Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Ironical Analogy. McConnell Lectures Trump. N Korea Challenges Trump. Mass Media Distort Trump Support. Trump Inherited A Mess Alright.

Once in a while we just have to stand back in awe of government.

The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of 

Agriculture, is proud to be distributing the greatest amount of free 

Meals and Food Stamps ever –  46 million people now receive Food 


Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S.

Department of the Interior, asks us "Please Do Not Feed the Animals."  

Their stated reason for the policy is because "The animals will grow 

dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves."

Thus ends today's lesson in irony.


“. . . when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing — when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors — when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you — when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice — you may know that your society is doomed.”

    — Ayn Rand, born Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum, 1905-1982, Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter; from her 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged.

If doing nothing equates with doing something Republicans are batting 1000. 

The Republican members of Congress, most particularly several in the Senate, are so out of touch they either do not care enough to fear the causal connection and/or are so arrogant they believe they can drink their own bath water without retribution.

Today Mc Connell made a speech dumping on Trump for not properly gauging how D.C. Swamp legislators function.

Also today a poll revealed only 10% of Americans have a positive regard for Congress.
We constantly hear how everyone is deserting Trump. No doubt some are disappointed with the man they elected but the mass media have not been right about him from the git go and their continued bashing of everything he does, says and tweets simply reconfirms they are still in left field. 

Link: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/aug/6/inside-the-beltway-numbers-dont-lie-donald-trumps-/?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=email_this&utm_source=email

There is much to compare regarding Iran and Hezbollah and China and N Korea.

In the matter of N Korea, Bill Clinton's agreement with N Korea was very much like Obama's with Iran.  Clinton's deal facilitated N Korea in developing its nuclear program,. Then GW tended to ignore N Korea and Obama helped them by paying hostage money to Iran as a consequence of his dangerous Deal.  How come?  Because it gave Iran the monetary wherewithal to pay N Korea for its nuclear assistance and these funds allowed N Korea to accelerate their own development.

The U.N Resolution, just passed, was impressive in that Russia and China went along with the vote. The problem is, China may do nothing to enforce the sanctions and it is the only nation that has true leverage over N Korea.

Now N Korea has, apparently, resolved nuclear miniaturization issues and advances closer towards being a very near term threat to our homeland and her Asian neighbors like S Korea and Japan.

This enhances N Korea's ability for blackmail and leaves less time for critical decisions Trump must make.

Again, when Trump said he inherited a mess he was telling the truth not only specific to N Korea but to a whole host of issues domestic and foreign. N Korea is the most pressing and the one more likely to lead to a confrontation but he still has to deal with Russia's various threats both in The Middle East and in the Crimean area.

Domestically, he has a collapsing Obamacare matter his own party failed to deal with, Obama regulations that are stifling our economy, infrastructure issues that are past due in terms of needed repairing and a host of other issues involving our border, illegal immigration, cities and states defying federal law and a United States that is more disunited than since the '60's, difficult trade issues and a continuing explosion of federal deficits. (See 1, 1a and 1b below.)
If you want to be the nominee of a growing radical Democrat Party then one of the things you must do is back away from your support of our strongest and most loyal ally.

Just another day in America and at this famous hospital demonstrating it pays to be illegal and pregnant. (See 2 below.)
1) North Korean Brinksmanship on Trump's Nuclear

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Pyongyang uses the buzz that accompanies its ballistic missile and nuclear tests, as well as the obscurity that conceals the extent of its infrastructure for weapons grade fissile materials production and nuclear weaponization, as tools with which to challenge Washington. Trump is not Obama, however. Kim Jong-un will need to tread carefully to avoid provoking an American preemptive strike.

