Friday, February 17, 2017

Settlements and Facts. Strassel on Climate Change.

Olivia, our first great grandchild, is now a month old, growing and adding weight.
Comments from a relative and memo reader regarding President Trump's first press conference.

" Re the mess he inherited, he gave Obama a pass. The person directly responsible, in my opinion, for the great division in the country Is Obama. There was always division but nothing like it is today. The Democrats want Trump to fail, forget about the America. and its  people. Every change will be challenged in the courts to delay. Obama a key shadow general. $24 million already in the bank for ACLU favorite venues selected for correct Obama appointed Judges. Flashback Rome Colosseum let the Games begin."

I happen to agree and certainly the Democrats intend to law suit Trump until he either begins to win or they win.  In either case, the nation loses but they do not care because destroying Trump's presidency takes precedence over anything else.
Settlements and facts. (See 1 below.)
My friend and fellow memo reader, Kim Strassel, has urged Trump not to fade on climate legislation.

Kim is absolutely correct because liberals know how to fight for their policies and have a history of settling for a half loaf knowing that, amoebic-ally speaking, the loaf grows over time.  Passed legislation generally never goes the way of all flesh. It remains like a drunken house guest, taking on a life of its own. (See 2 below.)
A new approach towards making policy? You decide. (See 3 below.)
Sen. Mc Cain attacks Trump and suggests the administration is in disarray. Coming from a man who ran a terrible  and confused campaign this borders on chutzpah.

Is Mc Cain engaged in pay back for Trump's question of his heroism? You decide.
1)Why Believe That the ‘Settlements’
Are Obstacles to Peace?
By Daniel E. Bacine
Like you, I would like to see peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.

Over the past year I’ve had conversations with a number of Jewish friends on this subject and have been astonished about their lack of knowledge of the relevant facts. Some on the far left believe that Israel’s settlement policies are both illegal and an impediment to peace.

The facts demonstrate otherwise. To better understand the situation in Israel between the Arabs and the Jews, it’s necessary to understand the history.

Jews have lived, continuously, in Palestine for well more than 2,000 years. The geographical area — not a political entity — was controlled by the Ottoman Empire for hundreds of years before World War I. After the war, the British took control; the area became known as Mandatory Palestine, or the British Mandate.

In 1917, Lord Balfour, Britain’s foreign secretary,  wrote a letter to the leader of Britain’s Jewish community. In the letter, which became known as the Balfour Declaration, he expressed Britain’s then-view favoring the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine, at the same time recognizing that there were non-Jews in Palestine whose rights should not be prejudiced.

The principle contained in that declaration was incorporated into the peace agreement with the Ottoman Empire at the end of the war. There were both Jews and Arabs living in Palestine at the time, but no political entity. Rather, from the end of World War I until 1948, Britain controlled Palestine.

While Jews had been living in Palestine for more than 2,000 years, Jews had been dispersed over the millennia, leaving the Jewish population there relatively small. But Jews were persecuted in many countries and, beginning in the late 19th century, the Zionist movement developed.

Thousands of Jews moved to Palestine over the next 50 years or so to escape persecution and pogroms. Unfortunately, many in Eastern and Central Europe stayed, never believing that what was to happen in Germany with the Nazis could ever happen in such a civilized society. In 1947, following World War II, the newly created United Nations adopted a resolution to partition Palestine into two states: a Jewish state and an Arab state.

The U.N. Partition Plan did not refer to a Palestinian state, but to an Arab state. It referred to Palestinian Arabs and Palestinian Jews. There was no people called the Palestinians. The partition plan referred to the area that most people refer to as the West Bank as Judea and Samaria, which are the names that had been in continuous use in those areas for more than 2,000 years.

The Jews quickly accepted the U.N. plan, even though the land allocated to the new Jewish state was fraught with security and other issues, was not contiguous and did not include Jerusalem. But the Arabs rejected it.
When the State of Israel was established in 1948 and declared its independence, armies from Egypt, Jordan and Syria invaded. Israel’s war of independence ended not with a peace treaty, but with armistice lines.
The 1949 armistice lines are sometimes incorrectly referred to as the 1967 borders. They are not borders at all; since the Arabs rejected the U.N. proposal, there are no recognized borders. From 1948 through 1967, Judea and Samaria was occupied by Jordan. Note that Jordan, an Arab state, made no effort during its occupation to create a Palestinian state. Jordan changed the name of those areas to the West Bank, a name that has unfortunately stuck.

