For we have deprived him of his great dream to join, and perhaps even lead, the ranks of the world’s most important leaders. Today, following the attack on the Syrian air base, Putin is just one more dictator.
During the Obama years, the Russian tyrant had grown accustomed to getting his way most everywhere. Invade Crimea? Fine. Grab slices of eastern Ukraine? No problem. Open military bases in Syria and Libya? You bet. We wouldn’t challenge him.
That has all changed with Trump. For when America moves decisively, the whole world changes. Thus, all those pundits who belittled the Tomahawk attack on Syria or the MOABing of ISIS have missed a very important point.
Over the past eight years, Russia’s effective power in the world had grown far beyond its real power. That has now changed, and you can expect our actual and would-be allies, and our global enemies, to change their recent tunes.
The Trump administration’s national security policy was to have been much more muscular than Obama’s, as incarnate in the appointments of notoriously tough military leaders at the National Security Council (first General Flynn, then General McMaster) and the Department of Defense (General Mattis).
So far at least, this has not happened; the enemy coalition has been more active, starting with North Korea, and continuing with China, Russia, and Iran. Regarding the latter, it’s been nothing more than the usual sanctions.
At the same time, we are dispatching fighters—mostly Marines, it seems-- to Syria, in the anti-ISIS campaign, and we are still fighting alongside Iran forces in Iraq.
So what’s our policy? It’s a surprisingly difficult question to answer.
The great Ayatollah Hossein Boroujerdi is briefly out of Tehran's infamous Evin prison, where he had been held in miserable conditions for a decade.
He is one of those dissidents who are so beloved by the Iranian people that the murderous regime of Ali Khamenei does not dare to put them to death, or even on trial. They routinely torture them instead, and deny them medication for their grave ailments, hoping that they will die of “natural causes.”
When regime security forces went to arrest him, thousands of his supporters protested, blocking miles of highway. Khamenei, Rouhani et. al. still fear those people, ten years later.
He’s out on parole, but don’t think the regime is showing mercy. They typically release prisoners for a few weeks at a time—that way everyone sees the miserable state to which they have been reduced—and then drag them back.
There is something President-elect Trump can do right now.
Donald Trump should invite Ayatollah Boroujerdi to the inauguration.
Such a dramatic move would deliver several important messages:
As I promised, as the days of Obama draw down, the jihadis are stepping up the terror tempo.
They know that there will be no reprisals from the Oahu links, and they fear Trump’s lineup of tough guys in the cabinet, so they’re in a hurry to kill infidels while the killing’s good. Therefore we, along with the other Western nations, are at maximum risk right now, until roundabouts January 20th.
And the killing’s plenty good, isn’t it? Berlin, Zurich, Ankara, Moscow, with a very nasty plot uncovered in Melbourne, and yet another involving terrorists in Detroit, Maryland, and Virginia. Not to mention the ongoing slaughter in Syria, and, on Christmas day, Cameroon.
Indeed, as Christmas arrived we were treated to the spectacle of the bishop of Rome—aka Pope Francis--blaming material misery for the jihadist assault on the West. Thus the first Jesuit pontiff surrenders the moral high ground to his mortal enemies.
Maybe Obama should convert and run for pope.
If I were Putin, I’d prefer Hillary. Bigtime.
Putin’s got a lot going with Hillary. His pals donated more than a hundred million dollars to the Clinton Family Foundation while she was secretary of state, and they gained ownership of twenty percent of America’s uranium supply.
If Putin were really trying to elect Trump, he’d be leaking the details of that relationship.
Plus, if I were Putin and really wanted Hillary elected, I’d be inclined to openly endorse Trump, on the theory that most U.S. voters would reason “if Putin likes the guy, we’re better off without him.”
You’ve undoubtedly been asking yourself the same question, so I’m going to give you the answers. Answers, plural, because hardly anything happens for a simple reason, especially in a country as tricky and complicated as Italy. So there are several reasons.
First, Italian intelligence, especially domestic intelligence, is a lot better than you might imagine. They are exceptionally good snoopers, since the state knows that the citizens don’t much like the powers-that-be, and so the agents of the state are forever peeking and listening.