On January 3, 2017, prior to his inauguration as president of the US, Donald Trump posted on Twitter: “North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the US. It won’t happen!” With this tweet, Trump apparently drew a red line for Pyongyang.
This did not encourage North Korea to retreat. It has, in fact, conducted many ballistic missile tests since Trump’s inauguration. This behavior is a continuation of its defiance of the US on nuclear and missile issues dating back to President Clinton’s tenure and even earlier.
While Pyongyang did conduct several ballistic missile tests during Obama’s presidency between 2012 and 2016, they mostly failed. The low number of tests conducted was thus due to the immaturity of North Korea’s long-range missile technology rather than to any reluctance on the part of Kim Jong-un to challenge the Obama administration. As proof, Pyongyang severely provoked Washington by conducting three nuclear tests between 2013 and 2016, which could have had dramatic political and military implications.
Over the past year, North Korea has tested the Pukguksong-2 medium-range (1,200 km) ballistic missile and the Hwasong-12 (tested on May 13). That missile, of intermediate range (over 4,000 km), is capable of hitting the American base of Guam in the heart of the Pacific.
Particularly noteworthy, however, were the two test flights of the Hwasong-14 on July 4 and 28. According to American estimates, the apogees and ranges of the flights confirm that the Hwasong-14 is an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). This weapon is estimated to be capable of reaching a range of 7,000-8,000 km, which would enable it to hit targets such as Alaska, Hawaii, and perhaps even Seattle. It can carry a payload of 500 kgs.
Pyongyang itself referred to the July 4 test as an intercontinental missile launch. According to North Korean state television, Kim Jong-un “observed the test in person”, and North Korean news agency KCNA reported that he jeered, “This is a gift to the American bastards” on their Independence Day.
North Korean media claimed the test proved that the missile could be equipped with a thermally protected atmospheric reentry vehicle, implying that it can carry a nuclear warhead. According to a document distributed by the KCNA, the ICBM launch “fully demonstrated the will and capacity of the DPRK to annihilate the US.”
Strikingly, Seoul differed with both Washington and Pyongyang. A member of the South Korean parliament’s intelligence committee stated during a televised briefing, about a week after the test, that according to his country’s intelligence assessment, North Korea has not yet mastered reentry and guidance system capabilities for ICBMs as it lacks suitable testing facilities for atmospheric reentry technology (presumably wind tunnels). They believe the missile launched on July 4 was not an ICBM but a KN-17, or possibly the medium range Hwasong-12.
Seoul’s intelligence assessment may be biased to align with the political outlook of new president Moon Jae-in, who seeks to improve relations with the North. However, Russia, usually adversarial towards the US, has stated that the last test was conducted with a medium-range missile. Its early-warning radar “Voronezh-VP” in the Irkutsk region showed that the missile only reached a maximum height of 535 kms and a range of 510 km.
Contrary to the media hype accompanying its missile tests, North Korea has maintained some ambiguity in recent years over its nuclear weapons development (with the exception of its third nuclear test conducted in 2013, and the fourth and fifth tests, conducted in 2016, the publicity of which was intended to aggrandize North Korean power). According to Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun of June 11, North Korea was on the verge of conducting a sixth. This assessment was based on “intensified activity” in Punggye-ri, an underground nuclear test site in the mountainous region of Kilju province in the northeast.
The Japanese newspaper’s claim was questioned two days later by experts from the 38 North website of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, which specializes in the study of North Korea. In their view, the Japanese report was likely “fake news.” 38 North experts relied on commercial satellite imagery from June 10 that showed no unusual activity at the site. To their understanding, the most that could be determined was that the test site is on constant standby, and “a sixth nuclear test could be conducted at any time, with minimal advance warning. At this point, renewed nuclear testing is almost entirely dependent on a North Korean leadership decision.”
In view of the North Korean “Iron Curtain,” it is extremely difficult to obtain significant HUMINT (human intelligence) on the goings-on inside that country, especially regarding its facilities for producing fissile materials for nuclear weapons. The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and its inspectors do not have a foothold in North Korea after the latter withdrew in 2003 from the NPT (nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty), although even prior to this, it sought to deceive IAEA inspectors when they wished to monitor its nuclear facilities.
With that said, over the past decade, significant HUMINT has been acquired by the West. Professor Siegfried Hecker, a former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory who devoted his career to the development of US nuclear weapons, was invited to North Korea seven times by the local authorities between 2004 and 2015. Hecker led Stanford University delegations during those visits. Pyongyang’s aim was apparently to prove to the world that it had nothing to hide and that its nuclear program had peaceful objectives.
At the same time, US officials saw these visits as a convenient means of obtaining inside information from within North Korea’s sealed walls. Satellite imagery plays a crucial role in identifying activities within these facilities, and even thermal satellite imagery is available today. Modern-day satellites are equipped with infrared sensors that can detect heat-emitting plants all over the globe, such as nuclear reactors.
At least until the end of the previous decade, the plutonium route was dominant in the production of fissile material for North Korea’s nuclear weapons. The main facilities required were a reactor to produce weapons-grade plutonium from its nuclear fuel and a “hot lab” to extract the plutonium from the spent nuclear fuel.
