03/23/17

Vetting Trump’s Foreign Policy Team

By: Roger Aronoff | Accuracy in Media

President Donald Trump fared much better in the House Intelligence Committee hearing on Monday than the left-wing, establishment media would have you believe. The American Spectator’s George Neumayr captured the essence of the findings: “…the core claim underlying Trump’s tweets is true: people acting on the authority of Obama opened an investigation into Trump’s campaign, then criminally leaked mention of it to friendly news outlets in an attempt to derail his election. When is Obama going to apologize for that?”

But for weeks now, CNN and MSNBC have been calling Trump a liar, saying that there is no evidence to support his tweets, and demanding that he back down and apologize for his accusations against former President Barack Obama.

But Trump is also taking hits from people who have generally supported him, but who feel he is failing to live up to his promises. One such example is a recent column by Ann Coulter, who criticizes Trump for supporting the Ryan-Trump American Health Care Act as the replacement for Obamacare, and for his slow start on getting control of the illegal alien issue and border security. Coulter says that “This is starting to look like every other Republican administration.” Yes, his administration is just two months old, so maybe it’s too early to judge on those issues.

Another issue that is raising concern is how Trump is doing on foreign policy and national security matters. Does President Trump need additional assistance in vetting his nominees to administration posts? An examination of his national security appointees raises the question of whether his team knows what questions to ask, and if they are properly vetting his staff.

The political activities of former Defense Intelligence Agency director Michael Flynn, who also served a short time as national security advisor to Trump, demonstrate the administration’s inadequate scrutiny. Flynn resigned for “withholding the full story of his communications with Russia’s ambassador,” reported The New York Times. But that wasn’t the end of the conflicts of interest. After leaving office, Flynn retroactively registered as a foreign agent working on behalf of Turkish interests; he had earned $530,000 for that work. If Trump’s team wasn’t aware of this, they should have been, just by paying attention to the public record, including a column that came out on Election Day that read like a paid advertorial for the Turkish government.

Although Flynn’s contract ended in November, the Times reported that a transition lawyer and a White House lawyer told Flynn that it was “up to him” whether to disclose his activities.

Trump’s pick for Defense Secretary, retired Marine General Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis, initially selected as undersecretary of defense for policy Anne Patterson, who inspired Egyptian protests due to her support for the Muslim Brotherhood. “She [Patterson] came under fire for cultivating too close a relationship with the regime and for discouraging protests against it—and White House officials are voicing concerns about those decisions now,” reports Politico. Criticism of Patterson, and an uncertain confirmation process, led Mattis to withdraw this nomination.

Personnel is policy, and Trump ultimately holds the reins of power in the administration—if he does not abdicate that responsibility. Calling on 46 U.S. attorneys to tender their resignation was a good first step, and in keeping with past presidents.

But President Trump has signaled his unwillingness to fill many of his political appointee posts. “A lot of those jobs, I don’t want to appoint, because they’re unnecessary to have,” Trump told Fox News. He continued, “You know, we have so many people in government, even me. I look at some of the jobs and it’s people over people over people. I say, ‘What do all these people do?’ You don’t need all those jobs.”

That’s clearly true, but unfortunately, when key personnel spots go unfulfilled, the administration is ceding power to the bureaucracy, which may, in turn, empower those still loyal to Obama and intent on crippling the Trump presidency. “If you don’t have a philosophy, if you don’t have a view, the risk is extraordinarily high that the bureaucracies at the State Department, the CIA, the Defense Department will co-opt the new secretary, the new head of the agency,” argued former UN ambassador John Bolton, speaking as a guest on the Breitbart News Daily show. “The bureaucracy’s policies will become their policy, and then if the White House doesn’t resist, they’ll become the administration’s policy.”

Lee Smith of The Weekly Standard wrote a much talked about piece last week for The Tablet titled, “Will Obama’s Foreign Policy Wizards Save Trump?” “What’s really bizarre is that the Trump team keeps blaming damaging leaks to the press on Obama holdovers—when the Trump team is hiring Obama holdovers,” writes Smith. “They may have caught Anne Patterson before she got past the velvet rope, but Obama people staff key positions elsewhere, on Israel, Iran, ISIS, and Syria issues. Which makes sense, since the policies they are tasked with carrying out are so far exactly the same as they were under Obama.”

