Ignoring The Law Because You Think You Can

On Tuesday, CNS News reported the following:

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) confirmed Tuesday that he met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on the sidelines of a security conference in Germany at the weekend, justifying his decision to do so by saying that “if [President] Trump isn’t going to talk to Iran, then someone should.”

There is little doubt that Iran is an enemy of America. Why is a member of Congress meeting with their Foreign Minister?

The article continues:

Murphy said he also wanted to request the Iranian regime’s help in bringing the civil war in Yemen to an end; and to push for the release of Americans incarcerated in Iran.

“I don’t know whether my visit with Zarif will make a difference. I’m not the President or the Secretary of State – I’m just a rank and file U.S. Senator,” Murphy wrote.

“I cannot conduct diplomacy on behalf of the whole of the U.S. government, and I don’t pretend to be in a position to do so.”

“But if Trump isn’t going to talk to Iran, then someone should. And Congress is a co-equal branch of government, responsible along with the Executive for setting foreign policy. A lack of dialogue leaves nations guessing about their enemy’s intentions, and guessing wrong can lead to catastrophic mistakes.”

Senator Murphy may consider Congress a ‘co-equal branch of government,’ but the President is the person who conducts foreign policy. Congressmen on their own do not have that authority.

The article concludes:

The 1799 Logan Act prohibits unauthorized persons from negotiating with foreign governments which have a dispute with the United States. No-one has been convicted for violating the act.

In 2015, 47 Republican senators signed a letter to the Iranian regime suggesting that a nuclear agreement between President Obama and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei would be an executive agreement which another president or Congress would be empowered to abrogate.

The initiative prompted some critics to invoke the Logan Act.

Among the Democrats who condemned the letter was Murphy, who accused the signatories of “undermining the president.”

“I can’t even imagine the uproar if Democratic senators [had been] writing to Saddam Hussein in the lead up to the Iraq War,” Murphy told the National Journal at the time.

I guess that was then and this is now. It’s amazing how quickly the rules change for the Democrats.

Hungary Steps Up To The Plate

The Gatestone Institute posted an article today about Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is the only European leader who is willing to protect the persecuted Christians fleeing the Muslim onslaught in the Middle East. Please follow the link above to read the entire article. It gives detailed information about what is currently happening to Christians in the Middle East.

The article reports:

  • “Those we are helping now can give us the greatest help in saving Europe. We are giving persecuted Christians what they need: homes, hospitals, and schools, and we receive in return what Europe needs most: a Christian faith, love and perseverance”. — Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Daily News Hungary, November 28, 2019.
  • “Our estimation is that more than 90 percent of Christian have already left Iraq and almost 50 percent of Christians in Syria have left the country”. — Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church.
  • European leaders, rather than being embarrassed, should make the condition of Christians under Islam the starting point of their conversations with Muslims.
  • “The fate of Eastern Christians and other minorities is the prelude to our own fate.” — Former French Prime Minister François Fillon, Valeurs Actuelles, December 12, 2019.

The article notes that western countries are not reacting to the plight of Christians in the Middle East.

The article reports:

In Europe, however, there is a solitary defender of persecuted Christians: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, whom the mainstream media love to peck at and attack. No other European government has invested so much money, public diplomacy and time on this topic. Writing in Foreign Policy, Peter Feaver and Will Inboden explain that aid to Christians come from “a few international relief organizations like the Knights of Columbus and Aid to the Church in Need, and the Hungarian government”. The Knights of Columbus alone raised $2 million to rebuild the Christian Iraqi town of Karamlesh.

“Those we are helping now can give us the greatest help in saving Europe,” Orbán recently said at an international conference, On Christian Persecution 2019, that he organized in Budapest. “We are giving persecuted Christians what they need: homes, hospitals, and schools, and we receive in return what Europe needs most: a Christian faith, love and perseverance”. “Europe is quiet,” Orbán went on. “A mysterious force shuts the mouths of European politicians and cripples their arms.” He said the issue of Christian persecution could only be considered a human rights issue in Europe. He insisted that “Christians are not allowed to be mentioned on their own, only together with other groups that are being persecuted for their faiths.” The persecution of Christians “is therefore folded into the diverse family of persecuted religious groups”.

According to Tristan Azbej, Hungary’s State Secretary for the Aid to Persecuted Christians, Orbán’s is the first European government to have a special State Secretariat “which has only one duty: To look after and monitor the destiny and the situation of the Christian communities all over the world, and if there is a need, we help.”

All western nations need to take part in saving the Christians that are being killed or marginalized in the Middle East. Some of the world’s most ancient Christian communities have been destroyed in the past few years. Western countries need to give these endangered minorities priority status in their refugee programs.

A New Role For America

Yahoo Finance is reporting today that America has posted its first full month as a net exporter of crude and petroleum products since government records began in 1949.

The article reports:

The nation exported 89,000 barrels a day more than it imported in September, according to data from the Energy Information Administration Friday. While the U.S. has previously reported net exports on a weekly basis, today’s figures mark a key milestone that few would have predicted just a decade ago, before the onset of the shale boom.

President Donald Trump has touted American energy independence, saying that the nation is moving away from relying on foreign oil. While the net exports show decreasing reliance on imports, the U.S. still continues to buy heavy crude oil from other nations to meet the needs of its refineries. It also buys refined products when they are available for a lower cost from foreign suppliers.

“The U.S. return to being a net exporter serves to remind how the oil industry can deliver surprises — in this case, the shale oil revolution – that upend global oil prices, production, and trade flows,” said Bob McNally, a former energy adviser to President George W. Bush and president of the consulting firm Rapidan Energy Group.

