. Because not only is he victorious, THEY are defeated. Probably (with luck) irrecoverably. He has risen to power at a moment when THEY had  almost conquered the world; almost made it poor; almost brought the nations – possibly even including the USA – into universal homogeneity at the lowest level of subsistence in subjection to THEM running a world communist government (in order to “save the planet” from people using cars and making things in factories); almost destroyed Western civilization.

We are enthusiasts for Trumpism because we are warriors against THEM.

As such, do we exaggerate his achievements? If so, by how much? Overlook his flaws? If so, what are they?

As a corrective to our possibly overindulgent judgment of the president, we reproduce an article by Victor Davis Hanson; surely a reasonable and fair assessment of the Trump presidency thus far and prospectively. It is also necessary to know that it appeared at the mostly, persistently, and emphatically anti-Trump National Review:

As President Trump finished his first full year in office, he could look back at an impressive record of achievement of a kind rarely attained by an incoming president — much less by one who arrived in office as a private-sector billionaire without either prior political office or military service.

As unintended proof of his accomplishments, Trump’s many liberal opponents have gone from initially declaring him an incompetent to warning that he has become effective — insanely so — in overturning the Obama progressive agenda. Never Trump Republicans acknowledge that Trump has realized much of what they once only dreamed of — from tax reform and deregulation to a government about-face on climate change, the ending of the Obamacare individual mandate, and expansion of energy production.

Trump so far has not enacted the Never Trump nightmare agenda. The U.S. is not leaving NATO. It is not colluding with Vladimir Putin, but maintaining sanctions against Russia and arming Ukrainians. It is not starting a tariff war with China. The administration is not appointing either liberals or incompetents to the federal courts. A politicized FBI, DOJ, and IRS was Obama’s legacy, not Trump’s doing, as some of the Never Trump circle predicted. Indeed, the Never Trump movement is now mostly calcified, as even some of its formerly staunch adherents concede. It was done in by the Trump record and the monotony of having to redefine a once-welcomed conservative agenda as suddenly unpalatable due to Trump’s crude fingerprints on it.

On the short side, Trump has still not started to build his much-promised border wall, to insist on free but far fairer trade with Asia and Europe, or to enact an infrastructure-rebuilding program. Nonetheless, Trump’s multitude of critics is unable to argue that his record is shoddy and must instead insist that his list of achievements is due mostly to the Republican Congress. Or they claim he is beholden to the legacy of the Obama administration. Or they insist that credit belongs with his own impressive economic and national-security cabinet-level appointments. Or that whatever good came of Trump’s first year is nullified by Trump’s persistent personal odiousness.

At the conclusion of Trump’s first year, the stock market and small-business confidence are at record highs, and consumer confidence has not been higher in 17 years. Trump’s loud campaign promises to lure back capital and industry to the heartland no longer look quixotic, given new tax and deregulatory incentives and far cheaper energy costs than in most of Europe and Japan. Trump has now ended 66 regulations for every one he has added. Few believed a Republican president could cut the corporate-tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent while capping state- and local-tax deductions for mostly high earners to $10,000. Those are the highlights of a comprehensive tax-reform and -reduction agenda that will likely accelerate the economy to an even more rapid growth rate than Trump’s first two full quarters of annualized increases in GDP of more than 3 percent. Dozens of large companies are already passing along some of their anticipated tax cuts to employees through increased wages or bonuses — dismissed as “crumbs” by House minority leader Nancy Pelosi. Rising workers’ wages and anticipated tax credits and savings for the lower and middle classes for now are rendering almost mute the age-old fights about state-mandated minimum-wage laws.

The mostly unheralded nixing of the Obamacare individual mandate — once the great ideological battlefield of the Affordable Care Act — will insidiously recalibrate the ACA into a mostly private-market enterprise.

Domestic oil production is slated to exceed 2017 record levels and soon may hit an astonishing 11 million barrels a day. “Peak oil” for now is an ossified idea, as are massive wind and solar Solyndra-like government subsidies and the mostly unworkable Paris Climate Accord. Gas, oil, and coal production are expected to rise even higher with new Trump initiatives to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge field in Alaska, encourage more fracking on federal lands and offshore, and complete needed pipeline links while encouraging coal exportation.

For all the political horse-trading over extending or ending the Obama executive orders on DACA, illegal immigration has declined according to some metrics by over 60 percent. It is now at the lowest levels in the 21st century — even before the ending of chain migration and enacting of new border-security initiatives. Abroad, the ISIS caliphate is for all purposes now extinct. Its demise is in part due to Trump’s outsourcing of the conflict to Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who liberated ground commanders from Obama-administration-era legalistic rules of engagement. Trump’s appointees, such as Mattis, National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, have worked in concert to restore U.S. deterrence.