By leaving in place Obama political appointees President Trump risks that these people will work to undermine his stated agenda. For example, Michael Ratney, former U.S. consul to Jerusalem, who Conservative Review describes as “one of John Kerry’s closest confidantes,” now heads “the Israeli-Palestinian portfolio at the State Department.”

Smith describes another Obama holdover, “Yael Lempert, a National Security Council staffer from the Obama administration that the Trump team decided to keep on.” Smith quotes a former Clinton official who said that Lempert “is considered one of the harshest critics of Israel on the foreign policy far left. From her position on the Obama NSC, she helped manufacture crisis after crisis in a relentless effort to portray Israel negatively and diminish the breadth and depth of our alliance. Most Democrats in town know better than to let her manage Middle East affairs. It looks like the Trump administration has no idea who she is or how hostile she is to the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

Are these rookie mistakes or does Trump not care if his campaign promises regarding Israel, combating the Islamic jihadis, and ripping up the Iran deal go unfulfilled? On the plus side, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is doing great things to re-define America’s role in that institution, after eight years of Susan Rice and Samantha Power occupying America’s seat at the UN.

Trump’s new national security advisor, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, has stated that he believes that radical Islamic terrorism is a perversion of Islam—not an outgrowth of the principles contained within that religion. The New York Times reports that McMaster “told his staff” that “‘radical Islamic terrorism’ was not helpful because terrorists are ‘un-Islamic.’” That newspaper heralded this as McMaster rejecting “a key ideological view of other senior Trump advisers and signaling a potentially more moderate approach to the Islamic world.” Trump himself doesn’t hesitate to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism.” Shouldn’t they be on the same page?

What this demonstrates, in fact, is McMaster’s blindness toward the roots of Islamic terror. As long as he remains the national security advisor to Trump, his rhetoric should be considered sanctioned by the administration.

Even more disturbing are rumblings that Trump may renege on his promise to “rip [the Iran deal] up.” In an opinion column for CNN, “Why Trump won’t tear up Iran nuclear deal,” David Andelman argues that “you don’t hear that ‘rip it up’ language any longer. And you won’t.” Reuters reports that the Trump administration is using the same messaging to the Board of Governors as used under Obama: “Iran must strictly and fully adhere to all commitments and technical measures for their duration.” Lee Smith pointed out that “former National Iranian American Council (NIAC) staffer Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, Obama’s NSC director for Iran, is now on the policy-planning staff in Trump’s State Department.” NIAC is effectively the Iran Lobby in the U.S.

If Iran is supposed to honor their commitments in the unsigned deal, will Trump also uphold the misguided U.S. political commitments as well? Trump’s pick to head the CIA, former Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS), has called this agreement “nothing more than a press release and just about as enforceable.”

It is the media’s responsibility to hold Trump accountable for keeping his promises to the American people, instead of working to undermine his policies. But Trump needs to do a better job of filling key positions and vetting the people who are making and carrying out his policies. Otherwise, his administration could turn out to be a disaster.


Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi. He can be contacted at [email protected]. View the complete archives from Roger Aronoff.

03/22/17

Can Trump Save His Presidency and the Nation?

By: Cliff Kincaid | America’s Survival

Geopolitical expert Jeff Nyquist talks with Cliff Kincaid about whether Trump can “drain the swamp” before the swamp swallows and takes him down. Nyqust analyses how the communists in the Democratic Party and Russia are working together, not in opposition. Will FBI Director James Comey charge Trump or his associates with being Russian agents? Why is Trump pouring more U.S. troops into Syria and Afghanistan? Can Europe survive with a Russian agent (Angela Merkel) running Germany?

03/10/17

Inside the CIA: Leaks, Moles and “Diversity”

By: Cliff Kincaid | America’s Survival

Former senior CIA Officer Michael Scheuer spent over 20 years with the CIA and talks in this interview about leaks, moles and “diversity” at the agency. The controversial and outspoken former chief of the Osama bin Laden unit in the CIA, he says the U.S. is losing the war on Islamic terrorism.

01/28/17

President Trump Keeps His Word… Halts Refugee Program and Commences Extreme Vetting [VIDEO]

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton | Right Wing News

Finally! President Trump did it… he froze refugees from coming into the US for four months. I would have preferred two years for all immigrants, but I’ll take it. He also permanently banned all Syrian refugees until further notice. Extreme vetting will now begin to be implemented through the Department of Homeland Security and the Secretaries of State. Trump also lowered the number of refugees that can come into the US in a given year to 50,000. Obama has already had 32,125 come in, so there will be very few coming in the rest of the year.