Soaring output from shale deposits led by the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico has been in main driver of the transition — but America’s status as a net exporter may be fragile. Many Texas wildcatters are predicting a rapid decline in production growth next year, while some Democratic contenders for the White House have called for a ban on fracking — the controversial drilling technique that unleashed the boom.

The article concludes:

Analysts at Rystad Energy said this week the U.S. is only months away from achieving energy independence, citing surging oil and gas output as well as the growth of renewables.

“Going forward, the United States will be energy independent on a monthly basis, and by 2030 total primary energy production will outpace primary energy demand by about 30%,” said Sindre Knutsson, vice president of Rystad Energy’s gas markets team.

So what does energy independence mean? It means that our foreign policy is no longer determined by our energy needs, but by forming alliances with countries with similar goals. It means that a change in the world production of oil will not result in the gas lines we saw in America in the 1970’s. It means that if Russia plays politics with the energy it supplies to Europe, we have the ability to step in and fill the need–ending the constant threat that Russia will cut off Europe’s fuel supply in the dead of winter. It means that in case of war, our ships and airplanes will have the fuel they need to fight.

Energy independence is a big deal. It is a goal that was seemingly unachievable until President Trump made it a priority. Thank you, Mr. President.

The Positive Impact Of President Trump’s Foreign Policy

The Gatestone Institute posted an article today about the impact of President Trump’s foreign policy on Iran. The article reminds us that because of the Trump administration’s decision not to extend its waiver for Iran’s eight biggest oil buyers; China, India, Greece, Italy, Taiwan, Japan, Turkey and South Korea, the economy of Iran is shrinking rapidly. Because of this, Iran is not able to fund terrorist groups at previous levels.

The article reports:

Before the US Department of Treasury leveled secondary sanctions against Iran’s oil and gas sectors, Tehran was exporting over two million barrel a day of oil. Currently, Tehran’s oil export has gone down to less than 200,000 barrel a day, which represents a decline of roughly 90% in Iran’s oil exports.

Iran has the second-largest natural gas reserves and the fourth-largest proven crude oil reserves in the world, and the sale of these resources account for more than 80 percent of its export revenues. The Islamic Republic therefore historically depends heavily on oil revenues to fund its military adventurism in the region and sponsor militias and terror groups. Iran’s presented budget in 2019 was nearly $41 billion, while the regime was expecting to generate approximately $21 billion of it from oil revenues. This means that approximately half of Iran’s government revenue comes from exporting oil to other nations.

Even though Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, boasts about the country’s self-sufficient economy, several of Iran’s leaders recently admitted the dire economic situation that the government is facing. Speaking in the city of Kerman on November 12, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani acknowledged for the first time that “Iran is experiencing one of its hardest years since the 1979 Islamic revolution” and that “the country’s situation is not normal.”

The result of this is protests and demonstrations against the government.

The article reports:

Iran’s national currency, the rial, also continues to lose value: it dropped to historic lows. One US dollar, which equaled approximately 35,000 rials in November 2017, now buys you nearly 110,000 rials.

In addition, the Islamic Republic appears to be scrambling to compensate for the loss of revenues it is encountering. A few days ago, for example, Iran’s leaders tripled the price of gasoline. It appears a sign of desperation to generate revenues in order to fund their military adventurism in the region and support their proxies and terror groups.

This increase immediately led people to rise up against the government. In the last few days, several Iranian cities have become the scenes of widespread protests and demonstrations. The protests first erupted in Ahvaz and then spread to many other cities in the Khuzestan province as well as in the capital Tehran, and Kermanshah, Isfahan, Tabriz, Karadj, Shiraz, Yazd, Boushehr, Sari, Khorramshahr, Andimeshk, Dezful, Behbahan and Mahshahr.

Tehran’s diminishing resources have also caused Iranian leaders to cut funds to the Palestinian terror group Hamas and the Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah. Hamas was forced to introduce “austerity plans” while Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, has also called on his group’s fundraising arm “to provide the opportunity for jihad with money and also to help with this ongoing battle.”

The economic weapon being wielded by President Trump appears to be the safest way to deal with Iran. War would not be a good option, but economic war has at least a possibility of being successful.

Is There Anyone Honest In This Farce?

Breitbart posted an article today about Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s testimony. The article cites an obvious lie in the official summary of President Trump’s phone call to Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The article reports:

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman admitted he made up elements of President Donald Trump’s call with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky in an official summary.

Prior to the call, Vindman included a discussion about corruption in the talking points provided to the president but Trump did not use them in the call.

The summary Vindman wrote after the call read:

President Trump underscored the unwavering support of the United States for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity – within its internationally recognized borders – and expressed his commitment to work together with President-elect Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people to implement reforms that strengthen democracy, increase prosperity, and root out corruption.

However, when he testified, Lt. Col. Vindman admitted that the part about rooting out corruption was not actually in the call–they were in his talking points provided to the President.

This is consistent with the actions of Lt. Col Vindman–sources have revealed that the reason he was concerned about the call was that his talking points were not followed. It is becoming apparent that the man is behaving like a spoiled child who is unhappy because someone didn’t listen to him.

Do we have to remind the entire State Department that the President is the person who sets foreign policy? I realize that a President only serves for four or eight years, but during those years, he is in charge. If State Department employees cannot grasp that concept, they need to find another employer.

Some Common Sense From The State Department

Yesterday Paul Mirengoff at Power Line Blog posted an article about a recent statement of policy by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The article reports:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared today that the U.S. does not regard Israeli settlements on the West Bank as illegal. He thus reversed the position taken by former Secretary of State John Kerry in the dying days of the Obama administration.

Pompeo explained that, after carefully studying the issue, he concluded that President Reagan got it right when he found that the settlements are not illegal. Reagan had reversed the position taken by the Carter administration.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and Benny Gantz both support this move.