Keep in mind that the Italian word for “privacy” is “privacy.” They lifted ours because the concept isn’t in the native language. Wittgenstein, along with Bill Clinton, will tell you if there is no word for it, it doesn’t exist.
Then there are the mafias – especially the big three based in Sicily, Calabria, and Naples.
It’s not a religious war, according to His Holiness. Economic, yes. Political, sure. But not religious, because religious people want peace. “It’s not right to identify Islam with terrorism.” That’s what he said to journalists on his plane to Auschwitz. Really.
Pope Francis is very ecumenical, you see. And he remembers what happened to his predecessor when Benedict accurately analyzed the differences between Christianity and Islam. You remember, don’t you?
He was pilloried by the politically correct crowd. The Church intelligentsia backed away from the Pope, launched a campaign of ecumenism with the Moslem world, and that was pretty much that.
So we shouldn’t be surprised when Pope Francis says that while the world is at war, it certainly isn’t a religious war. This just a few days after an elderly Catholic priest was murdered in his church in France, by radical Moslems who were careful to stage it in such a way as to dramatize its religious basis.
As I have been saying for quite a while, the terrorists are in a hurry. They know that their free run at their enemies will not last much longer, and so they are eager to grab whatever they can as fast as they can. They expect things will get tougher when the next president takes over in January.
For the moment they expect the Obama administration to make nice to Iran and Russia, Cuba and China, and the other members of the global alliance arrayed against us.
Ergo Nice. And Baton Rouge. And Milwaukee.
There will be more, and I will be surprised if there are not more attacks here in the United States. We are still not fighting to win the war. We are on defense, which is a sucker’s game.
As General Flynn and I wrote in our book “The Field of Fight,” you can’t devise a winning strategy if you can’t define your enemy and his mission. We can’t, because the censors forbid it.
The excuse given for sacking chief of staff General Firouzabadi is that he’s obese, but he’s been fat for quite a while, and his successor—his deputy Mohammed Baqeri—doesn’t have much battlefield experience.
The redoubtable Amir Taheri tweets that the new chief of staff is an intelligence professional, not a warrior. (He’s very slim, by the way). And he’s got lots of experience in business, where the Revolutionary Guards have done a lot better than in Syrian fights against ISIS and anti-Assad forces.
Aside from Firouzabadi, the biggest loser in this shakeup is the celebrated General Suleimani, easily the most recognizable face among the Revolutionary Guards.
Suleimani was a selfie star for years, and was even considered a possible successor to the supreme leader by some of the Tehranologists. That surge of popular stardom has ended.
Meanwhile, hatred of the Islamic Republic is rampant across the Iraqi border. A couple of weeks ago, a quarter million Iraqi Shi’ites demonstrated in Baghdad chanting “Down with Iran, down with Suleimani!”
Like millions of avid news readers, I’ve been trying to sort out the Hillary Clinton scandals. You know, all that stuff about classified material on her “private” server, sensitive national security secrets that have most likely been lifted by hostiles.
I think we’ve lost track of the central question: Why was she so eager to conceal her communications from Congress and the American public?
Most of the commentary goes something like “because she wanted to evade discovery.” She dreaded all the FOIAs. But that only leads to the question another time: What did she want to hide, and why?
Most of her policy decisions would be recorded elsewhere, and could be discovered. Indeed, policy cables, memos and emails are excellent tools for deception and she could have used them for that purpose (Henry Kissinger advised me a long time ago that the only reason for writing a memo was to have it leaked, and he played that game brilliantly).
What if the concealment had to do with non-policy matters? Or with policy issues linked to something else? Money, for example. Not U.S. government money, but private money that would enrich the Clintons themselves?
It’s not hard to see why the discussion of Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes’ exchanges with the New York Times – The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign Policy Guru – has received so much attention from the chattering class. A lot of it is all about them, after all, and we all love to talk about ourselves.
By now, we’ve all heard the insults to the D.C. press corps (they’re 27 years old and don’t know anything about anything) and the self-satisfied account about how Rhodes and his colleagues, including Obama himself, deceived America about the Iran deal.
The deception hasn’t stopped, however, nor does it go away because Obama and Rhodes have given us a new account of the Iran deal.
