Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Pigeons Coming Home To Roost! Trump's Continuing Personnel Issues! Marshall Goldman's Obituary.

Obituary of my friend, Dr. Marshall Goldman:http://obits.dignitymemorial.com/dignity-memorial/obituary.aspx?n=Marshall-Goldman&lc=7323&pid=186277732&mid=7509075
I have been warning about N Korea and Iran for years and after Trump became president I noted he might be forced to resolve failures of his predecessors and, in the case of N Korea most likely could be forced to attack because China would not do what was needed.

China voted for the recent U.N sanction and reports suggest China conducts about $3 billion in trade with their neighbor. Will China curb their trade and enforce the U.N sanctions?  That remains to be seen.  They could also drag their feet and partially comply staving off criticism but that allows N Korea funding and time to complete their nuclear goals.

China also owns a lot of our debt and does an enormous amount of trade with us so they have every "rational" reason not to want to see America attacked nor Trump be forced to attack N Korea.

A destroyed N Korea would also pose problems for China because they would have to deal with the aftermath of any attack and the resulting refugee flight and devastation on their border.

An attack on N Korea by Trump would also cause enormous problems because of the casualty rate and devastation but, as president, he took an oath to defend America. Clinton and Obama, of course, took the same oath but their feckless foreign policies helped bring us to where we are with both N Korea and Iran.

GW took the same oath as well and did respond to the 9/11 attack but the aftermath of  the war with IRAQ and Obama's premature withdrawal also contributed to the mess Trump now has laid at his door.

Are Chinese leaders rational enough and will they understand the problems Trump faces from a threatening N Korea, their own foot dragging and how this could force Trump to take actions he would prefer to avoid?  (See 1 and 1a below.)

In my previous memo I also posted two articles on the threat Israel faces from Iran and its surrogate - Hezbollah mostly because of Obama's Iran Deal.

Though Israel has never asked for America to fight it's military battles, should Israel have to defend against Hezbollah  or engage in a preemptive strike either event could force Trump's hand and this could escalate to a confrontation in Syria with Russia as well as our own need to end the future threat from a nuclear Iran.

If Israel even defends against a pre-emptive strike by Hezbollah, the world media will make sure that Israel is portrayed as the aggressor and will be held accountable for the casualties that will accrue from Hezbollah's use of human shields, placing weaponry in civilian structures etc. (See 1b below.)

History is replete with wars caused by mis-calculations, leaders who mistakenly believed you can buy off tyrants, weakness/appeasement sends strong messages etc.

Are the pigeons about ready to come home?  Time will tell but I believe Trump might be forced to do something for which we are psychologically unprepared. The markets got a whiff yesterday I believe.
Should Trump dump McMaster?

Even if Trump wants to, and he says he is not, doing so would only add to the criticism regarding his staffing issues and would provide the mass media with  a field day for attacking him.

According to one article, Bannon is the one who Trump should dump.(See 2 and 2a below.)

While I am posting views about some on Trump's team, I continue to be disappointed with Tillerson and would have wished John  Bolton had been appointed Secretary of State.  Yes, he reminds me of Gen. Patton, but that is what we need .

And then there is this comment from former Rep. Chaffetz. (See 2b below.)
Putin's revenge? Hell hath no fury as a KGB scorned. (See  3 below.)

President Trump, Not President Clinton, Will Now Deal With North Korea

North Korea appears to now be capable of placing a nuclear weapon on top of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Just over 17 years ago, then President Bill Clinton claimed he had structured a deal with North Korea that would prevent this day from ever arriving. But, to be fair to President Clinton, he had Jimmy Carter undermining him every step of the way. For Republicans trying to blame President Clinton, President Carter must own some of the blame. History will note that President Carter went to North Korea of his own volition and sabotaged any legitimate deal we could have gotten.