Variously called “principled realism” or a new “Jacksonianism”,  the Trump doctrine has now replaced the “strategic patience” and “lead from behind” recessionals of the prior administration and not emulated the neoconservative nation-building of the George W. Bush administration. New pressures on nuclear North Korea have prompted the toughest U.N. trade sanctions in history on the rogue state. After Trump’s fiery and erratic rhetoric and muscular displays of U.S. naval and air power in the Pacific, Pyongyang has agreed to landmark talks with Seoul. China is slowly beginning to pressure North Korea to stop launching missiles. Beijing’s Asian neighbors are beefing up missile defense and growing closer to the U.S. For now, the bad cop Trump and the good cops Mattis and McMaster have encouraged friends and frightened enemies, although the shelf life of such diplomatic gymnastics is limited.

Trump almost immediately voiced support for mass demonstrations in Iran, in a manner Obama failed to do in 2009. An ironic fallout of the disastrous 2015 Iran deal may be that the theocracy so hyped its cash windfalls from American relaxation of embargoes and sanctions that it inadvertently raised Iranians’ expectations of a rise in the standard of living. Then it dashed just those hopes by squandering hundreds of millions of newfound dollars in subsidizing Hezbollah, conducting a costly expeditionary war to save the genocidal Bashar al-Assad regime, and likely continuing an exorbitantly costly nuclear-weapons program. What is different about Iran’s internal unrest this time around is twofold. The Trump administration is not invested in any “landmark” deal with Tehran that requires ignoring protesters in the street. Trump also does not envision revolutionary and terror-sponsoring Iran as a “very successful regional power” with “legitimate defense concerns”. Rather, he sees Tehran, along with ISIS and al-Qaeda, as the chief source of Middle East unrest and anti-Americanism.

Moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, in line with past congressional mandates, along with threatening to curtail Palestinian aid, only reifies what is now widely accepted. The new Middle East is not the old. There are no longer any ongoing and viable “peace plans”, “road maps”, or “summits”.  America is becoming energy-independent and immune to oil boycotts. There are new and greater threats than Israel to Arab regimes, from nuclear Iran to the scourge of Islamic terrorism in Iraq and Syria. Patience is wearing thin as after 30 years the Palestinians still cannot create transparent and consensual government. Seventy years after the birth of Israel, the Palestinians still insist on being called “refugees” — when most of the world’s millions of displaced persons decades ago moved on.

Yet as Trump heads into the 2018 midterms, his favorability ratings are unimpressive. Because of loud Democratic threats of using impeachment proceedings to undermine the Trump project, the 2018 fight for the House is taking on historic importance. It is not just a referendum on the Trump agenda, but likely a means to seek to discredit or remove Trump himself — even if the prosecution in the Senate would likely never find the necessary 67 votes. In sum, an embattled Trump now finds himself in a war on all fronts. The first and most important conflict is one of favorability. Trump’s actual approval ratings, as in 2016, are probably somewhat higher than the low 40s reported in many polls. But Trump’s image is still astonishingly dismal in relation to his unappreciated achievements. For congressional Republicans to survive the midterms and retain majorities, Trump perhaps has to hope that the economy will grow not just at 3 percent but even more robustly — with marked rises in workers’ take-home wages due to tax cuts and labor shortages. Is it really true that politics can be reduced to “It’s the economy, stupid”? Obama failed to achieve 3 percent growth per annum over his eight years. As a result he may have lost both houses of Congress, but he also was reelected. More likely, no one quite knows the exact political consequences of economic growth. Between November 1983 and November 1984, the economy grew at 7 percent and ipso facto ushered the once “amiable dunce” Ronald Reagan into a landslide reelection victory over a previously thought-to-be-far-more-impressive Walter Mondale. Yet this time it may be that 3 percent GDP growth will not mitigate Trump’s personal negatives but 4–5 percent would.

It is said that Trump is also at war with himself, in the sense that his tweeting alienates the key constituencies of women voters and independents. Conventional wisdom assures that Trump’s off-the-cuff invectives only fuel his critics and overshadow his achievements. In the heart of immigration negotiations, Trump was quoted secondhand as having called Haiti and other formerly Third World countries “sh**hole” countries and thus undesirable sources of mass immigration to the U.S. Whatever the reliability of reports of the slur, Trump is certainly not the sort of politician to have said instead, “It would seem wiser to encourage diverse immigration, including immigration from the most developed countries as well as the least developed” — even as many people privately agree with Trump’s earthy assessment that immigration should be far more selective and include a far greater variety of countries of origin.