For now we discover that negotiations with Iran started even before Obama was inaugurated, and had nothing to do with events over there. It was Obama’s initiative, and it’s the key to his foreign policy.
Well, at least he wants to call "radical Islam" by its name. I’ll give him that. But then there’s that silly, misleading bit about how we Americans love it when former enemies become friends.
Most of the time this is said with regards to Germany and Japan, our leading enemies in the Second World War that are now close allies. If you put it that way it’s just a happy story, and it fits with Trump’s theme of making ours the happiest times … ever.
But it so drastically oversimplifies the subject that it’s worrisome, because he suggests that our current unpleasantness with Russia and China can be transformed if we sit down and make a deal. You know, the sort he claims he’s so fabulous at making.
The enemies-to-friends/allies story about Germany and Japan came about only after we destroyed them in a world war, not because FDR and Truman struck wonderful deals with them.
Enmity is like that. Trump’s dealmaking theory of making friends out of enemies has, in fact, just been tested by Barack Obama, and it hasn’t worked out very well.
Angela Merkel took a shellacking in German regional elections earlier this month (3/13), but she’s not about to get tougher on immigration, which is what provoked her bad results. She’s sticking with her open-door policy, even though it isn’t working very well.
It is a typical feel-good policy that ignores reality: Merkel, and lots of other German leaders, want to prove that they are fine humanitarians, not the descendants of the Fuhrer. And so they “welcome” hundreds of thousands of refugees and are trying to turn them into good Europeans.
It’s a self-hating vision with an explicitly destructive purpose – a vision and purpose she shares with Barrack Obama. Here’s the reason why they share it.
In his unfortunate “robot” debate in New Hampshire, Marco Rubio raised the great mystery about the Obama presidency:
Are the many catastrophes of the past seven years the results of incompetence, or, as Rubio insisted, does the president know “exactly what he’s doing?”
Right now, there is a solid consensus that Obama is out of his depth, a consensus you can easily see in the stock market, in the big votes for “socialism” a la Bernie Sanders, from European allies (notably France) and from enemies like Iran, where the regime reenacted the capture of American sailors, quite literally a dramatic demonstration of Iran’s contempt for the United States.
So is it idiocy or, as Rubio claims, the systematic, perhaps even brilliant, implementation of a well elaborated world view?
I don’t think we will know the answer for sure until the Obama archives become public. That is, IF they become public. Remember we still do not have his college transcripts! Still…
It’s always a challenge to check on information having to do with Iran, and the latest round of rumors and this information has confirmed the rule.
There were stories that the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, had been rushed to the hospital, while the other major figure in the regime, General Qassem Suleimani, had recovered from his battlefield injuries and had met with his co-conspirator Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
Wrong, wrong, and wrong again. Khamenei’s health is awful, but no worse than usual. General Suleimani, on the other hand, remains hospitalized. He’s had at least one big transfusion, and his prognosis is not great.
Meanwhile, the Iranians have appointed a new commander for the Syrian theater, where their casualties continue to be high.
Who’s winning the Middle East war? It’s never an easy question to answer, even for the most skilled and informed analysts. Things rarely, very rarely, go the way we expect. Hence “the fog of war.”
The most famous case of a military commander who got it right is Napoleon at Austerlitz, when he seems to have told his men precisely how the battle would go, hour by hour and move by move. It so impressed Hegel that he proclaimed the French general a “world-historical figure.”
Waterloo didn’t follow that template, thereby making my point. It behooves us to maintain a healthy skepticism about likely outcomes.
If you had to bet, you’d probably wager that Putin and Khamenei are solid favorites in Syria. Yet shoring up Assad, which is the Iranian-Russian mission, is no easy task. Russian and Iranian casualties are mounting and in some key areas they are in retreat from “rebels.” Consider this current battlefield report:
Do you remember the Axis of Evil?
It was one of the major themes of President George W. Bush’s State of the Union speech in January 2002, 4 months after the 9/11 terrorist attack on the United States. The president identified Iran, Iraq and North Korea as an “axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world.”
W was roundly criticized for the phrase. Yet Bush saw that all three countries were enemies of ours, were dedicated to developing weapons of mass destruction, and were willing to cooperate in order to expand their power and threaten the peace of the world.