Now… if we can now emulate Switzerland on reviewing refugees as well, that will be a good start. They require that immigrants and refugees assimilate into their culture or they are deported. They are watched for years and their neighbors are interviewed. For instance, school girls who refuse to swim in a pool with boys violate their rules and their whole family is deported over it. We need similar reviews of those already here.

From Breitbart:

President Trump signed an executive order late Friday which temporarily bars refugees from entering the United States.

Trump signed the order on refugees while at the Pentagon, minutes after General James Mattis was sworn in as Secretary of Defense by Vice President Mike Pence at a brief ceremony which the president attended.

The executive order, “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals,” contained these key elements:

  • Suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days, prohibiting the arrival of refugees into the United States from any country during that period
  • Ordered the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security to undertake a complete review of the refugee vetting process
  • Permanently banned Syrian refugees until President Trump determined otherwise, and
  • Lowered the ceiling of refugees allowed to enter the United States during FY 2017 to 50,000.

Opponents of the federal refugee resettlement program praised Trump’s actions. “This is a great beginning, and much needed,” Ann Corcoran of Refugee Resettlement Watch told Breitbart News.

During the 12 months up to September 30, 2016, the federal government accepted 84,995 refugees in the United States.

In the three months and twenty-seven days since Fiscal Year 2017 began on October 1, 2016, 32,125 refugees have entered the United States.

In an exclusive one-on-one interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), President Trump told CBN’s David Brody of The Brody File that he will be reversing the Obama regime’s preference of Muslims over Christians when it comes to allowing refugees to enter the United States from foreign countries. Glory freaking hallelujah! That’s simply awesomesauce.

DAVID BRODY: “When it comes to persecuted Christians — we’ve talked about this. Overseas, the refugee program that — or the changes you’re looking to make — as it related to persecuted Christians, do you see them as kind of a priority here?”

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: “Yes. They’ve been horribly treated. You know, if you were a Christian in Syria, it was impossible, at least very, very tough to get into the United States.

If you were a Muslim, you could come in. But if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible. And the reason that was so unfair is that — everybody was persecuted in all fairness; they were chopping off the heads of everybody — but more so the Christians.

And I thought it was very very unfair, so we are going to help them.”

I assume this means there will be exceptions made for Christians fleeing Syria. I’m ecstatic over that. The executive order does allow the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security the discretion, on a case by case basis, “to process… those refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.” I could kiss the lawyer that wrote that… that refers directly to Christians.

The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday announced the suspension of the processing of any refugees overseas currently under consideration for acceptance to the program. The executive order also included a temporary block on visas for 90 days for “immigrants and non-immigrants” from Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, Iran and Iraq, and specifically directed the Secretary of State to “request all foreign governments that do not supply such information [regarding refugee vetting] to start providing such information regarding their nationals within 60 days of notification.”

Signing the “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals” executive order was one of two executive actions taken by President Trump immediately after he congratulated General Mattis. The other action was the signing of a presidential memorandum, whose purpose, the president said, is “to begin a great rebuilding of the armed services of the United States, developing a plan for new planes, new ships, new resources and new tools for our men and women in uniform.” All of this makes me warm and fuzzy inside. What a great first week.

01/28/17

Trump Mocks ISIS As ‘Sneaky, Dirty Rats’ – Mattis Focuses on Wiping Them Out

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton | Right Wing News

President Trump referred to ISIS as ‘sneaky, dirty rats’ in his interview with Sean Hannity this week. I have much more descriptive terms for them, but I understand the use of sanitized descriptors for these monsters. Trump is correct that when we fought Germany and Japan, they wore uniforms and were easy to identify. With ISIS, you can only go by their religious beliefs and their military moves. This is where extreme vetting comes into play. And perhaps the cunning use of flags (see Eddie Izzard):

In all seriousness, President Trump is right… these are evil bastards. And evil always loses in the end… see General ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis. Trump also discussed enhanced interrogation techniques and torture. Personally, I’m all for them. I truly believe that there are times when it is the only thing that produces results, if you are going to get anything at all out of the enemy. The enemy has no moral dilemma about torturing us. War is hell and sometimes violence is required. I know that is shocking… the left can just deal with it.

From Breitbart:

Appearing on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program Thursday evening, President Donald Trump had some choice words for the Islamic State.