But history also shows that for the last seventeen years multiple American Presidential Administrations have dithered as the North Koreas plotted a nuclear weapons strategy. Whether by distraction, denial, or delusion, three consecutive American Presidents let this occur.
Now it falls to President Trump to deal with it. For his part, the President sternly warned North Korea that he would deliver a fiery response if North Korea threatened the United States. North Korea then prompted threatened to nuke Guam. Thus far, President Trump has been quiet. That silence will not be able to last.
I know there are those of you who have heartburn at the thought of President Trump, not Hillary Clinton, being the one with the button and the nuclear football. I know there are those who wish it was not so. I would hope those people would honestly assess why President Trump is now President instead of continuing to blame Russia for stealing the election. It appears that not only will these people not honestly assess Hillary Clinton’s and their loss, but that they will double down both on contempt for those with whom they have political disagrees and denial of what actually happened.

Though the left can construct alternate realities in their minds, Hillary Clinton fan fiction, protests, and clever tweets, the reality as the sun rises this morning is that Donald Trump is President, Hillary Clinton is not, and President Trump must now deal with the failures of his predecessors. We should all also be mindful that the very rhetoric used by Bill Clinton to assure the world North Korea would never get nukes was then used by Barack Obama to assure us Iran would never get nukes.

President Trump, in dealing with the messes of his predecessors regarding North Korea, should take a very hard look at the Iranian deal lest a future President have to play clean up there.
In the meantime, all of us should be in prayer for our President. We should pray that he listens to the wisdom of competent advisors and does that which is truly in the best interests of our nation. Likewise, those of you who are convinced the man will go nuclear pre-emptively and are spending the morning in the fetal position bed wetting, you should understand you and your contempt for Americans who disagree with you politically had a great deal to do with Hillary Clinton losing and Donald Trump winning. And the more Google fires employees for thought crimes and the left champions the persecution of conservatives, Christians, and anyone with common sense, the more likely it is Donald Trump will get re-elected.
This whole presidency that now must respond to this dangerous situation has far less to do with Russia and far more to do with the left’s abject hatred and contempt for their fellow Americans costing them the trust of the people.

Two terrible choices.

We have reached the tipping point.

Last month, according to the Washington Post, the Defense Intelligence Agency completed an analysis that concluded North Korea has successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead. The news comes on the heels of tests conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that demonstrated it could fire an intercontinental ballistic missile that can, theoretically, reach the continental United States. The DPRK has also successfully tested a vehicle that can survive reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere. Combine all three, and North Korea could have the capacity to deliver a nuclear warhead to a target hundreds if not thousands of miles away.

American policy makers now face two distinctly suboptimal courses of action. They can determine, albeit only implicitly, to allow North Korea to develop, test, and expand its nuclear arsenal and hope that Pyongyang can be deterred from attacking the United States or its allies with a nuclear weapon. The operative word is “hope.” DPRK is not the Soviet Union. It has been implicated in providing material support for rogue regimes and terrorist actors, and it has not been shy about orchestrating terrorist attacks on foreign soil. The latest such event occurred only months ago when Kim Jong-un ordered the assassination of a member of his family on foreign soil using a weapon of mass destruction.

Even if the DPRK can be deterred from mounting a nuclear attack on American assets or allies using a weapon with a return address, it may be harder to deter the North Korean regime from executing covert operations using a nuclear weapon. The cash-strapped DPRK may also be tempted to contribute to the proliferation of those weapons by providing nuclear material or technology to rogue-state or non-state actors. American policymakers will have to hope they can communicate to Pyongyang that the consequences of these actions will be as grave as they would be if the Kim regime were directly responsible for an attack on American assets or allies. Such threats are likely to be empty, and they will ring hollow in Pyongyang.

The other option is no less attractive: neutralize North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. That’s a near impossible task. DPRK nuclear facilities are diffuse, hardened, and underground. Their delivery systems are road mobile and disguised. North Korea’s solid-fueled rocket capabilities may not be 100 percent reliable, but eliminating the necessity of fueling a rocket before launch makes those rockets harder to detect. The most success that American policymakers can hope for is to degrade, not destroy, North Korea’s capacity to make and deliver nuclear weapons.