In 1967, in reaction to the Egyptian army mobilizing in the Sinai, Israel made a preemptive strike against the Egyptian forces and defeated them handily, gaining control of both the Sinai and Gaza. Meanwhile, Egypt had induced both Syria and Jordan to attack Israel from the east. That resulted in Israel gaining control of the Golan Heights, Judea and Samaria, and the Old City of Jerusalem, including the Kotel. That war became known as the Six-Day War.

So historically, what’s called the West Bank is not Arab — or Palestinian — land at all, but is disputed land, without recognized governance. It would have been Arab land if the Arabs had accepted the U.N. Partition Plan. In that context, then, the issue of so-called settlements is rather complicated.

Some Israeli communities over the Green Line are in areas that most people think will be within what will become Israel’s recognized border if there ever is an agreement. Some are not.

But remember, when Israel gave back the Sinai after it made peace with Egypt, as part of the deal Israel abandoned Jewish communities that had been established in the Sinai. And Israel abandoned the Jewish communities in Gaza when Israel left Gaza.

The resolution that the U.N. Security Council recently adopted, with the help of the U.S. government, ignores the truth and gives credence to those who would destroy Israel. Among other things, according to the U.N. resolution, Israel is now illegally occupying the Jewish Quarter in the Old City and the Kotel. Even Israelis on the political left who are against the government’s settlement policy understand the security needs that would prevent Israel from now agreeing to call the 1949 armistice line a border.

Settlements have never been an impediment to peace and are not an impediment now even if one believes, as I do, that they are diplomatically not a good idea. There were no settlements between 1948 until 1967, when Jordan controlled Judea and Samaria.

The Arabs have had many opportunities to make peace with Israel and to have their own state. They refused in 1947, and on a number of occasions since then. Hamas and many Palestinian Arabs — probably a majority — don’t want a Jewish presence anywhere between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. That’s the impediment to peace.

Israel is no more a perfect country than is ours. And its internal politics are as messy as ours. Israelis do not speak with one voice on the government’s policy concerning the building of homes over the Green Line. But I can say definitively that the so-called settlements are neither illegal nor an impediment to peace. Those who say otherwise are either ignorant of the facts or, worse, ignore them.

Daniel E. Bacine is an attorney in Philadelphia. He is a former member of the Jewish Publishing Group.
2)Don’t Wimp Out on Climate

If Trump doesn’t dump the Paris accord, his economic agenda is in jeopardy.


President Trump will soon turn his attention to another major campaign promise—rolling back the Obama climate agenda—and according to one quoted administration source his executive orders on that topic will “suck the air out of the room.” That’s good, but only if Team Trump finishes the job by casting into that vacuum the Paris climate accord.

That’s no longer a certainty, which ought to alarm anyone who voted for Mr. Trump in hopes of economic change. Candidate Trump correctly noted that the accord gave “foreign bureaucrats control over how much energy we use,” and he seemed to understand it risked undermining all his other plans. He unequivocally promised to “cancel” the deal, which the international community rushed to put into effect before the election. The Trump transition even went to work on plans to short-circuit the supposed four-year process for getting out.
That was three months ago—or approximately 93 years in Trump time. Word is that some in the White House are now aggressively pushing a wimpier approach. A pro-Paris contingent claims that quick withdrawal would cause too much international uproar. Some say leaving isn’t even necessary because the accord isn’t “binding.”
Then there’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who in his confirmation hearing said: “I think it’s important that the United States maintain its seat at the table on the conversations around how to address threats of climate change, which do require a global response.” Those are not the words of an official intent on bold action, but of a harassed oil CEO who succumbed years ago to the left’s climate protests.
Here’s the terrible risk of the wimpy approach: If the environmental left has learned anything over the past 20 years, it’s that the judicial branch is full of reliable friends. Republicans don’t share the green agenda, and the Democratic administrations that do are hampered by laws and procedures. But judges get things done. Need a snail added to the endangered species list? Want to shut down a dam? File a lawsuit with a friendly court and get immediate, binding results.