The article also notes:

Caroline Glick views Pompeo’s statement as a diplomatic turning point. She writes:

Pompeo’s statement is first and foremost an extraordinary gesture of support for Israel and the rights of the Jewish people on the part of President Donald Trump and his administration. But from a U.S. perspective, it also represents a key advance in Trump’s realist foreign policy.

Since taking office, Trump has worked consistently to align U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and beyond to the world as it is, rather than to the world as “experts” imagine it to be. In the Middle East, this realignment of U.S. policy has provided the nations of the region – including Israel and the Palestinians – with the first chance of reaching genuine peace they have ever had.

I doubt that the Palestinians have any desire for genuine peace, and therefore doubt that Pompeo’s statement will move the parties closer to such a peace. However, I agree with Glick that Pompeo’s realism (and President Trump’s) about West Bank settlements is a prerequisite for real progress in any meaningful peace process.

Another thing that needs to be considered is that the ‘settlements’ are not really settlements–they are thriving communities that include hospitals, schools, and infrastructure. We have learned from experience that when the so-called Palestinians are given territory they do not built infrastructure–they use whatever financial aid they are given to build terrorist tunnels and buy rockets and ammunition. Until that changes, I see no point in negotiating to give any territory to them.

 

The Mainstream Media vs. The Truth

Yesterday Newsbusters posted an article highlighting more dishonest reporting from The New York Times.

The article reports:

Seven weeks ago, after the White House released its official summary of a July 25 phone call between President Trump and the Ukrainian President, the New York Times noted that the two had previously spoken on April 21 and wrote the following about that conversation:

When Ukraine elected its new leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, on April 21, Mr. Trump seized on the moment as an opportunity to press his case….He urged Mr. Zelensky to coordinate with Mr. Giuliani and to pursue investigations of “corruption,” according to people familiar with the call, the details of which have not previously been reported.

On Friday morning, the White House released its official summary of that earlier call, and it completely debunked the Times reporting that appeared in a front-page September 26 article. The official summary shows a light-hearted conversation about Zelensky’s election victory, Trump’s promise that a “very, very high level” delegation would attend his inauguration, and an invitation for Zelensky to visit the White House.

There’s not the slightest indication that he “seized on the moment as an opportunity to press his case,” nor any reference to Joe Biden, Rudy Giuliani, or anything else suggested in the Times story.

The Times account of the today’s White House release is silent on the Times earlier, apparently false reporting. But it does complain about how “a White House readout of the call in April provides a different account.”

Reporters Mark Mazzetti and Eileen Sullivan point out: “In that summary, provided to reporters shortly after the call took place, the administration said that Mr. Trump promised to work with Zelensky to ‘implement reforms that strengthen democracy, increase prosperity and root out corruption.’”

Indeed, today’s White House release does contradict the White House report released at the time of the call, but the erroneous September 26 Times’ story does not rely on the “readout” as the basis for its wrong claims, but rather “people familiar with the call.”

In other words, the Times can’t blame the White House for its mistake in September. That’s all on them, and their anonymous source. (Maybe secret sources aren’t the best sources after all.)

There is agreement that there was corruption in Ukraine. There is also agreement that the corruption needed to be cleaned up.

A friend of mine who is a lawyer who follows these events very closely recently wrote:

Then I discovered that the day after VP Joe Biden bribed the Ukraine government into firing the Prosecutor who was investigating his son’s company, the Ukraine court released $23 million the government had seized as part of the investigation. Nobody knows what happened to the $23 million.

What we do know is the $23 million was part of the $50 Million in USAid that 26 Democrats shepherded through the United States Congress in 2014. All 26 received campaign contributions from Ukraine’s new lobbyist: Secretary of State John Kerry’s former chief of staff. How dare the President look into changing the USA’s foreign Policy!

Do you really wonder where the missing money ended up?

Maybe it’s time to take a really good look at where our foreign aid actually goes.

Why Does The Establishment (Republicans and Democrats) Hate Donald Trump?

Yesterday Victor Davis Hanson posted an article at American Greatness titled, “Why Do They Hate Him So?” The article analyzes the reasons that President Trump is opposed by both the political left and the establishment right.

The article states:

Again, why the unadulterated hatred? For the small number of NeverTrumpers, of course, Trump’s crudity in speech and crassness in manner nullify his accomplishments: the unattractive messenger has fouled an otherwise tolerable message.

While they recognize in the abstract that the randy JFK, the repugnant LBJ, and the horny Bill Clinton during their White House tenures were far grosser in conduct than has been Donald Trump, they either assume presidential ethics should have evolved or they were not always around to know of past bad behavior first hand, or believe Trump’s crude language is worse than prior presidents’ crude behavior in office.

The article continues:

Had Donald Trump in his first month as president declared that he was a centrist Republican —as many suspicious Never Trumpers predicted that he would, true to past form—and promoted cap-and-trade and solar and wind federal subsidies, tabled pipeline construction and abated federal leasing for gas and oil production, stayed in the Iran nuclear deal and Paris Climate Accord, appointed judges in the tradition of John Paul Stevens and David Souter, praised the “responsible” Palestinian leaders, pursued “comprehensive immigration reform” as a euphemism for blanket amnesties, then Trump would be treated largely as a George H.W. Bush or George W. Bush: hated, of course, but not obsessively so.

More importantly, had Trump just collapsed or stagnated the economy, as predicted by the likes of Paul Krugman and Larry Summers, he would now be roundly denounced, but again not so vilified, given his political utility for the Left in 2020 as a perceived Herbert Hoover-esque scapegoat.

Had Trump kept within the media and cultural sidelines by giving interviews to “60 Minutes,” speaking at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, bringing in a few old Republican hands to run the staff or handle media relations like a David Gergen or Andrew Card, Trump would have been written off as a nice enough dunce.