We have evil that lurks around the corner without the uniforms. Ours is harder because the people that we’re going against, they don’t wear uniforms. They’re sneaky, dirty rats. And they blow people up in a shopping center. And they blow people up in a church. These are bad people.

When you’re fighting Germany, they had their uniforms, and Japan, and they had their uniforms and they had their flags on the plane and the whole thing. We are fighting sneaky rats right now that are sick and demented. And we’re going to win.

Trump also discussed the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, after Hannity argued opponents of waterboarding would endorse the technique if their own loved ones had been kidnapped by terrorists.

Trump said yesterday that despite his feeling that torture works, he’s going to defer judgement on that to his Secretary of Defense, General Mattis, who openly disagrees with him. I find that surprising from Mattis, but we will see. I think Mattis is more of a ‘shoot first and screw the intel’ kind of guy. Trump is deferring to Mattis as he should here. He said Defense Secretary James Mattis “doesn’t intend to use it” and “I’m with him all the way.”

President Trump is also cultivating a close relationship with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has been extremely critical of radical Islam. “He went into a tough situation, and all I can say is, I like him,” Trump declared. As for Saudi Arabia, Trump suggested he was biting his tongue in the interests of maintaining a good relationship with the Kingdom, but he is not pleased with their past activities: “A lot of money is being spent from certain countries on radicalizing people. I don’t like that. I don’t like that.” Saudi Arabia is not our friend and they should be treated as an enemy as far as I’m concerned. Along with Iran, I blame them for 9/11. Trump will have to tread lightly there, but in the end he may find that you can’t really befriend Islamists. It always ends badly.

01/24/17

For Those Scoffing at Russian Penetration into American Democracy

By: Denise Simon | FoundersCode.com

This site has posted often on General Gerasimov and his doctrine. The games and propaganda that the Kremlin applies is still not taken seriously by the American people as they continue to scoff at Russian intrusions into our culture.

Russia is playing a double game and it is time to set aside manufactured notions and seek the expertise of countless Russian scholars as well as what the Pentagon and intelligence communities are publishing.

Related reading: Russia’s “Ambiguous Warfare” and Implications for the U.S. Marine Corps, 2015

Using the sources that Russian officials use themselves is a valuable tool as noted here:

“Military-industrial courier”

International Maritime Defence Show

«Military-industrial courier» is a weekly illustrated All-Russian newspaper. The main topics of the newspaper are politics and economics, role of legislative and executive power in the process of military reform providing. «Military-industrial courier» is position on the newspaper market as a respectable edition which highlights defence industries and institutions, adds to military products promotion to the domestic and foreign markets.The newspaper boasts of domestic military chiefs and defence leaders interviews in which most important issues of that sector of the economy are raised.

For a short period of time «Military- industrial courier» has achieved recognition with the Russian high-ranking military officials.

The newspaper is distributed on a subscription and by retail within the Russian Federation and abroad. The circulation is more than 50000 copies.

Here goes yet another attempt.

****

Narrative, Cyberspace and the 21st Century Art of War

In February 2013, an article insipidly entitled “The Value of Science in Prediction” appeared in the Russian publication Military-Industrial Courier. The article was penned by Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff of the Russian Federation. Few in the West recognized the article at all, much less its significance, at the time of its publication.

In the article, Gerasimov analyzed “new-type conflicts.” These conflicts entail an array of strategies and tactics employed in the gray zone to achieve national interests, even military, without a declaration of war and without crossing the threshold that would provoke a kinetic response.

“The very ‘rules of war’ have changed,” Gerasimov wrote.

Dr. Mark Galeotti, an expert on Russian history and security issues who annotated an English translation of Gerasimov’s article, identified the most important line as, “The role of nonmilitary means of achieving political and strategic goals has grown and, in many cases, they have exceeded the power of force of weapons in their effectiveness.”

Gerasimov’s “nonmilitary means” included “broad use of political, economic, informational, humanitarian and other nonmilitary measures – applied with the protest potential of the population.”

Experts see one hybrid tactic – narrative and cyber – playing an increasingly prominent role in current conflicts.

War Narratives

An old Wall Street adage goes, “You’d have to be a paranoid Russian poet to understand global finance.” Today, that maxim might be paraphrased for an equally unexpected insight: “It helps to be a literary critic in understanding contemporary warfare.”

In The Art of War, Sun Tzu described the “five constant factors” of conventional warfare, but none included narrative. Experts now point to the influential role of narrative in military, geopolitical and ideological “new-type conflicts.”