At the beginning of 1980, North Korea began building an independent 25-megawatt, plutonium-producing reactor (5 MWe) at the Yongbyon nuclear research center, about 90 kilometers north of Pyongyang. The reactor, which is gas-cooled/graphite-moderated, is of the British MAGNOX reactor type.
The Calder Hall reactor, the world’s first MAGNOX reactor, was inaugurated in Britain in 1956 for producing electricity, but was also ideal for the production of plutonium for Britain’s nuclear weapons program. In the 1950s, Britain declassified the planning and technical specifications of the MAGNOX reactor, which were then published openly in the scientific literature.
In the early 1960s, Britain sold Japan a MAGNOX reactor for its first nuclear power plant, Tokai. Some believe North Korea had secret agents within the Japanese nuclear community and thus obtained detailed information on the Japanese reactor’s plans. In any event, North Korea’s plutonium-producing reactor was first revealed to the US intelligence community in April 1982 via satellite imagery.
Unfortunately, the West’s naiveté once again played into Pyongyang’s hands. In 1989, the Americans discovered by satellite imagery that in the vicinity of the plutonium reactor a long, narrow structure was being built, the characteristics of which indicated that it was a “hot lab” with significant plutonium separation capacity. They found that this “hot lab” was quite similar to the Belgian Eurochemic facility for irradiated nuclear fuel reprocessing, near the town of Mol, in terms of building structure and the technological processes of separating irradiated nuclear fuel.
According to Western intelligence agencies, North Korean scientists had been able to get their hands on the specifications of the Eurochemic facility and implement them in the “hot lab” at Yongbyon, officially calling it a “radiochemical laboratory”. It is estimated that this lab has the capacity to process spent fuel from MAGNOX reactors at an annual capacity of 200-250 tons and an extraction capacity of about 100 kgs of plutonium from the spent fuel.
During the second visit of Professor Hecker’s delegation to the Yongbyon center’s nuclear reactor in 2006, they were accompanied by its director, Dr. Ri Hong-Sop. When he showed them the plutonium reactor and the “radiochemical lab”, he stated with pride that they had mastered the entire plutonium production cycle technology. Dr. Ri referred to the nuclear fuel fabrication facility for the Yongbyon plutonium reactor and said they were completing preparations for the facility’s refurbishment, which was expected to reopen in 2007.
The exposure of Pyongyang’s military nuclear program was accompanied by crises vis-à-vis the West, headed by the US and the IAEA. However, in 1994, in an effort to improve its unstable economy, Pyongyang reached an “Agreed Framework” with the US whereby it would freeze its military nuclear program and dismantle the plutonium production infrastructure. The plutonium reactor and “radiochemical laboratory” were shut down, though considerable uncertainty remains as to the amount of plutonium produced in 1986-94 in the plutonium reactor and subsequently separated.
In any case, this was not the end of North Korea’s plutonium activity. In 2003, following its final withdrawal from the NPT, the plutonium reactor and “radiochemical laboratory” were reactivated.
North Korean zigzagging continued. In 2007, as a confidence-building measure, it demolished its 18m-high cooling tower, the prominent symbol of its plutonium project – but on April 25, 2009, Pyongyang announced the reactivation of the “radiochemical laboratory”. Additionally, following a further crisis with the West over its third nuclear test, Pyongyang announced in April 2013 that it intended to refurbish the reactor towards its reopening, which took place in September of that year. Satellite images indicate that the reactor was indeed operational at that time, though probably only sporadically, due to its obsolescence and to problems that appeared in the new cooling tower.
In June 2016, the IAEA assessed that North Korea was preparing to restart the plutonium reactor, the operations of which had been suspended since the end of 2015. According to 38 North, between October 2016 and January 2017, satellite images revealed indicative signs. The channel in the Taeryong River leading to and from the reactor’s cooling cisterns was re-dredged and cleared of ice. In a photo dated December 29, 2016, no snow could be detected on the roofs of the reactor or its auxiliary structures due to higher temperatures within them, in contrast to the snow that was piled up on the roofs of other buildings in the area – evidence of preparations for restarting the reactor.
Later, a satellite photo from January 22, 2017 showed an apparently warm water plume above the reactor’s cooling water outlet, a probable indication that the reactor was in operation. Yet thermal satellite photos between September 2016 and June 2017 indicate that during those months, the plutonium reactor operated at a low level or not at all.
As for the “radiochemical lab”, in October-November 2016, a very high traffic level of railroad flatcars was detected in the vicinity of the reactor. This was in contrast to sparse traffic levels in the previous months of 2016 and in 2015 – and in December 2016, no railroad flatcars were seen at all.
This was an important finding. Some of the 14m-long flatcars carried huge casks, similar to those observed at the Yongbyon center in 2000, when spent nuclear fuel was unloaded from the reactor and transferred to the “radiochemical laboratory” for plutonium separation. The full explanation was revealed by the thermal satellite photos mentioned above. The “radiochemical laboratory” was reactivated during the September-June period, and at least two reprocessing campaigns of plutonium extraction were conducted from batches of the reactor’s spent fuel.
The uranium enrichment program in North Korea began sometime in the mid-1990s in an exchange of information between Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, founder of the Pakistani nuclear program, and North Korea. Khan transferred to North Korea centrifuge technology for uranium enrichment in exchange for Nodong ballistic missile technology. At the time, two industrial-scale centrifuge models were operating in Pakistan: the P1, a first-generation centrifuge with a rotor of aluminum alloy; and the P2, with a maraging steel rotor, which is stronger and has a higher spinning velocity and therefore a greater yield than the P1.