But Trump did none of that. So, the hatred of the media, the Left, the swamp, and the celebrity industry is predicated more on the successful Trump agenda. He is systematically undoing what Barack Obama wrought, in the manner Obama sought to undo with his eight years the prior eight years of George W. Bush.

But whereas the Obama economy stagnated and his foreign policy was seen by adversaries and rivals as a rare occasion to recalibrate the world order at American’s expense, Trump mostly did not fail—at least not yet. We are currently in an economic boom while most of the world economy abroad is inert. Had the economy just crashed as predicted, the Trump agenda would have been discredited and he would be written off a pitiful fool rather than an existential monster.

Again, hatred arises at what Trump did even more than what he says or how he says it.

The obvious conclusion:

The bipartisan Washington establishment? If an outsider Manhattan wheeler-dealer without military or political experience can at last call an appeased China to account, can avoid a Libyan fiasco, can acknowledge that America is tired of a 18-year slog in Afghanistan when others would not, or believes ISIS thrived as a result of prior arcane restrictive U.S. rules of engagement—and he is proven largely right—then what does that say about the credentialed experts who dreamed up the bipartisan conventional wisdom that with a few more concessions China would eventually become Palo Alto or that Libya would bloom at the heart of the Arab Spring?

The Left detests Trump for a lot of reasons besides winning the 2016 election and aborting the progressive project. But mostly they hate his guts because he is trying and often succeeding to restore a conservative America at a time when his opponents thought that the mere idea was not just impossible but unhinged.

And that is absolutely unforgivable.

Be prepared for a very nasty year before the election in 2020. There are a lot of very unhinged people in politics and in the media.

Some Random Thoughts On The Troop Withdrawal

According to conservative news sources, the troop withdrawal from the Turkish border is simply moving fifty troops–it is not a withdrawal. I wish it were a withdrawal, we are not currently capable of fighting a war right now–we are unable to unite and focus on the job at hand.

Yesterday The Federalist posted an article about the dust-up.

The article notes:

Congress is the institution vested with the power to declare wars, to debate where we send troops, and decide which conflicts are funded. Presidents have been ignoring this arrangement, abuse authorizations for the use of military force (AUMFs), and imbue themselves with the power to engage in conflicts wherever they like, without any coherent endgame, and without any buy-in from Congress.

Congress, in turn, has shown no interest in genuinely challenging executive power, because its members are far more concerned with political self-preservation. Ignoring abuse shields them from tough choices and ensuing criticism—even as they use war as a partisan cudgel.

Even if you don’t believe all these conflicts rise to an Article I declaration, and I don’t, the more accountability there is in foreign entanglements the better. Right now we have little genuine debate or consensus building—in a nation that already exhibits exceptionally little interest in foreign policy—regarding the deployment of our troops, almost always in perpetuity, around the world.

It’s a bipartisan problem. Barack Obama, whose political star rose due to his opposition to the Iraq war, was perhaps our worst offender, circumventing Congress and relying on a decade-old AUMF (authorizations for the use of military force), which he invoked 19 times during his presidency, to justify a half-hearted intervention against ISIS (not al-Qaeda) in Syria (not Afghanistan.)

The article notes that military overreach is a problem in both parties:

It’s a bipartisan problem. Barack Obama, whose political star rose due to his opposition to the Iraq war, was perhaps our worst offender, circumventing Congress and relying on a decade-old AUMF, which he invoked 19 times during his presidency, to justify a half-hearted intervention against ISIS (not al-Qaeda) in Syria (not Afghanistan.)

Trump could bomb Iran tomorrow, use Obama’s reasoning, and have a far stronger legal defense for his actions.

It was also Obama who joined Europeans in the failed intervention in Libya, where he worked under NATO goals rather than the United States law. There was hardly a peep from Democrats fretting over the corrosion of the Constitution.

American would function much more efficiently if our Congressmen and President would simply follow the U.S. Constitution. At this point I am not sure many of them have read it–although they did take an oath to uphold it.

When You Poke The Bear

There were two articles posted at The Federalist yesterday (here and here) about the current circus in the House of Representatives. I suspect this is not going exactly the way the Democrats had intended.

The first article notes:

In tense testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) on Friday, the inspector general for federal spy agencies refused to disclose why his office backdated secret changes to key whistleblower forms and rules in the wake of an anti-Trump whistleblower complaint filed in August, sources told The Federalist.

As The Federalist reported and the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) confirmed, the spy watchdog secretly changed its whistleblower forms and internal rules in September to eliminate a requirement that whistleblowers provide first-hand evidence to support any allegations of wrongdoing. In a press release last week, the ICIG confessed that it changed its rules in response to an anti-Trump complaint filed on August 12. That complaint, which was declassified and released by President Donald Trump in September, was based entirely on second-hand information, much of which was shown to be false following the declassification and release of a telephone conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The first article concludes:

Several top lawmakers in the Senate raised similar concerns about Atkinson’s behavior in a separate letter.

“Why did the IC IG initially require first-hand information in its May 2018 disclosure form?” the senators asked. “Why did the IC IG remove the requirement for first-hand information?”

Atkinson has not answered their questions, either, raising questions that his behavior following his receipt of the anti-Trump complaint might not be completely above board. Atkinson ignored legal guidance from both the director of national intelligence and the Department of Justice that the anti-Trump complaint was statutorily deficient and forwarded it to HPSCI even though it did not meet the legal definition of an “urgent concern” that is required to be given to Congress.

The embattled ICIG also admitted on Friday that the anti-Trump complainant lied on his whistleblower complaint form by concealing the complainant’s previous secret interactions with House Democratic staff prior to submitting the complaint. Atkinson never even bothered investigating potential coordination between the complainant, whom DOJ said showed evidence of partisan political bias, and House Democrats prior to the filing of the anti-Trump complaint.