Nations like Russia and China, as well as terrorist organizations like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), are using narrative to motivate audiences, advance agendas and engage adversaries.

Scholars have long argued that literary techniques are not the special purview of novelists, poets and playwrights. From philosophers’ research on metaphor to cognitive scientists’ investigations into parable, literary devices reveal and appeal to basic human cognition. Perhaps that’s why narrative’s use by governments, institutions, businesses and ideologues is not new.

When employed in military or geopolitical conflicts, Brad Allenby and Joel Garreau, co-directors of The Weaponized Narrative Initiative of the Center on the Future of War, call it “weaponized narrative.” And they believe its recent effectiveness will encourage further use.

In an email interview, Allenby said, “Weaponized narrative is not a temporary or passing phenomenon. It is based on significant recent advances in science, technology and social use of technology.”

Combined with tactics afforded by cyberspace, narrative’s influence broadens. But Dr. Ajit Maan, affiliate scholar at the Center for Narrative and Conflict Resolution and CEO of Narrative Strategies, notes that narrative’s power precedes technology.

In an email interview with Fifth Domain, Maan said:

Advanced technologies work to disseminate messages farther and wider than they would be otherwise, but narratives are already there, on the ground, in people’s heads. The enemies of the U.S. and her allies understand this very well. Advanced technology is a tool. The center of gravity is the narrative.

The “Era of Cybered Conflict”

Current conflicts play out, at least partly, in cyberspace.

Dr. Chris C. Demchak, RDML Grace Murray Hopper professor of cybersecurity and director of the Center for Cyber Conflict Studies at the U.S. Naval War College, characterizes today’s environment as one of “cybered conflict.”

In an interview – in which she offered her views and not the views of the U.S. government, U.S. Navy or U.S. Naval War College – Demchak said:

Due to the massively insecure technology of the global cyberspace, we in the West have created a widely spread, poorly secured cyberspace “substrate” that allows attackers in any numbers, from anywhere, with any tools and for any reason to cheaply reach into our critical systems with minimal chances of being punished. The result is that the world has been thrust into an era of “cybered conflict.”

Like Gerasimov’s blurred line between war and peace, Demchak described cybered conflicts as “stretch[ing] from peace through traditional war.” Importantly, Demchak highlighted the strategic advantages of cybered conflict relative to conventional war:

Most cybered conflict – which can have existential consequences – does not involve killing anyone or destroying something explosively. Rather, it is marked by exceptional advantage to deception in what tools are used and opaqueness in who, in what numbers, are using them. Going to the end of the spectrum – to “cyberwar” – is relatively inefficient and opens oneself up to direct retaliation throughout one’s own societal systems. Instead, one can slowly demolish an opponent without ever killing someone or destroying something with a kinetic tool traceable back to oneself … [which] is much safer, reliable and easier to outsource.

Russia, China and ISIS are all leveraging the advantages afforded by cybered conflict to employ hybrid warfare tactics – from hacking to weaponized narrative.

Russia and the Grand Nationalist Narrative

Russia’s use of hybrid warfare long predates Gerasimov’s article. Noting the Soviet Union’s traditional outward posture since the Cold War’s advent, Demchak said, “Russia innovated the strategy of disinformation and personalized brutality to ‘eat a democracy from the inside out’ … producing the involuntary servitude of the former Warsaw Pact.”

Allenby noted favorable conditions for disinformation persist today: “The Russian system tends to reward the cynical, morally relativistic psychology that best aligns with developing and deploying weaponized narratives.”

As foreshadowed by Gerasimov, Russia has displayed its hybrid capabilities during the Ukraine conflict. Allenby points to Russia resurrecting the historical “Novorossiya” and adopting the newer “Russian Eurasian Empire” narratives.

Such narratives matter, Allenby explained, “Because suborning an adversary through weaponized narrative is far, far less costly than a conventional attack. Weaponized narrative offered an important way to achieve Russian ends while not justifying a conventional response under the UN charter.”

Allenby also noted the hybrid approach, which included narrative and “fomenting insurrection and insurgency, and judicious application of ‘little green men,’” or suspected Russian troops.

Allenby added, “Was the invasion [of Crimea] effective? Absolutely. Was it a strategic success? For that, we’ll have to wait and see.”