Any strike on the regime in Pyongyang brings with it the potential for a regional war of the kind humanity has not seen in a generation. Pyongyang could retaliate by targeting South Korea and Japan with a limited or full-scale response. Washington may be tempted to believe that North Korea would take a tap on the nose and not respond. After all, to respond, even proportionally, would be to reveal the extent to which Pyongyang’s supposedly fearsome arsenal is a paper tiger.

The thinking goes like this: Every artillery shell fired on Seoul exposes a position to radar, which is summarily targeted and destroyed. Pyongyang’s deterrent capabilities would not survive long. Moreover, analysts believe a good portion of those artillery tubes would fail. The hollowness of the North Korean military would lead to a destabilization of the regime, even if it were not followed on with a full-scale ground invasion from the South and the sealing of the Chinese border. The Kim regime would not survive this scenario.

That’s a big gamble, and it’s one that American policymakers are prudently wary about pursuing. Deterrence has its own risks. With miniaturization and delivery capability, DPRK could target the tens of thousands of U.S. armed forces stationed in Japan and Korea with almost no warning. In a blinding flash, American deterrence in Northeast Asia could disappear. That’s a prospect that no American president would want to leave as his legacy.

The time for good options is passed. If the DIA analysis is correct, the United States now must choose between two terrifying prospects. For decades, U.S. officials have kicked the North Korean can down the road. This is the end of the road.


Iran Is Using Syria to Advance Toward the Mediterranean

Islamic State needs to be stopped, but Tehran is a far more menacing strategic threat.

By Naftali Bennett

Hezbollah announced last month that it had captured the Syrian-Lebanese border area of Juroud Arsal from Islamic State forces. Far from being a minor development in a violent and unstable region, this marks another Iranian success in its quest for power and dominance across the Middle East.

Since its 1979 revolution, Iran has sought to become a dominant world power capable of imposing Islamic rule on as many people as possible. The Iranian regime finances and supports armed militias in other countries and is the world’s top exporter of terror. Hundreds if not thousands of Americans have died at the hands of Iran’s terrorist proxies.

An essential part of Tehran’s grand strategy is to control a land corridor from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea. Under the cover of Syria’s bloody civil war, Hezbollah is helping to build such a highway. Hezbollah, trained and supported by Tehran, is classified as a terror group by the U.S., France and the Arab League, among others.

Its effort endangers the entire Western world. Controlling this corridor would directly connect Iran with its proxies in Syria and Lebanon, allowing it to transfer advanced weapons cheaply and quickly. The highway would let Iran build its military presence on the Mediterranean, bringing much of Europe into the range of its air force, navy and midrange missiles. Iran could even build arms factories outside its borders.

Iranian apologists frame Hezbollah’s capture of the border area as a victory over ISIS, as if the U.S.-led coalition ought to be cheering. ISIS needs to be stopped, but Iran is a far greater problem in the long run. Tehran shouldn’t be mistaken for part of the solution.

As Syria disintegrated through civil war, Iran acted swiftly. It broke international law and forcefully expelled the Sunni population and replaced it with Shiites. This changed the local demography to support Tehran’s planned land corridor through Syria and Iraq. Iran also sent its generals to train Bashar Assad’s troops. Hezbollah has effectively morphed from a terror group into a division of the Iranian army, working for Tehran not only in Lebanon and Syria, but also in Yemen and Iraq.

In the game of chess that Syria has become, Western leaders are so focused on the knight attacking their pawns they cannot see the queen maneuvering to defeat them. Mistaking ISIS as the most serious threat has allowed Iran to move its pieces forward and gain better position. The nuclear deal Iran signed in 2015 demonstrates Tehran’s patience, as it temporarily slows the country’s preparations to acquire nuclear weapons without stopping them over the long term.