The second article is more of a history of the entire Ukraine scandal. It mentions the fact that there are genuine concerns about Ukraine interference in the 2016 American presidential election.

The second article also suggests some motivation behind this current circus:

The Democrats’ case for impeachment is hopeless, but their motivation is simple. They whipped up their base into such a delusional frenzy during the “Russia investigation,” they have to keep the narrative going at all costs. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi faces a rebellion from her caucus if she doesn’t go along with it.

There may be a more serious motivation behind this:

But there’s a group of intelligence bureaucrats at work here, and their motivation is a bit different. An immediate motive may be to prevent an investigation into how the Russia probe started. This includes an investigation into how a document the Hillary Clinton campaign created — using anonymous Russians and a British national tied to Russia — was used by our intelligence agencies to investigate Trump.

The other possible motivation is more complex. During the “Russia investigation,” many in the intelligence agencies worked to subvert Trump’s foreign policy and remove Trump, through spying, a large series of leaks, and articles planted with friendly outlets. Trump’s campaign was even spied on before the election, via something called the “two-hop rule,” once a secret court granted a warrant to spy on Trump campaign officials such as Carter Page.

Because of this, the White House moved to cut off the broader “intelligence community” — inexorably tied to America’s foreign policy establishment that Trump ran against — from information the White House knew many in the intelligence agencies would use to selectively leak.

That could mean some of what’s going on today, at least from the CIA angle, is intelligence bureaucrats “striking back” because they lost their access to diplomatic communications, a coveted source of the intelligence community’s power. But even the Obama administration liked to hide diplomatic calls from the broader intelligence community, which should tell us something about that bureaucracy.

The second article includes the following statement:

In other words, the real big takeaway here is that we have a problem with our Washington bureaucracy, including our intelligence agencies, which have routinely crossed the line into policymaking. How much of the impeachment mess is due to CIA bureaucrats being incensed that Trump, who is elected, would dare to question military aid to Ukraine, and would dare to curtail their eavesdropping on diplomacy?

What we see here is an illustration of the reason why we need to drain the swamp.

If You Wondered Why Energy Independence Is Important

The Wall Street Journal posted an article yesterday about the drone attack on Saudi oil fields. The Iran-allied Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen have claimed credit for the attack.

The article reports:

The production shutdown amounts to a loss of about 5.7 million barrels a day, the kingdom’s national oil company said, roughly 5% of the world’s daily production of crude oil.

Officials said they hoped to restore production to its regular level of 9.8 million barrels a day by Monday. Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said lost production would be offset through supplies of oil already on hand.

The strikes mark the latest in a series of attacks on the country’s petroleum assets in recent months, as tensions rise among Iran and its proxies like the Houthis, and the U.S. and partners like Saudi Arabia. The attacks could drive up oil prices if the Saudis can’t turn production back on quickly and potentially rattle investor confidence in an initial public offering of Saudi Aramco, the national oil company.

The article concludes:

The Yemen war is a central front in a new and more aggressive foreign policy overseen by Prince Mohammed, who launched the intervention with a coalition of allied states in 2015. Under the prince’s watch, the kingdom also applied a blockade on neighboring Qatar, detained Lebanon’s prime minister, and sent a team of men to kill exiled journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in 2018.

A conservative kingdom with a Sunni Muslim majority, Saudi Arabia has been an opponent of Iran in a struggle for power across the broader Middle East since the 1979 revolution that toppled Iran’s monarchy.

The attacks on Aramco’s facilities are poorly timed for Aramco’s coming IPO and pose a challenge to oil officials after a changing of the guard in their leadership. Aramco last week picked seven international banks to help it list on Saudi Arabia’s domestic exchange, an IPO that could value the company at about $2 trillion dollars and come before the end of the year.

There are a lot of things going on behind the scenes here. This is part of the conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. At their core, both the Saudis and the Iranians want to bring back the former caliphate. The Ottoman Empire (which was that caliphate) existed until the early 1900’s. Many Muslims want that Empire restored. The argument is over who will rule the caliphate when it is established. Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood are players in this conflict, as is ISIS. Jamal Khashoggi was a part of the Muslim Brotherhood. Descriptions of him as simply a journalist were misleading. Another part of this puzzle is the fact that Saudi Arabia is drawing closer to aligning with Israel because of the fear of a nuclear Iran. That also would be a cause for increased aggression from Iran.

Generally speaking, any terrorism that goes on in the Middle East can be traced back to Iran. They have been training and funding terrorists since the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

I have no idea what impact this will have on world oil prices. I do know that Saudi Arabia will work to repair the damage as soon as possible. I have no doubt that Iran is violating the sanctions on its oil exports, so if the price of oil rises significantly, Iran may be able to pull itself out of its current economic difficulties and calm its population. America will continue to prosper as oil prices rise because we are now a net exporter of oil rather than a net importer. Because of the policies of President Trump, we are in a very different situation than we were during the oil crisis of the 1970’s.

The Coming Election Impacts Foreign Policy

Yesterday The Washington Free Beacon posted an article about China’s plans to influence the 2020 presidential election.

The article reports:

In his conversation with Levin, Gertz (Washington Free Beacon senior writer Bill Gertz) reflected on his interview with Guo, who told Gertz earlier this week that the Chinese government has been deploying a prolonged campaign to defeat President Donald Trump in 2020. Gertz asserted the Chinese government may try to wait out Trump’s time in office so it can negotiate trade deals with a new Democratic president if Trump loses in 2020.

Trump announced Thursday he would impose an additional 10-percent tariff on certain Chinese exports as a trade agreement between the United States and China has yet to materialize.