Asked about the similarities and differences between Russia’s tactics in Ukraine and the alleged activities carried out during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Allenby said:

The two are similar, in that causing a degree of confusion and social fragmentation in the target is a major strategic goal. The tools are different because the cultures are very different, and the follow through is different … Nonetheless, the underlying processes, operations and design of weaponized narrative campaigns must be similar because they are based on the same advanced science, new technologies and rapidly evolving understanding of human psychology.

China and the Sovereignty Narrative

China is also using narrative to further its geopolitical agenda. China’s interest in expanding territorial sovereignty in the South China Seas is well known. Less so is China’s “cyber sovereignty” narrative, which Demchak has examined.

At issue is, Demchak wrote, “China wants her borders in cyberspace and will take nothing less.” Whereas the West sees the internet as a tool for global democratization, “the Chinese narrative accentuates the instability and greater dissent that can accrue with a border-spanning open internet.”

China’s view implicitly acknowledges Gerasimov’s “protest potential of the population.”

To achieve cyber sovereignty, China has employed hybrid gray-zone tactics.

“China,” Demchak wrote, “is also hoping to hurry along the [U.S.’s] apparent decline with narratives, money and stealth and yet control the narrative of a no-threat peaceful rise well enough to stay short of physical conflict.”

China’s cyber sovereignty is part of a grander narrative. “China justifies its rise in the world – its ‘rightful place’ – on the basis of its population,” Demchak said. “China will not over time tolerate U.S. obstruction of its ‘rightful’ rise as the global hegemon.”

ISIS and the Narrative of the Islamic Caliphate

The rise of ISIS surprised many in the West. Narrative and cyberspace played a central role, experts say.

Counterterrorism scholars have studied the “messaging and counter-messaging” of ISIS. Maan thinks ISIS’s narratives are more “profound and pervasive” than simple messaging.

“It is through narrative that identity is constructed: Personal identity, communal/clan identity and national identity,” she said. “It is formative in the identity layers of all parties to communication long before any communication has taken place between them.”

In her writing, Maan has examined a common idea across ISIS’s communications: “Islam is under attack.” That is a title, not the narrative, she explained.

Despite the West’s claims otherwise, “Islam is under attack” resonates with ISIS followers in many forms. “Narrative provides and determines the meaning of events,” Maan said. “Events don’t speak for themselves. Narratives speak for events.”

Maan argues, rather than focusing on counter-narrative, which oftentimes “emboldens” the original, the West should develop its own. To succeed, Maan thinks the West’s narratives must be credible and based on the “production of common sense.”

“That is how successful narratives appear. They don’t seem like a construction. They seem to reflect ‘just the way things are,’” she said.

01/19/17

Obama’s Iranian Nuke Deal is a Major Challenge for Trump

By: Roger Aronoff | Accuracy in Media

No matter how false and misleading it is to cite the Iran deal as “signed,” when it is little more than a set of unenforceable political commitments, the news media continue to publish fake news arguing that somehow Iran and the P5+1 have agreed on a single text of the deal. In reality, the Iranian parliament endorsed a different version of the deal than was supposedly accepted by the P5+1, and the JCPOA was agreed upon without signatures or signatories.

Now President Obama is using a news organ of the U.S. government, RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, to sell the narrative that this is a signed deal. “Rohani has been accused of overhyping the agreement and being duped by Washington and five other world powers at the negotiating table,” reports Frud Bezhan for RadioLiberty. “In many ways, it mirrors the situation in the United States, where supporters have fended off consistent opposition to the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA), in which Tehran agreed to curtail its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, since it was signed in July 2015” (emphasis added). In other words, American critics should stop complaining because the Iranians don’t believe the deal benefited them either.

How can the author of that article not know that the Iran deal was not actually signed? It was the State Department’s Julia Frifield who sent a letter to Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) saying that the Iran deal is “not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document.” Rather, she wrote, this deal represents “political commitments” between Iran and other nations. How, exactly, can policymakers politically commit to something that the parties have not agreed on in writing, validated by signatures? There is no such document, and this news article is little more than government-funded propaganda.

Even The New York Times admits that the parties had to parse out different interpretations when it reported in January of last year that Iran and the United States had not yet agreed on “details of what kind of ‘advanced centrifuges’ Iran will be able to develop nearly a decade from now.” This, the Times stated, was “the kind of definitional difference that can undermine an accord”—yet these details were being worked out months later than when the agreement was supposedly signed.