Both Trump’s spoken and electronic stream-of-consciousness venting can be unorthodox, crude and cruel, and often extraneous. But can anyone measure whether and to what degree his Twitter account energizes and widens his base more than it loses him supporters otherwise sympathetic to his agenda? The orthodox wisdom is that Trump should let his achievements speak for themselves, curb his raucous campaign rallies, and restrict his daily tweets to expansions on his agenda and achievement and leave the feuding to subordinates. When Trump has avoided ad hominem spats, and been filmed conducting policy sessions with his cabinet and congressional enemies and friends, he has looked and acted “presidential”.  How good then must Trump’s record become to overshadow both the prejudices against him and his own inner demons to achieve favorability ratings that will provide coattails for his congressional supporters and fuel an even more ambitious second-year agenda? Again, time is running out, and in the next ten months the economy must boom as never before or Trump must learn to sound more like a Ronald Reagan than a Howard Stern.

Trump is simultaneously at war with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Once again, the critical element is time in the sense of the looming midterm elections. So far, after months of media speculation and press leaks, there is no evidence of Russian–Trump collusion. Robert Mueller’s investigative team has been riddled by charges of conflicts of interest, workplace unprofessionalism, and political bias. The basis of the entire writ against Trump, the Fusion GPS–Steele dossier, is now mostly discredited. The file’s lurid sexual accusations alone likely won it notoriety in 2016 among journalists and Obama-administration enablers. The more that is learned about the Steele opposition-research file — paid for by the Clinton campaign, polluted by Russian rumor-mongering, peddled to the FBI, manipulated by the Obama administration to justify FISA surveillance, likely leaked to pet reporters by Obama-administration and Clinton-campaign officials — the more apparent it may become that Mueller is investigating Russian collusion in entirely the wrong place. Another irony is that pushback against the Mueller fishing expedition may prompt reinvestigations into the earlier election-cycle-aborted inquiries about Clinton email improprieties. The Obama administration also likely acted improperly in ignoring the Clinton–Uranium One connections and Hillary Clinton’s violations of agreements with the Obama administration to report the sources of all private donations to the Clinton Foundation during her tenure. So far resistance at both the Department of Justice and the FBI to releasing documents pertaining to all these avenues of interest has stymied House and Senate inquiries. If the Republicans lose the Congress, these investigations will shut down entirely. Democratic majorities will give Mueller a free hand to do as he pleases without worries about past complaints over the ethical shortcomings of his investigation. Select Intelligence and Judiciary Committee hearings will likely give way in the House to impeachment proceedings. But if within the next nine months there are new explosive revelations about the improper or even illegal uses of the Steele dossier and the Clinton scandals, while the Mueller team settles for face-saving indictments of former Trump subordinates for transgressions that have little to do with the original Mueller mandate to investigate Russian–Trump collusion, then Trump will win the legal war. In that case, Trump finally will not only weather the collusion crisis but find himself a political beneficiary of one of the most scandalous efforts to subvert a political campaign and improperly surveil American citizens in recent American history.

Trump wages a fourth war against the proverbial mainstream media, whose coverage, according to disinterested analyses, runs over 90 percent anti-Trump. Negative Trump news fuels Trump-assassination chic in popular culture, the rants of late-night-television comedians, the political effort to grandstand with impeachment writs, calls to invoke the 25th Amendment, and lawsuits alleging violations of the emoluments clause. The threats of a Madonna, the raving of Representative Maxine Waters, the boasts of the “Resistance,” the efforts of blue states to nullify federal immigration law or to dodge compliance with unwelcome new federal tax statutes, and the conspiracy fables of Representative Adam Schiff are all fueled by media attention and preconceived narratives hostile to Trump. The anti-Trump news is still determined to accomplish what so far the Clinton campaign, Obama holdovers, and deep-state bureaucrats have not: so discredit Trump the messenger that his message becomes irrelevant. Trump apparently fights his war against the media in the fashion in which toxic chemotherapy battles cancer. His personal and electronic rants against “fake news” and “crooked” journalists are intended to exhibit media biases and thus discredit negative coverage just before the public tires of Trump’s own off-putting venom. On the one hand, Trump’s anemic approval ratings might suggest the media are winning in their 24/7 efforts to portray Trump as a Russian colluder, rank profiteer, distracted golfer, tax cheat, sexual predator, trigger-happy warmonger, or senile septuagenarian. On the other hand, the media are polling worse than Trump. And his battle has nearly destroyed the credibility of CNN, which has fired marquee journalists for false anti-Trump narratives, been embarrassed by hosts mouthing scatological venom, suffered employees’ hot-mic wishes for Trump’s death, and seen its anchors and special correspondents reduced to on-air rants. For now, no one knows whether Trump’s war against the media is pyrrhic, in that he may defeat his journalist enemies and even render their entire networks discredited, but at such costs that he is no longer politically viable.