As far back as the late 1990s, US intelligence suspected that a nuclear centrifuge enrichment program existed in North Korea, though the issue was not brought to light until October 2002. A month later, an unclassified CIA report to the US Congress stated, “North Korea’s goal appears to be a plant that could produce enough weapons-grade uranium for two or more nuclear weapons per year when fully operational, which could be launched as soon as mid-decade.”
Reportedly, due to the sanctions imposed on North Korea by the West, it had to use various schemes to carry out its procurement deals for the enrichment program, either directly with China or by using China as a transit point for purchased merchandise.
Only after its second nuclear test in 2009 did Pyongyang publicly announce that it would soon begin enriching uranium, which it claimed would be used as nuclear fuel for an experimental light water reactor (LWR) that was to begin construction after “a satisfactory success is achieved in the development of uranium enrichment technology.”  In fact, according to a Washington Postreport at the end of 2009, Dr. Khan claimed that “North Korea began enriching uranium on a small scale from 2002, using ‘maybe 3,000 or even more’ centrifuges, through assistance from Pakistan for at least six years.”
During the visit of Prof. Hecker and his delegation to Yongbyon in November 2010, the delegation was presented with the uranium enrichment facility at the nuclear center. Prof. Hecker was amazed by what he saw. “Instead of seeing a few small cascades of centrifuges, which I believed to exist in North Korea, we saw a modern, clean centrifuge plant of more than a thousand centrifuges all neatly aligned and plumbed below us … The control room was astonishingly modern … this control room would fit into any modern American processing facility.” According to the chief engineer of the centrifuge plant, 2,000 centrifuges were installed in six cascades, all of which were manufactured in North Korea, according to the centrifuge types operating in Europe and Japan. Prof. Hecker noted that he understood from his hosts that the centrifuges in the facility were of the more advanced P2 type, intended for enriching uranium to 3.5%, a low enrichment level suitable for the production of nuclear fuel for an electricity-producing reactor.
Despite Pyongyang’s declaration that its uranium enrichment program was intended to fuel power reactors, the Americans feared it had established a parallel clandestine centrifuge facility to enrich uranium to a weapons level. In August 2015, a significant upgrade of the uranium enrichment facility at Yongbyon was reported involving the construction of another centrifuge hall. Presumably, in view of the similarity between the latter and the centrifuge hall seen by the Hecker delegation in November 2010, another 2,000 centrifuges were installed in the new hall as well.
The new hall was seen in satellite images from early 2015 with an accumulation of melted snow around it. It can be concluded that a heat source operated within the hall, and therefore that the hall may already have been active. It should be noted that the thermal satellite images from September 2016 through June 2017 showed increased thermal activity in the Yongbyon uranium enrichment plant, though it is not clear whether this was due to centrifuge operations or maintenance operations.
Pyongyang claimed that its fourth nuclear test, conducted in February 2016, was thermonuclear. Although the international scientific community viewed this claim with skepticism, it is possible that there is indeed R&D activity in North Korea. According to a recent report by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) in Washington, it is probable that a facility for the production of lithium-6 was set up near the town of Hungnam on the east coast of North Korea. Lithium-6 is a stable isotope found in natural lithium metal at an abundance of 7.5%. Its separation from lithium-7, the most abundant lithium isotope, is produced using a chemical enrichment process. Lithium 6 is used as an explosive material in thermonuclear weapons, or for the production of tritium (a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that is used to boost the yield of a nuclear bomb).
ISIS’s assessment was based on North Korea’s efforts to purchase equipment and materials in 2012, efforts that were apparently exposed when communication with its suppliers abroad was intercepted. Yet 38 North experts did not locate in the thermal satellite images between September and June any activity in the isotope production facility at Yongbyon that is suspected of being involved in the production of tritium.
Finally, just as there is ambiguity about the extent of the efforts to produce fissile material in North Korea, there is uncertainty about its nuclear arsenal. Prof. Hecker estimated at the end of 2016 that the quantities of fissile material (plutonium and highly enriched uranium) that North Korea had accumulated were sufficient to produce about 20 bombs. At that time, ISIS Institute president David Albright put it between 13 and 30 plutonium and enriched uranium nuclear bombs, given that it was unclear whether North Korea operates one or two uranium enrichment facilities. He also estimated that North Korea was expanding its nuclear weapons stockpile by three to five bombs a year.
While Kim Jong-un desires his country’s military aggrandizement and the preservation of his regime, he must be careful not to escalate too far in defying Trump, who is not Obama. Trump may well consider an American pre-emptive strike. It could be that it is caution about Trump, not technical difficulty, that has stopped Pyongyang from carrying out a nuclear test so far in 2017. With that said, the ambiguity of both North Korea’s nuclear capability and Trump’s “red line” are likely to aid Kim Jong-un in his brinksmanship.
As for Trump, he undoubtedly wants to maintain his credibility in a face-off with another outsized ego. But in light of the sometimes contradictory constraints imposed upon him by the complex international system, he must calibrate his “red line” on the North Korean nuclear issue. At the moment, his only response was his signing on August 2 of a sanctions bill that targets North Korea.
His future responses remain to be seen. The way things look on the road to the White House is not the way they look once you get there.