Lawsuits are already proving the main tool of the anti-Trump “resistance.” CNN reported that 11 days into his tenure, Mr. Trump had already been named in 42 new federal lawsuits. John Walke, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, told NPR that his group will litigate any Trump efforts to roll back environmental regulations. He boasted about green groups’ winning track record at the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which Mr. Obama and Harry Reid packed with liberal judges.
It is certain that among the lawsuits will be one aimed at making the Paris accord enforceable. The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Myron Ebell says judges could instruct the Environmental Protection Agency to implement the deal. “If President Trump doesn’t withdraw Obama’s signature, and Congress doesn’t challenge it,” he says, “then the environmentalists stand a good chance of getting a court to rule that our Paris commitments are binding and direct EPA to make it happen.”
Think that’s impossible? Instead, think Justice Anthony Kennedy, who in 2007 cast the deciding vote to declare carbon dioxide a pollutant, and who in September defended his habit of looking for guidance to international law. And consider that a few years back, CEI’s Chris Horner unearthed a legal memo from the New York attorney general’s office that laid out a strategy to get courts to force C0 2 cuts under international treaties.
Even with the Obama administration’s economy-crushing climate program, the U.S. is about 45% short of meeting its Paris obligations. If Mr. Trump rolls back the Obama regulations, the U.S. would fall about 70% short. If Mr. Trump would like to see short work made of his economic agenda, let Paris stand, and let a court decree the proper way to implement it. Bye-bye fracking. Bye-bye offshore drilling. Bye-bye Continental Resources and Keystone.
Paris was the capstone of a unilateral Obama climate agenda that ignored the law, the will of Congress, and the people. Mr. Trump ought to shred it on those grounds alone. There’s also the point that he made a rock-solid campaign pledge to both end the Paris accord and completely defund United Nations climate programs—promises that rallied many blue-collar workers to his cause.
A withdrawal from Paris is a perfect way to reset—overnight—the international climate debate, and to position Mr. Tillerson’s State Department to lead on economic growth and international security. Paris is a distraction from—if not an outright hindrance to—both. If Mr. Trump cares to succeed with the rest of his pro-growth agenda, he needs to follow through: Au revoir, Paris.
3) Making Policy in the New Administration