Trump is waging a fifth and final war against Democrats. So far Trump has sucked all the oxygen out of the Democratic atmosphere. Politicians and operatives are so obsessed with proving Trump a liar, a cheat, a pervert, a con artist, or an incompetent that they have offered so far no viable opposition leader or alternative agenda. But will just being not-Trump make Democrats preferable? The centrist Democratic party of the 1990s no longer exists. It has become instead a coalition of patched-together progressive causes. The redistributionism and neo-socialism of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are now Democratic economic mainstays. Barack Obama’s lead-from-behind legacy remains Democratic foreign policy. Identity politics still constitutes the culture of the party establishment.

In more practical terms, for all the animus against Trump the person, his agenda — tax cuts, deterrence, reindustrialization, middle-class job growth, closing the borders, the melting pot — is increasingly polling well. In many cases, Trumpism is more popular than Democratic signature issues such as tax hikes, larger government, more entitlements, open borders, more identity politics, and European Union–like internationalism.

The idea of Oprah Winfrey as the 2020 Democratic nominee and the unwillingness of Democrats to secure the border reveal what can happen when a party is reduced to defining itself as not being the incumbent president. The Republicans learned that lesson in their four-time failure to defeat the hated Roosevelt. Democrats in the 1980s had little to offer the country other than not being the supposed buffoon Ronald Reagan. Shutting down the government is also rarely a winning strategy for an out party — as the Republicans learned in their politically disastrous 1995–96 showdown with Bill Clinton. In 2018, it may be enough for congressional candidates to run on anti-Trump invective without expressing strong views on the issues or identifying with any particular national leader. But it won’t be so in 2020, especially if the Trump agenda grows more popular and Trump allows it rather than himself to become his signature message.

For now, all that is certain about Trump’s first year is the 2016 truism that past prognostications and current polls are irrelevant. The jester candidate, Donald Trump, destroyed, not just beat, his 16 primary rivals. The doomed candidate Trump defeated the most well-financed, experienced, and media-favored Democratic candidate in memory. The inept President Trump’s first year was not liberal or directionless, but marked the most successful and conservative governance since Ronald Reagan’s. Trump’s critics insist that his comeuppance is on the horizon. They assure us that character is destiny. Trump’s supposed hubris will finally earn an appropriately occasioned nemesis. But in the meantime, nearly half the country may be happy that the establishment was not just wrong but nearly discredited in its non-ending, prejudicial dismissal of the Trump agenda and, so far, the successful Trump presidency.

So: HOWL globalists, socialists, warmists, feminists, Muslims, and Democrats.

He is impervious to your insults.

He is charitable and generous. Yes, he is.

He is not a “racist” or “anti-woman”. Certainly not.

He does not take drugs, drink alcohol – or even coffee.

He has not colluded with the Russians, or any other foreign power. (Obama did with the Russians and the Iranians. Hillary Clinton did with anyone who would pay her.)

He flourishes, he laughs, he acts, he wins.

War is coming 5

Soon there will be war with North Korea. Unless its dictator has a sudden change of mind and voluntarily gives up his nuclear warheads and the ballistic missiles that can deliver them, they will need to be taken from him by force. The likelihood of the change of mind is very small. So the chance of war is very high.

In the war, a lot of people will die. They will probably be mostly North Koreans. There could be many deaths among South Koreans. There may be deaths of civilians in the United States.

Why is China rushing troops to its border with North Korea? It’s a reasonable speculation that they will shoot down radioactive North Koreans attempting to flee nuclear attack. China is not likely to risk war with the United States over North Korea. Nor is Russia.

The Daily Star reports:

People’s Liberation Army (PLA) forces are said to have been moving by night towards China’s river border with the North.

And Chinese commanders are reported to have recently conducted the so-called “war ceremony” – urging their troops to be ready to fight.