“The China threat to me is the most serious threat facing the country,” Gertz told Levin.

He pointed to the economic integration between the U.S and China and how those relationships make it difficult for lawmakers and military officials to address Chinese aggression head-on, which he referred to as “an existential threat.”

The article concludes:

“There’s a major push right now to try and build up of American courses in Asia so we won’t have to go to war with China,” Gertz said of the government’s efforts to deter a war hypothetical war with China.

Looking towards the presidential race, Gertz warned the Chinese government would prefer to have a Democrat in the White House.

“It’s going to be a huge problem if the Democrats retake the administration,” Gertz said, pointing to former Vice President Joe Biden’s recent downplaying of threat China poses to the United States.

Gertz pointed out that during the Obama presidency the Chinese government expanded their presence in Asian waterways, in addition to ramping up their theft of intellectual property from American companies and entrepreneurs.

This may be the reason the negotiations with China have become so difficult–China is waiting for a President who will cave into their demands. It is obvious that President Trump is not that person.

By undermining President Trump since he was elected, the Democrat party has made international trade negotiations much more difficult. Creating an even playing field in trade with China would result in continued growth of the United States economy. It is time to repair the damage bad trade deals have done in the past.

Foreign Policy Wisdom

The Center For Security Policy posted the following Secure Freedom Minute on July 26:

In recent days, fast-boats of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have seized oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz.  This action has followed a series of other direct and indirect Iranian provocations, including attacks on shipping, Saudi oil infrastructure and U.S. assets in Iraq.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a pair of Chinese long-range bombers joined two of their Russian counterparts and one of the Kremlin’s command-and-control aircraft in conducting a deliberate provocation in the airspace over islands claimed by South Korea and Japan. An extraordinary three hundred warning shots were fired in two separate instances before the intruders departed the area.

Make no mistake: These are probing actions designed to test the readiness and resolve of the United States and its allies. As with any bully, a failure to demonstrate both will result in more aggression worldwide.

This is a lesson we should have learned a long time ago.

Sometimes Getting Things Done Takes Time

The Daily Caller is reporting the following today: “Late-Night Deal Breaks Deadlock Over Natural Gas Exports. The Trump Administration Is Ecstatic.” Natural gas is one of the cleanest energy sources in the world. America has a lot of it. Exporting it will have financial and diplomatic rewards.

The article reports:

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) broke a two-year partisan deadlock Thursday night to approve a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in Louisiana.

Top Department of Energy (DOE) officials said this was a major breakthrough that will alleviate a growing problem for U.S. energy producers — a lack of export infrastructure.

“We have been promoting US energy around the world and today’s decision by the FERC is a very important one,” DOE Deputy Secretary Dan Brouillette told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an interview.

The Calcasieu Pass LNG export terminal is the first such project to get FERC approval in two years. Republican FERC commissioners Neil Chatterjee, the chairman, and Bernard McNamee worked with Democrat Cheryl LaFleur to hash out an agreement to get her support.

The article concludes:

FERC’s other Democratic commissioner Richard Glick opposed the terminal, arguing his colleagues were “deliberately ignoring the consequences that its actions have for climate change.”

The commission’s environmental review of Calcasieu Pass found the facility would emit roughly 3.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year — about 0.07 percent of total U.S. emissions.

Brouillette argued that while an individual LNG export terminal would emit greenhouse gases, it would help lower global emissions because countries want gas as an alternative to coal.

“To the extent that LNG is displacing coal around the world, we think the impact is going to be positive,” Brouillette said.

Brouillette also stressed the geopolitical implications of LNG exports and the role energy could play in President Donald Trump’s foreign policy.

“These are decisions that impact the President’s ability to make foreign policy decisions,” Brouillette told TheDCNF. “We get to assist Poland, we get to assist Lithuania, we get to assist the Baltic states.”

Energy independence for America is important, but it is also important to be able to export energy around the world when countries such as Russia threaten to shut down their energy pipelines in order the win political victories.

Misleading The Public About International Affairs

NBC News posted an article today about the relationship between President Trump and the nation of Turkey.

The article reports:

As Trump administration officials presided over the second day of an international conference in Warsaw dominated by calls to ratchet up pressure on Iran, one longtime U.S. ally and NATO member was noticeably absent — Turkey.

Snubbing the gathering in Poland, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday attended a rival conference in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, where he planned to meet his Russian and Iranian counterparts to work out a final settlement of the war in Syria.

The dueling summits illustrate President Donald Trump’s struggle to forge a united front against Iran, and reflect Turkey’s drift away from Washington as it finds common ground with Moscow and Tehran, experts and former officials said.

These three paragraphs are totally misleading and paint a negative picture of President Trump’ foreign policy that is totally inaccurate. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan became President of Turkey in 2014. He had previously served as Prime Minister from 2003 to 2014. As he moves Turkey in the direction of an Islamic State, it is only natural that his friendly relationship with America would deteriorate rapidly.

On July 28, 2014, The Jerusalem Post reported:

Harold Rhode, a senior fellow at the New-York-based Gatestone Institute and a former adviser on Islamic affairs in the office of the American secretary of defense, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview on Sunday that the real issue in the ongoing conflict is that Turkey and Qatar are supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas in their goals.

“[Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan has been associated with the Muslim Brotherhood long before he was prime minister,” Rhode said.

It should now be clear to all that Erdogan “is now out of the bag,” Rhode said, adding that US President Barack Obama does not speak to the Turkish leader anymore despite previously describing him as one of his closest friends among the world’s leaders.

“Erdogan is doing whatever he can to help Hamas,” he said, asserting that it will only hurt the Palestinian people in the end.