We now face a more potent Axis of Evil. There is no single ideology that unites them – except their hatred of the West. The new Axis includes Sunni and Shi’ite radical Muslims, Communists and other radical leftists, and nationalistic secular tyrants like Vladimir Putin.
They have certainly succeeded in wrecking hopes for a peaceful world. How are we to cope with this?
The global Anti-American Alliance is now on full display in the Middle East, with Iran at the lynch point.
The headlines have told us about the coordination of Iranian/Iraqi/Syrian/Russian/Chinese activities, and of course there is a division of labor. That was all worked out in recent weeks in a series of Iranian visits to Moscow (General Suleimani, who commands the Revolutionary Guards’ foreign ops, twice traveled to Russia in open defiance of existing sanctions).
Basically, the Russians are sending some crack troops and their favorite heavy weapons (tanks, big guns). It goes via an Iranian air bridge and thence across Iraq to Syria. The Revolutionary Guards’ air force has 115 trained pilots ready to go, and they’ve trained 3000 Afghan fighters for ground battles. The Afghans get Iranian residence and a stipend. In addition there are 740 Pakistani Shi’ites in Suleimani’s special forces.
It’s a start, anyway.
Can’t anybody around here play this war game?
Russia is sending troops into Syria, alongside the Iranian forces that have been fighting long since, to shore up the Assad regime.
We know that Iran organized a scheme to blow up a restaurant in Washington, another to bomb a passenger train between Canada and the U.S., and yet another to destroy Kennedy Airport.
They are all acts of war. Yet, the president and his followers insist that if there is no deal with Iran, “the only alternative is war.”
You’d think a blind man could see that the war was on, but no. War is instead described – by the Democrats – as A Very Bad Thing that only would happen if Congress didn’t follow President Obama’s orders.
Meanwhile, opponents of The Deal insist that war is actually more likely if we approve all the concessions granted the Iranians at Vienna. They, too, fail to see the war already ongoing in front of their noses, and engage in the heated debate over a fantasy.
Congress is back, and we will now have round one of the fight over the Iran deal. The White House having organized enough votes to block an override of the anticipated presidential veto, there are now multiple schemes to kill the deal anyway. Maybe some of the Democrats who have promised to vote with Obama will change their minds in the face of mounting public opposition. Maybe the Corker-Cardin law contains the seeds of its own distruction, and, surprise, surprise, can actually be used to force the Senate to treat the deal as a treaty rather than an executive agreement. I will confess that I can’t keep up with all the fine print, and anyway the central issue – Iran policy – is not going to be debated, at least for now.
The central issue is the war waged against us by Tehran and its allies, and whether we are going to continue to pay the Iranians billions of dollars to kill Americans and others. You would be amazed at the number of famous legislatures and their top staffers who do not know that we are presently giving Iran $700 million a month, as you would be amazed at the tiny handful of so-called leaders who publicly asked, “why would any president want to pay Iran hundreds of billions of dollars to kill Americans?”
It’s a question than answers itself, or so you would think.
There is so much hacking going on that it seems to have become almost boring. But it behooves us to take hacking very seriously. I think if the public knew more about the way hacked information is actually being used, we’d pay closer attention and defend ourselves more effectively.
Who cares about all the hacking? Take a hypothetical example: suppose American soldiers in the Middle East start receiving emails that sound something like this:
“Good morning. We thought you would like to know that we are carefully watching your daughter Rosie, the one who lives in Wichita at 1234 State Street. This is to inform you that if your tank moves 100 meters north, she will not live to see the sun rise tomorrow.”
That’s the sort of thing that can happen when personal data get into dangerous hands. American troops aren’t afraid to die in combat, but their children did not volunteer.
This sort of blackmail is credible and effective. Threats against the kids are more powerful than those against the troops themselves. And this is only one way in which the hackers and their clients can exploit all those millions of files.
There was a brief flurry of outrage at the report that the “Caliph” of the Islamic state had repeatedly raped American aid worker Kayla Mueller before she finally died in an attack against IS targets. The New York Times devoted a lot of space to what it called the “theology of rape” that is an integral part of the doctrine and practice of the “Caliphate.”