Columns of PLA trucks have been pictured on the move near Yanji City which is close to the triple border between China, Russia and North Korea.

Wars fears have spilled over into the New Year as Kim Jong-un warned the “nuclear button” is on his desk .

China is North Korea’s only traditional ally and has been coming under pressure to tackle Kim Jong-un from the US.

Sources cited in Chinese media claimed the PLA are “preparing for war on the Korean Peninsula” .

China would be expected to use its military forces to help quell a flood of refugees should the US attack North Korea.

There will be deaths among the US military. But that is what soldiers always face. An army exists to kill, and every soldier in it risks being killed. There is no point in pretending otherwise.

Obama tried to turn the army into a social service. That was a huge waste of tax-payers’ money.

If members of the Libertarian Party, or the Green Party, or the Bernie Sanders musty movement, or some pacifist church, or the Leftist media, or the deep state, or the Democratic Party don’t want war to happen – what is their alternative?

The army will fight, as it did in World War II. It will fight to win under the command of President Trump and General Mattis.

And the war will be fought by men. Not by women, or transgenders, or pacifists, or  Communists, or snowflakes, or social justice warriors, or professors, or lawyers, or play-play “resisters” like the Antifa thugs.

Men will fight it, men will kill in it, men will win it, and men will die in it.

And a rogue nation will be deprived of the power to do far greater damage and kill far more people.

Posted under China, North Korea, Russia, United States, War by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, January 3, 2018

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The biggest scandal in American history 1

If the Clintons and their multitudinous gang in the “deep state”  are guilty of the dark crimes it seems they are, what would be the just punishment for them?

There is no precedent in American history for such crimes; none for so wide and deep and conscienceless a conspiracy to undermine the constitutional processes of the Republic.

They amount to treason, but not treason as defined by US law. (Article III of the Constitution defines treason as levying war against the United States, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid or comfort.) For clear cases of treason, even if they do not come within the legal definition of the crime, capital punishment alone may be  the right retribution. The Rosenbergs, who gave US nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union, were found guilty of committing espionage, and were electrocuted to death. For the deep corruption of the intelligence services of the United States – for that alone – such a punishment would not be too extreme.

Failing the death penalty, how long would prison sentences have to be? How many “life” terms, served sequentially?

Or will they all get away completely with their crimes, every last one of the guilty men and women?

If they do, what will the rule of law mean in the USA? Nothing. Because it will have turned out that some people are above the law.

John Hinderaker writes at PowerLine:

It may be that Russians penetrated the DNC/Podesta email accounts, but the reports don’t prove that fact. More important, they contain nothing beyond bare assertion to support the implausible claim that Putin wanted Trump, rather than Hillary “Reset Button” Clinton, to win the election. Washington insiders say that the intelligence agencies have provided some evidence that Russia was behind the spearfishing of both the DNC and RNC accounts, but no evidence that Russia’s goal was to try to secure the election for Trump. On the contrary, there is little doubt that Russia’s agents in the U.S., relying on the Washington Post, the New York Times, etc., were reporting that Clinton had the election in the bag.

The FBI/CIA/NSA reports supplied an important link in the Democrats’ anti-Trump strategy. They implied that Trump’s alleged collusion with the Putin regime bore fruit: the Russians wanted Trump to win, they “meddled” in the election to achieve that purpose, and sure enough, he won the election. The intelligence community’s reports went a long way toward delegitimizing the Trump administration before it even came into being.

It now appears clear that this entire story was a fraud. There was no collusion; not by Trump, anyway. The collusion was all on the other side, and it looks to me as though the CIA’s and NSA’s politicized leaders were part of it. Who was the Director of the CIA when these reports were prepared and handed to the press? John Brennan

Who was the Director of National Intelligence? The clueless and virulently anti-Trump James Clapper, who just a few days ago called President Trump an “asset” of Russia …

You could say these people are crazy, but a few short months ago they were in charge of the U.S. intelligence community. It seems clear that by the end of 2016 they were collaborating in the DNC/Clinton campaign/Steele/Fusion GPS/FBI/Russia effort to undermine the incoming Trump administration. An obvious question is, how far back did cooperation by CIA and NSA go? Did those agencies corruptly collaborate with Obama’s DOJ in spying on Trump and his associates during the campaign?

Based on what we already know, the DNC/Clinton campaign/Steele/Fusion GPS/Russia/FBI collusion looks like the biggest scandal in American political history. To the extent that the CIA and NSA were also involved, it can only get worse.

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