On January 7, 2019, Clare Lopez posted an article at the Center for Security Policy that stated:

As National Security Advisor John Bolton heads to Turkey today for discussions about President Trump’s announced decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syrian battle spaces, he might question Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about his expressed intent to re-establish the Ottoman Empire and how Erdogan calculates U.S. policy in the region to figure into that ambition.

He might cite from Erdogan’s February 2018 assertion that “modern Turkey is a ‘continuation’ of the Ottoman Empire,” or ask exactly what Erdogan meant when, in November 2018 he declared that “Turkey is bigger than Turkey; just know this. We cannot be trapped inside 780,000 kilometers [Turkey’s total area].” He might perhaps ask also what exactly Erdogan meant by threatening the U.S. with an “Ottoman Slap,” in reference to American support for Kurdish forces fighting against the Islamic State.

Then there was the November 2018 “International Islamic Union Congress,” held in Istanbul. Headed by Erdogan’s chief military advisor, Adnan Tanriverdi, the event’s participants endorsed the aim of “unity of Islam” through establishing the “Confederation of Islamic Countries.” It was not entirely clear how or if such a “Confederation” would differ from a Caliphate or Islamic State.

Clearly, U.S. objectives for the region are not the same as Turkey’s.

I don’t think President Trump is the problem in our relationship with Turkey.

American Sovereignty

Yesterday The Washington Times reported that the International Court of Justice has ordered the United States to lift some Iran sanctions. The Court wants to make sure that the people of Iran are not harmed by the sanctions. Does the Court want to set up another ‘oil for food’ program like the one in the 1990’s? It’s amazing how much money dishonest people made from that program while the people of Iraq starved. (article here)

First of all, what are the sanctions on Iran about? Iran is probably the largest source of money for terrorism in the world. Iran supplies weapons and military equipment to Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, the government of Syria, Palestinian terrorists, etc. It would be nice if Iran had a little less money to spread around. Iran has also partnered with North Korea and Russia in developing nuclear technology. This is not a country that is working toward peace.

There is also the matter of human rights abuses by the Iranian government. Homosexuals are dropped from buildings or worse. Dissidents are jailed and never heard from again. Fashion police roam the streets and beat women for being immodestly dressed. Human rights are not part of the Iranian government.

The sanctions are putting pressure on the regime. As the financial situation of the people worsens, they are rebelling against the totalitarian government. In this rebellion they have the support of America. If the International Court of Justice truly supported human rights and the humanitarian treatment of people, they would support the sanctions as a way to bring freedom to the people of Iran.

The article states:

The ICC’s David Scheffer responded in the Guardian by saying Bolton’s speech “isolates the United States from international criminal justice and severely undermines our leadership in bringing perpetrators of atrocity crimes to justice elsewhere in the world.”

Wahh.

In case the United Nations hadn’t noticed, this is the Donald Trump administration — not the Barack Obama wishy-washy White House. On globalism first, America second, this president doesn’t play that. MAGA, anyone?

The ICC, apparently, isn’t getting the message.

“The United Nations‘ highest court has ordered the United States to lift sanctions on Iran that affect imports of humanitarian goods and products and services linked to the safety of civil aviation,” NBC wrote.

And on that: “Ordered” seems a rather remarkable word. Better would be “begged.”

After all, what is the ICC to America? America may have helped establish this court back in 2002 — but that’s the extent of the relationship. America has not joined as a state party; the ICC does not dictate policy and procedure to the United States.

It’s almost a delicious anticipation to sit and wonder what Bolton will say to this ICC “order.”

Chances are, given his past and this administration’s bold “America First” dealings on the foreign policy front, it’ll be something like, Bite me, ICC.

That would be well stated, for sure.

I like having a President who not only stands up for American sovereignty, but is willing to support the quest for freedom in other countries.

A Perfect Job For A Creative Writer

Ben Rhodes has been described as an aspiring novelist who somehow became a major player in President Obama’s foreign policy. In May of last year, he gave an extended interview (my notes here) with The New York Times describing his part in selling the Iranian nuclear agreement to the American people.

The New York Times article states:

Rhodes singled out a key example to me one day, laced with the brutal contempt that is a hallmark of his private utterances. “All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus,” he said. “Now they don’t. They call us to explain to them what’s happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

Somehow that is not comforting.

Today The Daily Caller posted an article about Ben Rhodes’ new job:

Former White House aide Ben Rhodes, who served as Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and advised former President Barack Obama on foreign policy issues, will start his new job on Sunday as a politics contributor for MSNBC and NBC News.

MSNBC’s public relations department made the announcement on Twitter on Saturday, noting that Rhodes will make his official debut on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” and Monday’s “All In With Chris Hayes.”

I’m not holding my breath waiting for the time a true conservative shows up on MSNBC as a political contributor. The network is entitled to hire anyone they want, but the viewers need to be aware of the political leanings of the people who are designated as political contributors.

The Truth Begins To Leak Out

Fox News posted an article today about an interview former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel published Friday in Foreign Policy. The interview provided some insight into some of the decisions made in the Obama Administration during Secretary Hagel’s tenure.

The article reports:

The interview with Foreign Policy comes nearly a year after his acrimonious exit from the Obama administration. Still smarting from the circumstances of his departure, Hagel told Foreign Policy that the White House tried to “destroy” him even after he resigned.

The interview explored the tensions between Hagel and others on Obama’s team, but offered particularly revealing details about the backstory to the president’s decision backing off his “red line” with Assad.

The former Pentagon chief said that decision in 2013 dealt a big blow to U.S. credibility.

“Whether it was the right decision or not, history will determine that,” Hagel told Foreign Policy. “There’s no question in my mind that it hurt the credibility of the president’s word when this occurred.”

While it is well-known that Obama chose not to go forward with any military action against Assad in 2013 despite drawing that line – and instead pursued a diplomatic path to have Assad hand over his chemical weapons stockpile – Hagel described the military option as robust up until the moment Obama nixed it.