I and others are concerned by the cease-fire in southern Syria brokered by the U.S., Russia and Jordan last month. With American and allied forces present in the north, Iran has focused its efforts on the south. The hiatus from violence in that region only gives Tehran another piece of territory in its bid to build a highway to the coast.
It will take time and patience to stop Iran. The international community needs to defeat Tehran wherever its forces advance: in cyberspace, on the battlefields of Yemen and Iraq, and in advanced-weapons laboratories. This effort will be both public and covert, economic and technological. If it results in direct military confrontation, Iran’s foes must be ready to win there too.

Iran must be made to pay a price every day its soldiers remain on Syrian soil helping the Assad regime kill its own people. Tehran’s leaders must know that every violation of the nuclear deal will trigger harsh sanctions. They cannot direct terror attacks in Europe, Asia and America and expect the world to ignore their actions.
There are many possible courses of action against Iran. Yet the free world—led by the U.S.—has yet to take the first and most important step: declaring that it cannot abide an Iranian empire from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea.

Mr. Bennett is a member of Israel’s Security Cabinet and a reserve major in the Israel Defense Forces’ General Staff Reconnaissance Unit.

2)The McMaster Turmoil

H.R. McMaster, currently under attack from conservative critics, is best known for writing a book about the Vietnam War in which he put the blame primarily on the Johnson administration officials, but also excoriated military leaders for failing to challenge policies they knew, or should have known, were misguided. So no one should be surprised that the national security adviser is not inclined to salute and carry out instructions from the Oval Office, but challenges President Trump on matters ranging from personnel decisions to Iran policy.

The two categories are closely linked, since personnel IS policy, and the ongoing purge of NSC officials clearly contains a political dimension, which has been extensively documented. McMaster has recently fired several senior NSC officials—Rich Higgins, Ezra Cohen and Derek Harvey—who reportedly favored a tougher line on Iran than McMaster does. Their replacements come from the CIA, which traditionally has taken a pessimistic view of chances for changing the nature of the Tehran regime.
The political conflict extends well beyond the narrow issue of Iran policy. McMaster has instructed his staff to avoid using the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism,” and tried to remove it from the president’s recent speech in Warsaw, Poland (Trump put it back in). According to a recent rumor, the NSC declined to schedule a talk on radical Islamic terrorism by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, one of the country’s most respected authorities, reportedly because one of McMaster’s appointees, Mustafa Javed Ali, accused her of “Islamophobia.” McMaster’s predecessor, General Mike Flynn, advocated waging ideological war against “radical Islamists,” supporting moderate Muslims, and putting the United States firmly behind Muslim governments, such as Indonesia and Egypt, that fought the jihadis. McMaster does not agree.
This ideological component goes hand in hand with McMaster’s refusal to fire holdovers from the Obama NSC, and with his widely reported remarks to staff, arguing that there really are no holdovers, that everyone at the NSC is a professional civil servant, and that everyone is trying to do the best possible job. It’s a happy thought, but not widely shared in Washington. Those calling for his removal ask why Obama appointees are protected, while Trump loyalists are shown the gate.

Finally, as his critics have pointed out, McMaster not only challenges the president’s policy views, he has been known to disregard explicit instructions on personnel (Trump wanted Ezra Cohen to remain at his post as NSC intelligence chief, for example), and despite explicit presidential unhappiness with McMaster’s advocacy of sending large numbers of American troops to Afghanistan and Iraq, he continues to call for it, while he fights Trump’s wishes to declare Iran in violation of the nuclear deal, thereby ending the agreement.

It’s ironic that McMaster is now being attacked for doing what he has most famously and popularly advocated: challenging political policy makers, even his commander in chief, when he thinks they are on the wrong course. On the other hand, the National Security Council isn’t supposed to craft policy; its role is to manage policy implementation across the government. To be sure, people like McMaster have strong convictions and will invariably and properly express them. The question is whether he has crossed the line between good management and policy making.