The Trump White House continues to receive advice – solicited and unsolicited, in letters to the editor, op-eds, essays, and policy papers – as to what its foreign policy priorities should be.  It is tempting to presume that problems called "priorities" can be resolved with just a little more savvy or a little more will.  But if they could have been, they would have been.  Insteadthe administration might consider priorities for American behavior – political, economic, and military.
First, there are three questions to be asked:
  • What should the United States do to ensure that allies feel secure and adversaries don't?
  • How can America encourage countries that are neither allies nor adversaries to cooperate on issues of importance?
  • How can Washington encourage countries to want to be "more like us" (politically and economically free with more transparent government) and "less like them" (totalitarian, communist, jihadist, and less transparent)?
    • And if they choose to be "more like them," what are the limits of American encouragement or coercive capabilities?
OK, that's four questions, but when they are answered, the first priority that emerges is creation of a clear statement of American goals and desired outcomes.  In the broader Middle East, the United States is engaged in lethal operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia while being at war with none of them, and in each, the outcome we seek is unstated.
As the military and diplomatic objectives are formulated, the second priority is"public diplomacy," stressing what made/makes America what it has been and should be – a beacon of hope for people around the world.  Individual freedoms including rights to property and to profit from one's creativity and work; constraints on government enshrined in the Bill of Rights and the checks and balances of the system; free expression, including the right to criticize the government; and opportunity for all resulting in (at least relative) prosperity for most are what people admire.
This should not be confused with "democracy promotion" – a failed concept.  The U.S. should promote and advance specific human rights and freedoms for citizens without trying to determine the nature of the political system of any country.
Messaging is a two-way street.  On the one hand, the United States should be clear and vocal about what it does support, and on the other hand, it must be clear about threats to the American body politic contained in the messages of radical Islamist-jihadist ideology.  The U.S. must develop strategy to discredit and defeat Islamic triumphalism that includes clarifying the expansionist-totalitarian nature of jihadism.
This is a reasonable place to consider Israel, a country that fits squarely among U.S. allies.  The U.S.-Israel alliance should be understood within the context of Israel's essential contribution as an innovative, experienced, and successful front-line fighter against Islamic radicalism.  Most important, Israel, unlike other "helpers" in the region, is impregnable politically to Islamism and its insidious influence.  The same cannot be said of a single E.U. country.
While the above priorities do not require military action – indeed, they necessarily and deliberately lean heavily on trade and public diplomacy – a strong U.S. military is the third priority.  America needs military resources constructed to match current and projected levels of threat to convince adversaries and would-be adversaries that the U.S. has the military force to meet aggression from low-scale and low-tech along the spectrum to high-tech, cyber, and nuclear.  Nuclear modernization is an absolute priority, as the Russians have been engaged in modernization for years, and Iran's legal breakout of the Iran deal is no more than eight years away – and may be much closer.
Primary Strategic Challenges: Russia, China, and Iran
Russia: The goal should be ensuring that America's friends and allies in both Central Europe and Central Asia are not inhibited in their growth and development by the actions of the Russian government.  This requires enhancing trade and other relations with the newer and peripheral NATO countries.  At a farther remove, the goal should be to ensure that Russian influence in the Middle East is not threatening to American allies and friends.  Russia's pursuit of naval bases in Libya as well as Syria should be understood in the context of a minimal U.S.-NATO naval presence in the Mediterranean.
The United States should engage with its NATO allies in an in-depth review of purposes, membership, cohesion, and military modernization and membership in the organization.  This should include limits to expansion and out-of-area operations.
China: What is true for Russia and the countries surrounding it is equally true for China and the countries surrounding it. Ensuring that America's friends and allies in the region are not inhibited in their growth and development by actions of the Chinese government will involve both messaging activities and ensuring freedom of navigation, freedom of association, and strong trade relations between the U.S. and "periphery" countries – South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, etc.
Iran: American concerns about Iran break in two directions: nuclear and hegemonic.  Both need to be addressed.  The fact is that the current set of nuclear violations by Iran is fairly small – and the violations are likely to remain fairly small because Iran's short-term goals have to do with regional hegemony, not nuclear weapons.  After 8-10 years, Iran can legitimately become a nuclear weapons breakout state – and 8-10 years is a very short period of time.
Contrary to some, there are no "snap-back" sanctions and little chance that the U.N. would reconstruct sanctions against Iran.  At the same time, there remain U.N. and U.S. congressional sanctions that have not been and will not be lifted.  The United States should be holding up the evidence of Iranian violations, and for each there should be a cost.  It could be in trade, banking, visas, or something else, but there should be some cost to Iran – beginning with being called on the violations.  Iran claims that it will withdraw from the JCPOA if Washington holds it accountable.
That's fine.
On the conventional/terror support side, Iran occupies whole swaths of Iraq, fields a sizable foreign army inside Syria, and engages in a variety of military and terror-sponsoring activities in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf region.  Iran harasses American ships in the Persian Gulf, and, absent an American response, Iran controls the Persian Gulf to the east of Saudi Arabia and through its support of Houthi rebels in Yemen (on the Red Sea west of Saudi Arabia).  Thus, it is close to controlling both water access routes for Saudi (and other) oil from the region to the oceans.
The United States should make clear its commitment to freedom of navigation along both waterways and take steps to ensure that it can meet the commitment, including responding to incidents of harassment.
The U.S. should also strengthen relations with and strengthen the capabilities of anti-Iranian Arab countries vis-à-vis Iran and internationally work to suppress nuclear cooperation among Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan, and dual-use trade with the West, and restricting as much as possible regime access to the international financial system.
As a general matter: America should diminish attention to and reduce the influence of the United Nations.  Defund and withdraw from troublesome and incorrigible sub-agencies including the U.N. Human Rights Commission, UNRWA (and the five U.N. committees devoted to Palestinian "rights"), UNESCO, and the International Court of Justice.
At the same time, Washington can build a de facto alliance of democracies, starting with Anglo-democracies – the United States, the U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand – and building outward to others: India, South Korea, Israel, Poland, Japan, the Baltic states, etc.  This should be done at first informally, but publicly for public diplomacy purposes, security consultations on terrorism, migrant flows and crises, mutual assistance planning for natural disasters, mutual defense, and cultural exchanges and promotions.
Non-members, adversaries, and U.N. bureaucrats will get the point – which is the beginning of the restoration of the United States to its role of international guarantor of international trade and navigation and defender of American interests and allies abroad.

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