It will be interesting to see what papers will be made public when the Obama Administration opens its library. This administration has behaved like political thugs. They have politicized the justice department, the internal revenue, and anything else they touched. They have created a racial divide that has not existed in this country since the 1950’s. It will be interesting to see how transparent they will be with their internal records.

The Junior Varsity Has Become The Varsity

On Thursday, Foreign Policy magazine posted an article about a laptop computer found in an ISIS hideout. The computer was found by Abu Ali, a commander of a moderate Syrian rebel group in northern Syria.

The article reports:

As we switched on the Dell laptop, it indeed still worked. Nor was it password-protected. But then came a huge disappointment: After we clicked on “My Computer,” all the drives appeared empty.

Appearances, however, can be deceiving. Upon closer inspection, the ISIS laptop wasn’t empty at all: Buried in the “hidden files” section of the computer were 146 gigabytes of material, containing a total of 35,347 files in 2,367 folders. Abu Ali allowed us to copy all these files — which included documents in French, English, and Arabic — onto an external hard drive.

…The laptop’s contents turn out to be a treasure trove of documents that provide ideological justifications for jihadi organizations — and practical training on how to carry out the Islamic State‘s deadly campaigns. They include videos of Osama bin Laden, manuals on how to make bombs, instructions for stealing cars, and lessons on how to use disguises in order to avoid getting arrested while traveling from one jihadi hot spot to another.

Other things found on the computer included a 19-page document written in Arabic, explaining how to weaponize bubonic plague from invested animals and how to develop biological weapons. Lovely.

Also included on the laptop:

The laptop also includes a 26-page fatwa, or Islamic ruling, on the usage of weapons of mass destruction. “If Muslims cannot defeat the kafir [unbelievers] in a different way, it is permissible to use weapons of mass destruction,” states the fatwa by Saudi jihadi cleric Nasir al-Fahd, who is currently imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. “Even if it kills all of them and wipes them and their descendants off the face of the Earth.”

This is what we are up against. As unbelievers, we are supposed to be destroyed by the Muslims. It has nothing to do with what we do–it is because we are not Muslims. If we are willing to convert to Islam, our lives will be spared.

Negotiating with ISIS and its relatives is NOT an option.

The Cost Of Poliltical Partisanship

One of the problems in America right now is politicians who value their political party more than they value their country. As a result of that values system, statements from the other party that should be heeded are mocked and ignored. We saw this principle in action with Sarah Palin in the 2008 presidential campaign and with Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential campaign.

Breitbart.com posted an article yesterday reminding us of the events in 2008:

Palin said then:

After the Russian Army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama‘s reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia’s Putin to invade Ukraine next.

Levin (conservative talk radio host Mark Levin) said her comment was “dismissed as a very strange comment by the eggheads in and out of Washington.” And Levin mocked those who derided Palin for not thinking that “Russia’s our friend… they would never go into Ukraine.” As Breitbart News reported, Blake Hounshell, who was then at Foreign Policy magazine and is now at Politico, wrote that Palin’s comments were “strange.”

Her comments may have been “strange,” but they were obviously 100 percent accurate.

Breitbart further reminds us:

Because she was running on the Republican ticket, Sarah Palin’s comments were ignored and mocked. No one on the Democrat side of things was willing to listen to her.

When Mitt Romney ran against President Obama, something very similar happened. Steven Hayward at Power Line posted the story yesterday (along with the video):

John (John Hinderaker at Power Line) noted before how the Obama campaign attacked Mitt Romney in 2012 for saying Russia was our most important adversary, but it’s also worth taking in Obama mocking Romney in their third debate, saying that “the 1980s want their foreign policy back.”  That’s actually starting to sound pretty good.

I don’t know what difference it would have made if Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney had been listened to, but I can’t help but think that we would have been able to react in some way had we been prepared for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. One analyst I was listening to this morning felt that if America does not do something to help the Ukrainians, Russia will turn its sights to Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. The world is getting very complicated, and we have a President who is so convinced he knows everything that he is not paying attention to what is going on around him. Putin is playing chess and President Obama is playing checkers. President Obama needs to listen to people on both sides of the aisle–it might avoid some serious mistakes.

 

 

 

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Will We Have Any Friends Left In The World After Four Years Of Barack Obama ?

I am sure many countries in Eastern Europe cringed at President Obama’s open mike moment with Russian President Medvedev. The idea of President Obama becoming more flexible in his policies of missile defense is much scarier to those countries than it is to most Americans. They must be wondering how valuable friendship with America is. Now the Israelis must be wondering the same thing.

Fox News is reporting that John Bolton has accused the Obama Administration of leaking secret information about Israel in order to prevent Israel from attacking Iran this spring. Ambassador Bolton was responding to an article in Foreign Policy magazine that quoted government sources claiming Israel had been granted access to airfields in Azerbaijan — along Iran’s northern border. Azerbaijan would make strategic sense as a base for any Israeli operation against Iran.

Fox News reports:

The Foreign Policy article quoted what were identified as “high-level sources … inside the U.S. government.” It specifically mentioned “four senior diplomats and military intelligence officers.” 

One intelligence officer, who was unnamed, told the magazine that the U.S. was “watching” the activity and was “not happy about it.” 

The Foreign Policy article did not specify whether any of the information came from the White House, and there is no direct evidence that this was a coordinated leak.

“Clearly, this is an administration-orchestrated leak,” Bolton told FoxNews.com. “This is not a rogue CIA guy saying I think I’ll leak this out.” 

“It’s just unprecedented to reveal this kind of information about one of your own allies,” Bolton said. 

Would you  be friends with America after your secret information had been leaked?

 

 

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