Moreover, the recent personnel changes, seemingly reflecting an ideological conviction, raise the possibility that McMaster has violated his own call for dissenters to speak out. Those who were not in lockstep with McMaster’s own views are now looking for new jobs. Instead, the national security adviser who excoriated his predecessors for excessive compliance with their leaders’ policies now stands accused of firing those who were not compliant with his own preferences. This is not only in conflict with his own wise words about the Vietnam generation, but a bad way to shape policy. Good presidents and cabinet secretaries are best served by national security advisers who present them with a full range of views. Then the president decides, and the NSC is supposed to make sure that presidential decisions are indeed carried out. The NSC can’t fulfill its mission if dissenting views aren’t heard. Of late, dissenters have been fired, and the boss insists that the survivors toe his line.

2a)McMaster and the Commander

The NSC adviser is the latest target of Steve Bannon’s media friends.

By The Editorial Board
Chief of Staff John Kelly is by all accounts imposing more discipline in the Trump White House, but a mini-drama of the last week shows there’s still more clean-up duty to be done. To wit, notice the alt-right brigades who seem to rise up as if on call to smite some White House policy opponent of aide Steve Bannon.
The latest target has been H.R. McMaster, the three-star general who took over as national security adviser after President Trump fired Michael Flynn. Lt. Gen. McMaster has come in for abuse for favoring more troops and a new strategy in Afghanistan, for warning that Vladimir Putin is no friend of America, and for advising that Mr. Trump not precipitously withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. He also recently dismissed some NSC staff members who were brought on by Mr. Flynn and are said to be allies of Mr. Bannon.
Policy brawls are routine in any White House, and Lt. Gen. McMaster can surely handle his corner. The issue for Mr. Kelly—and Mr. Trump—is what to do when disagreement inside the White House turns into vilification of his staff from the outside.
Somehow the Bannon brigades outside the White House decided to assail the general as insufficiently pro-Israel and not hostile enough to Islamic State, among other calumnies. The latter is especially preposterous since then Colonel McMaster developed the counter-insurgency strategy in Tal Afar that was the prototype for the 2007 “surge” that won the Iraq War.
Mr. Trump issued a statement of support for Lt. Gen. McMaster late on Friday, which in a better White House would settle the matter. But rather than question the general’s loyalties, perhaps Mr. Kelly should question Mr. Bannon’s. The former Breitbart publisher has been a White House survivor, but his warring habits have also been responsible for much of the White House dysfunction.
Mr. Trump may worry about the damage Mr. Bannon and his allies could do to his Administration if he is no longer part of the White House team. But if his minions continue to vilify his colleagues inside the White House, how can anyone tell the difference?

2b) Congressman reveals the name of the Deep State operative undermining Trump
The Deep State is out to stop Donald Trump.
But these saboteurs have remained nameless by operating in the shadows.


Putin’s Goal: Revenge and Restoration

What ties hacking and election meddling to Syria and Ukraine? A nostalgia for Soviet-era power.

By Leon Aron

As the Russian hacking and “collusion” sagas consume Washington elites and the media, a more important question has gone unanswered: Why is Vladimir Putin engaging in such activity, and what should Americans expect next?

By temperament and KGB training, Mr. Putin is not an easy man to read. Secrecy is an integral part of the regime he has forged, as in all authoritarian states. Yet surmise about his motives and goals we must, since the alternative is to be unpleasantly surprised every time he acts.

“Who is Mr. Putin?” was the refrain in the early 2000s after this obscure director of the FSB—the post-Soviet successor to the KGB—became first prime minister and then a phenomenally popular president. Seeking clues to his behavior, experts labeled him an “authoritarian modernizer,” a spy-agency “operative,” a “bureaucrat” and a Russian “nationalist.”

Yet what seemed to explain his policies most consistently was another gradually emerging identity: that of an ardent Soviet patriot. Mr. Putin’s speeches and off-the-cuff remarks seem to indicate that, unlike Western and Russian democrats, he never bought into the narrative that there were no winners in the Cold War. He appears to view the global order as unfair and immoral, having been hijacked by America. This conviction solidified in 2003 after the U.S. invaded Iraq. Then in 2011 the West helped topple Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, an intervention Mr. Putin likened to the Crusades.