The next Israel-Hezbollah conflict

By Elliott Abrams

During the Obama years, concerns about Israel’s security situation focused on the Iranian nuclear weapons program. Today, the focus is changing: to the growing Iranian military presence in Syria, the growing military strength of Hezbollah, and the possibility of a devastating Israel-Hezbollah conflict.
That is the subject of a new article in Strategic Assessment, the magazine of Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies. Titled “Political and Military Contours of the Next Conflict with Hezbollah,” it was written by Gideon Sa’ar and Ron Tira. Tira is a strategist who was a longtime Israeli Air Force officer and pilot; Sa’ar is an influential Israeli politician who was for 11 years a Likud member of the Knesset.
It’s dangerous to try to summarize a complex and in many ways worrying text, but I will try.
First, war is possible: “A conflict could break out due to a miscalculation, a failure in strategic communication, or uncontrolled escalation.”
Hezbollah’s buildup of precision weapons presents an enormous threat to Israel, as does the growing Iranian presence in Syria. Together, this may constitute “an attempt by Iran and Hezbollah to reach a strategic balance with Israel, or even to gain the capability to launch a strike that will cause significant damage to critical (military and civilian) systems in Israel.” How so
“In certain senses, Israel is unusual in its vulnerability to precision weapons, as on the one hand it is a Western country with advanced critical infrastructure, and on the other hand, it is a small country with concentrated critical infrastructures and little redundancy. Regarding electricity generation in Israel, for example, out of a capacity to generate about 17,600 MW of electricity, 28% is installed in only two sites (with 10 cumulative production units — turbines, for example). The six largest electricity generating sites in Israel (including private ones) account for 51% of the national capacity for electricity generation (using only 26 production units). Thus the threat represented by even a small number of precision missiles that breach Israel’s countermeasures and strike critical systems, such as electricity generation, could be unprecedented. The picture is similar with regard to other critical systems, such as national electricity management; natural gas infrastructure; sea water desalination (only five facilities supply about half of Israel’s drinking water); and many other examples from civilian and military fields.”
How should Israel then act “Israel must define red lines, including Hezbollah’s acquisition of precision weapons, and particularly the manufacture of precision missiles on Lebanese soil, as well as the future deployment to Syria of high impact Iranian weapon systems (such as advanced surface-to-air missiles, coast-to-sea/coast missiles, and precision surface-to-surface missiles), and be prepared to move forward in an escalation process — as much as is necessary — to foil these buildups.”
In addition to the Hezbollah buildup, the presence of Iranian forces in Syria is a new development that did not exist when Hezbollah and Israel last fought, in 2006.
“Therefore, Israel must examine whether to define a red line of Iranian military buildup in Syria, and if so, be prepared to advance in escalation as far as is necessary in order to prevent such buildup. Growing Iranian military presence in Syria could force Israel to look at the Syrian and Lebanese theaters as one whole. Israel will have to consider whether to continue accepting Iranian activity via its proxies and covert forces, and operate against these proxies — or to act directly against Iran.”
Why is all this happening now Sa’ar and Tira theorize that the Joint Comprehensive Plan, the Obama administration’s 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, may be the culprit: “Indeed, it is possible that the temporary and partial suspension of the Iranian nuclear program is incentivizing what looks like an attempt to reach a strategic balance against Israel in other spheres (to some extent as compensation for suspension of the nuclear program), resulting in a dynamic of escalation. These processes could very well put the regional system at a crossroads, and raise the probability of war.”
There is one other new development: the role of Russia in Syria, which was not present during the 2006 conflict. As the authors note, “Any hostilities on Israel’s northern border could include or spill over into Syria for a range of reasons.”
The Russian presence makes the entire context different: “Israel has the ability to pose a real threat to the Alawite regime, and to degrade the forces defending it significantly. An extension of the fighting to Syria, and in certain cases fighting in Lebanon that projects into Syria, could interfere with Russian attempts to stabilize its own order in Syria.