The Times story suggested that the systematic use of rape was of relatively recent vintage for IS, but the violent treatment of women by radical Islamists is nothing new. It ranges from rape and honor killings to beating, to formal, legal definition of women as inferior beings.
Some years ago, I worked on a story about the daughter of a Palestinian immigrant in St. Louis. It will turn your stomach like that of Kayla Mueller will.
Rape, honor killings, and the oppression of women are not limited to Islamist men. But the systematic use of rape certainly seems more common to them than to any other contemporary group. Why?
I am not very good at predicting political events, and I did not expect Senator Chuck Schumer to announce his opposition to the Iran deal before the August recess.
Schumer will now bear the full brunt of his party’s rage. It has already cost him money, no small matter. In my world, anyone willing to pay a steep price for his actions isn’t cunning, but brave.
As a matter of fact, it is much more difficult – at least for me – to account for those who are supporting the Grand Bargain with Iran.
This is because the whole issue boils down to a simple, straightforward question: do we really want to pay Iran to kill Americans?
Just in case you missed it, I’ll ask you again: Do we really want to pay Iran to kill Americans? Because that’s what Obama’s deal does.
I think most of those trying to stop the approval of the Iran Deal are going about it wrong.
I don’t believe you can stop this thing by going through the text and pointing out its myriad flaws, nor do I think it’s good enough to expose the many lies Obama, Kerry, Rhodes et. al. told us along the way, nor even to uncover secret deals.
Kerry and Zarif spent 27 hours alone during the negotiations, and we’re not going to get a transcript of those conversations, nor will either of them tell us what they may have agreed. And even if they did, I don’t think it would produce enough public political rage to stiffen the wobbly spines of our elected leaders.
The critics are quite right for the most part: it’s an awful agreement, the administration has behaved abominably, and the deal should be rejected. I’m just talking about the best way to do it, the best tactics to use.
Obama understands how to do it. We should do the same.
As I predicted here week before last (7/10), the Iranians did not sign on to the Grand Bargain negotiated in Vienna. They don’t want to make a deal with the Great American Satan, even though they do want the American concessions, above all the huge sums of money we’ve promised them.
Now comes Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, as reported by Reuters (7/18) talking as if the agreement itself is in question.
“In a speech at a Tehran mosque punctuated by chants of ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel,’ Khamenei said he wanted politicians to examine the agreement to ensure national interests were preserved, as Iran would not allow the disruption of its revolutionary principles or defensive abilities.
An arch conservative with the last word on high matters of state, Khamenei repeatedly used the phrase ‘whether this text is approved or not,’ implying the accord has yet to win definitive backing from Iran’s factionalized political establishment.”
Concurrently, the head of the Revolutionary Guards announced that the Grand Bargain was unacceptable, and would be rejected.
I know this is dramatically counter-intuitive, since the Grand Bargain is so lopsidedly pro-Iranian. Why on earth would they even think of rejecting it? And yet, two of the most powerful tyrants in Tehran are warning they may do it. Why?
I don’t want to be the sole bearer of bad news for Ben Rhodes, Obama’s guru on Iran, but here it is: the Iranians at Vienna won’t sign anything, per their instructions from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Full credit for this diplomatic accomplishment goes to President Obama, Secretary of State Kerry, Guru Rhodes and the rest of the administration strategists.
Their constant offer of more–more money, more gold, more limits on annoying inspections, more cooperation in the air and on the ground with Iranian forces, etcetera etcetera–solidified Khamenei’s conviction that there is no reason for him to approve a hated deal with the devil.
Keep reminding yourself that Khamenei has two fixed principles: no “new relationship” with the Great Satan, and relentless pursuit of the atomic bomb.
Obama/Kerry/Rhodes won’t take “no” for a definitive answer, so we’re probably going to see a new form of creative appeasement. Short version: It will be a “no deal deal.”
We have to fight them, because their radical imams, mosques, and schools threaten us; they constitute an assembly line for the next generation of home-grown American jihadi killers. But we can’t ask the courts to silence them, because we want to maintain our 1st Amendment rights.
How, then, do we fight? There are three basic lines of attack. The first is to openly contest their odious doctrines and practices.
Second, we should prevent such people from entering America. Third, there is the “Al Capone strategy.”