The Russian president acts as if he imposed on himself a historical mission to rebalance the world’s “correlation of forces,” as the Soviets used to say in Brezhnev’s time. Resentment and restoration looked like his twin mottos. While leaving the door open to cooperation with the U.S. on antiterrorism, arms control and nuclear nonproliferation, Mr. Putin came to view the rest of geopolitics as largely a zero-sum game: If the West wins, Russia loses—and vice versa.

What happened during the 2016 presidential election, then, was not an anti-American one-off. It was part of a sustained policy, a tile in the giant geopolitical mosaic of Russian resurgence that Mr. Putin has set out to construct.

Moscow has perpetrated cyberwarfare, hacking, fake news and political interference for years. Last year, in addition to meddling in America’s election, Russia was behind an attempted coup d’├ętat in Montenegro meant to prevent it from joining NATO. Since 2007, Russia has hacked the servers of government, industrial or financial institutions in Estonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Ukraine. The International Olympic Committee and unclassified computers at the U.S. State Department have been attacked as well. Now Germany’s leaders are alarmed enough about potential interference in their September parliamentary elections to have issued stern warnings to Moscow.

Judging by all this—and especially by what followed Mr. Putin’s election to a third term in 2012—his overarching foreign-policy objective is to weaken Western democratic institutions and alliances by relentlessly chipping away at their legitimacy and popular support. His answer to the Russian saying protiv kogo my za? (“against whom are we for?”) looked more and more like “against the West!” and “for Russia!” Mr. Putin would avenge the Soviet Union’s fall and lead Russia to reclaim its glory as a geopolitical, military, and moral counterbalance to the U.S.

His policies bear out this reading: Ukraine wants to join Europe? This would be a gain for the West (Mr. Putin once called Ukraine “NATO’s Foreign Legion”) and must be reversed by seizing Crimea and initiating a proxy war. The U.S. wants to remove Bashar Assad from power in Syria and supports pro-Western rebels? Russia will ally with America’s sworn enemy, Iran, to keep Mr. Assad in power. Hillary Clinton is likely to be elected president? Moscow must find and release kompromat (compromising materials) to hobble her campaign and delegitimize the election.

This is a dangerous game. At home Mr. Putin has come to depend on foreign-policy successes and military triumphs for his legitimacy. The Russian economy is stagnant, incomes are falling, poverty is up, and revulsion at the regime’s corruption is widespread and intense. The next presidential election comes in March, and Mr. Putin’s victory is assured, but he wants more than a win. He wants a resounding affirmation of his popularity, an outpouring of loyalty and adulation that can carry his regime through the next six years.

Russian proxies have upped their attacks on Ukrainian troops since last month’s Trump-Putin summit in Hamburg. Another catalyst for Russian patriotic hysteria could be Belarus, a “fraternal Slavic state,” which would be “saved” from imminent NATO conquest by valiant Russian soldiers and local “patriots.”

But the largest score would be to invade, most likely by proxy, Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania, thereby exposing NATO as a paper tiger, unable or unwilling to mount a military response. As the world passes the 55th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis, Mr. Putin may overreach and miscalculate, bringing Russia and the U.S. to the brink of war, just as Nikita Khrushchev did.

Addiction to victories must be among the hardest habits to break. Doubly so if one perceives them, as Mr. Putin does, as a means to right an enormous wrong done to his country—and to remain in power. America’s newly adopted anti-Russian sanctions, though morally correct and damaging in the long term, will not change Mr. Putin’s strategy today. If anything, he could up the ante.

The West’s best option, the only one that has a chance of forcing Mr. Putin to abandon his zero-sum game of revenge and restoration, is to engineer for him unambiguous setbacks and reversals—in Ukraine, Syria and wherever else he chooses to go next. If only the West can muster the will.

Mr. Aron is director of Russian studies at the American Enterprise Institute.


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