“Therefore, Russia could try to limit Israel’s political, strategic, and even operational freedom to act. At the same time, Russia is a new element affecting the conduct, restraint, and deployment of all parties, the nature of any possible settlement in Syria, and the possible termination mechanisms for ending a conflict. Russia’s new role in the arena could both coerce Israel and enable it to achieve political and strategic objectives using short, limited, and gradually escalating applications of force, combined with political dialogue with Russia and the United States — and it is possible that in certain circumstances such a framework should be the defining idea of Israel’s concept for fighting in this arena.”
All of this means that Israel must now decide, in any conflict, exactly who is the enemy: “The obvious enemy is Hezbollah, but Israel can also define the enemy as the Lebanese Republic, a contention that is increasingly valid as Hezbollah becomes the main shareholder in Lebanon. The enemy could be defined as the Iranian-Hezbollah axis and the Alawite regime — and this intensifies as the Shiite axis expands its ambitions to establish itself in Syria.”
The next war is a war that will not be “won” by Israel or Hezbollah. Israel’s realistic war aims will not match the damage it will suffer — and the damage it will necessarily inflict.
As Sa’ar and Tira write: “There is only a limited range of ‘positive’ and achievable objectives that Israel can hope to attain from Hezbollah and from Lebanon. While the purpose of an armed conflict is always political, in many contexts it is hard to find a political objective that is both meaningful and achievable at a reasonable cost, and that is the reason for the basic lack of value that can be found in an Israel-Hezbollah military conflict.”
That’s because Russia cannot be expelled, Lebanon will remain roughly half-Shiite, and Hezbollah will survive — as will its relationship with Iran. After the war, the best assumption would be that Hezbollah will rebuild, as it did after 2006. But Hezbollah would achieve nothing positive in such a conflict, suffering immense damage and bringing immense destruction upon Lebanon. Its only possible “gain” is the damage it would inflict on Israel. In a way, this is the only “good news”:
“Therefore, at the fundamental level, both sides have only modest ‘positive,’ vital, and achievable wishes from one another (for example, there is no valuable asset that both sides want — as both Israel and Egypt perceived Sinai and the Suez Canal in 1973). Therefore both sides should have large question marks over the cost-benefit ratio of a high intensity conflict. This is an important stabilizing and restraining factor.”
If war comes, Israel must try to do the most devastating damage to Hezbollah as quickly as possible, while of course trying to limit the damage done to Israel and its infrastructure. This argues for trying to limit the length of the war, because “there is strong linkage between the depth of damage to be inflicted on Hezbollah and the military and civilian price to be paid by Israel for inflicting that damage.” Put another way, “it can be assumed that there is a direct link between the duration of the conflict and the civilian and military price to be paid by Israel.”
This does not necessarily imply that Israel should, on day one of a conflict, send the whole IDF into Lebanon (something it did not do in 2006, and which led to criticism that there was too much reliance on the Air Force in the early days of the war) because “since 2006 the nature of the threat has changed, and the ground offensive that was relevant in 2006 would probably not achieve the same benefit today.”
One clear piece of advice Tira and Sa’ar offer is that all these issues should be discussed now, not once a possible conflict commences. They conclude their article by writing that the next round of fighting will presumably not end “elegantly.”
“Israel will not necessarily be the one to fire the last shot, Hezbollah will likely not ‘capitulate’ and will continue to build up its capabilities, and Hezbollah presumably will continue to promote the narrative of its own ‘victory.’ This is an ‘advanced,’ mature, and not glorious narrative, which must be prepared in advance. To create coherence on the Israeli side, such a narrative should be introduced in advance to Israel’s political, military, and public arenas.”
In other words, there will be no 1967-like smashing victory in such a war. Some of the possible gains will not even be visible until time passes: whether the war constitutes a permanent setback to Iran’s ambitions in the Levant and especially in Lebanon, limits Hezbollah’s arms buildup in the period after the war, and strengthens Israel’s deterrence so that another conflict does not occur or is very long postponed.
Tira and Sa’ar have written a rich, careful, thoughtful, and in many ways disturbing analysis. But as I hope is clear from this effort at summarizing their views, it is an analysis that well rewards a careful reading.
From “Pressure Points” by Elliott Abrams. Reprinted with permission from the Council on Foreign Relations.
1b)Averting a Third Lebanon War

Hezbollah’s missile buildup, facilitated by Lebanon and Iran, is forcing Israel’s hand.
By Ken Dubowitz and Mike Gallagher

Despite significant success against many of these transfers, Hezbollah’s inventory has expanded to more than 150,000 missiles today from an estimated 50,000 missiles at the beginning of the second Lebanon War in 2006. And while many of these projectiles are crude, an increasing number are highly accurate, capable of delivering a massive payload to anywhere in Israel.

Israel, of course, has advanced short-, medium- and long-range missile defenses: the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow systems. But Iran and Hezbollah are now seeking an arsenal that can overwhelm these systems.
If Israeli missile defenses don’t hold—and there’s reason to believe they may not completely prevent a missile onslaught many times the size and potency of what hit the country in 2006—Israeli civilian casualties will mount. At the first sign of such a scenario, the Israeli Air Force might unleash a devastating air campaign and potentially a ground invasion of Lebanon.
Israeli officials have warned that the ensuing war could be much more devastating than the last one between Israel and Lebanon. And they hold Beirut responsible for Hezbollah’s missile buildup. In fact, much of Hezbollah’s arsenal is known to be nestled under or alongside Lebanon’s schools, hospitals and apartment buildings.
Israel would have little choice but to put Lebanese infrastructure in its cross hairs. Which is why officials are sounding the alarm now, to prevent a devastating war.
The Trump administration should make it clear to Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri that it is his responsibility to dismantle these facilities, as well as to ensure that southern Lebanon is free of “any armed personnel, assets and weapons” not under direct control of the Lebanese government, as required by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701.
Israeli diplomats are pleading with Washington to also consider other means to deter Iran. For its use of civilians as human shields, Hezbollah and its Iranian patron should be sanctioned by the U.S. and Europe for committing massive human-rights abuses amounting to war crimes.
Washington should sanction companies listed on the Tehran Stock Exchange that are directly controlled by the military entities in charge of Iran’s ballistic-missile programs, which represent about 20% of the stock exchange’s total market capitalization. It should also sanction the thousands of IRGC front companies active in Iran’s economy and penalize the foreign companies that do business with the IRGC.
Additional steps might include the rewriting of U.S. Treasury rules to block Iranian access to the dollar and impose enhanced audit standards on any businesses involved with Iran.
The Trump administration should also sanction those sectors of the Iranian economy supporting the missile program, including mining, metallurgy, telecommunications, construction, energy, automotive and computer science as well as the IRGC-controlled academic institutes involved in this missile work. The IRGC reportedly has created a special department at Imam Hossein University in Iran to train Lebanese and other operatives in missile production.
Sanctions lifted under the Iran nuclear agreement should be restored. Blacklist the Central Bank of Iran and expel Iranian banks from the Swift banking system.
Some will worry this financial pressure could put the Iranian nuclear agreement at risk. So be it. This is the price Iran must pay for pushing the region into another bloody confrontation.
And if sanctions don’t succeed, Israel should be given the wide berth it needs to address the threat using all means at its disposal.
Mr. Dubowitz is the chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Mr. Gallagher, a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer, is a congressman from Wisconsin.  Follow Mark on Twitter @mdubowitz
2)  Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas , Texas is a fairly famous institution and for a variety of reasons:
1. John F. Kennedy died there in 1963
2. Lee Harvey Oswald died there shortly after
3. Jack Ruby-who killed Lee Harvey Oswald, died there a few years later..by coincidence
"On the flip side, Parkland is also home to the second busiest maternity ward in the country with almost 16,000 new babies arriving each year.
(That's almost 44 per day---every day)
A recent patient survey indicated that 70 percent of the women who gave birth at Parkland in the first three months of 2006 were illegal immigrants.  That's 11,200 anchor babies born every year just in Dallas .
According to the article, the hospital spent $70.7 million delivering 15,938 babies in 2004 but managed to end up with almost $8 million dollars in surplus funding. Medicaid kicked in $34.5 million, Dallas County taxpayers kicked in $31.3 million and the feds tossed in another $9.5 million.
The average patient in Parkland is maternity wards is 25 years old, married and giving birth to her second child.  She is also an illegal immigrant.  By law, pregnant women cannot be denied medical care based on their immigration status or ability to pay.
OK, fine.  That doesn't mean they should receive better care than everyday, middle-class American citizens.  But at Parkland Hospital , they do.  " Parkland Memorial Hospital has nine prenatal clinics.  NINE.
The Dallas Morning News article followed a Hispanic woman who was a patient at one of the clinics and pregnant with her third child---her previous two were also born at Parkland .  Her first two deliveries were free and! the Mexican native was grateful because it would have cost $200 to have them in Mexico .  This time, the hospital wants her to pay $10 per visit and $100 for the delivery but she was unsure if she could come up with the money.  Not that it matters, the hospital won't turn her away.  (I wonder why they even bother asking at this point.)
"How long has this been going on?  What are the long-term affects?
Well, another subject of the article was born at Parkland in 1986 shortly after her mother entered the US illegally - now she is having her own child there as well  (That's right, she's technically a US citizen.)
These women receive free prenatal care including medication, nutrition, birthing classes and child care classes.  They also get freebies such as car seats, bottles, diapers and formula.
Most of these things are available to American citizens as well but only for low-income applicants and even then, the red tape involved is almost insurmountable.
Because these women are illegal immigrants, they do not have to provide any sort of legitimate identification - no proof of income.  An American citizen would have to provide a social security number which would reveal their annual income - an illegal immigrant need only claim to be poor and the hospital must take them at their word.
 "My husband is a pilot for the United States Navy (yes, he fought in Iraq ) and while the health care is good, we Navy wives don't get any of these perks!  Car seats?  Diapers?  Not so much.  So my question is this: Does our public medical care system treat illegal immigrants better than American citizens?  Yes, it does!
As I mentioned, the care I have received is perfectly adequate but it's bare bones, meat and potato medical care - not top of line.
Their (the illegals') medical care is free - simply because they are illegal immigrants?  Once again, there is no way to verify their income.
Parkland Hospital offers indigent care to Dallas County residents who earn less than $40,000 per year.  (They also have to prove that they did not refuse health coverage at their current job.  Yeah, the 'free' care is not so easy for Americans.)
There are about 140 patients who received roughly $4 million dollars for un-reimbursed medical care.  As it turns out, they did not qualify for free treatment because they resided outside of Dallas County so the hospital is going to sue them!  Illegals get it all free!  But U. S citizens who live outside of Dallas County get sued!   How stupid is this?
As if that isn't annoying enough, the illegal immigrant patients are actually complaining about hospital staff not speaking Spanish.  In this AP story, the author speaks with a woman who is upset that she had to translate comments from the hospital staff into Spanish for her husband.  The doctor was trying to explain the situation to the family and the mother was forced to translate for her husband who only spoke Spanish.  This was apparently a great injustice to her.
In an attempt to create a Spanish-speaking staff, Parkland Hospital is now providing incentives in the form of extra pay for applicants who speak Spanish.  Additionally, medical students at the University of Texas Southwestern for which Parkland Hospital is the training facility will now have a Spanish language requirement added to their already jammed-packed curriculum.  No other school in the country boasts such a ridiculous multi-semester (multicultural) requirement.
In the meantime, I have to end my column here.  I have to go buy a car seat."

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