“But as the first anniversary of implementation day approaches on January 16, Rohani has been saddled by the high expectations he set, as Iran’s economy continues to struggle and the great boost in foreign investment and other benefits he envisioned has so far failed to materialize,” reports RadioLiberty. There are a number of different landmarks in how the Iran Deal is supposed to be implemented, which allows the Obama administration to acknowledge multiple anniversaries of the deal.

For example, the White House celebrated July 14, 2016 as the first year anniversary of this unsigned deal. “Today marks one year since the conclusion of the Iran nuclear deal…by representatives of the United States, Iran, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, China, Russia, and the European Union,” read President Obama’s statement. “Over the last year, the Iran Deal has succeeded in rolling back Iran’s nuclear program, avoiding further conflict and making us safer.”

But there are multiple anniversaries that the administration, as well as the compliant press, can use to their political advantage, highlighting Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement. After all, there is the day of the agreement (July 14, 2015), Adoption Day (October 18, 2015), and Implementation Day (January 16, 2016). The Hill, in particular, published a news story on the anniversary this week which exclusively cites President Obama, and no other sources. In other words, this January anniversary is yet another chance for the mainstream media to produce more propaganda in favor of the unsigned and unenforceable deal.

“Today marks the one-year anniversary of the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—a deal that has achieved significant, concrete results in making the United States and the world a safer place,” reads President Obama’s statement this week. The Washington Times reports that Obama used the one-year anniversary to warn “Americans—chief among them President-elect Donald Trump—that unraveling the agreement would bring ‘much worse’ consequences.” In other words, Obama is willing to lie to the public about the contents of the deal in order to salvage his foreign policy legacy from Trump’s future actions.

Obama is on the same page with Iranian President Hassan Rohani, who had harsh words for President-elect Trump. On Tuesday, Rohani said that talk of renegotiating the deal was “meaningless,” and that he “doesn’t think [Trump] can do much when he gets to the White House.”

Trump has nominated Rep. Pompeo to head the Central Intelligence Agency. Pompeo, in response to the letter he received from the State Department, said that the deal was “nothing more than a press release and just about as enforceable.” Yet Obama continues to claim, again and again, that the Iran Deal will make the world safer. The opposite is true: Iran, under this deal, has been given a pathway to develop nuclear weapons.

I recently asked Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and a great friend of Israel, how this is a deal if it’s not signed. He said that “theoretically it wasn’t signed, but it was agreed to.” Theoretically? He said that it was a matter of semantics. “It was a bad deal,” he told me. “It doesn’t matter whether it was signed or not, it was a bad deal.”

Perhaps there is another anniversary that Obama should be celebrating—coordinating ransom money to the Iranians. According to The Wall Street Journal, “The U.S. Treasury Department wired the money [$1.7 billion] to Iran around the same time its theocratic government allowed three American prisoners to fly out of Tehran….The announcements coincided with the implementation of the nuclear agreement with Iran, lifting international economic sanctions in exchange for Iran curtailing its nuclear program.” President Obama claimed that this wasn’t a ransom payment—but the proximity to the release of U.S. prisoners demonstrates that this was, in fact, nothing short of buying off the Iranians.

If Obama wishes to celebrate, and the media continue to applaud, the anniversary of this terrible, unsigned agreement, then both parties must take ownership of how the ransom money sent to Iran—and sanctions relief—emboldens this totalitarian, theocratic regime.

Obama continues to appease the Iranians, opposing Congress’ recently renewed Iran Sanctions Act. The Wall Street Journal reported that Obama “decided to let the legislation imposing U.S. restrictions on Iran’s missile program become law without his signature” and that the law had overwhelming bipartisan support from Congress. In fact, the vote in the Senate was 99-0. In response, Rohani “ordered the development of a nuclear-powered system for ships, a move described as retaliation for the sanctions extension,” yet Obama’s press secretary, Josh Earnest, claimed that “Iran’s decision does not violate the nuclear deal.”

What, exactly, would violate this unsigned, unenforceable agreement? The fact that the parties have not signed this agreement, and that Iran has a different conception of the deal, means that Iran’s belligerence, and the deceit from both Iran and the Obama administration, amounts to a very challenging mess for the incoming Trump administration. Will the “art of the deal” prevail, or is a military confrontation inevitable?


Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi. He can be contacted at [email protected]. View the complete archives from Roger Aronoff.

01/11/17

Obama’s Legacy of Endless Wars and Transgender Soldiers

By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media

Left-wing Democrat Norman Solomon says fellow Democrats are “more interested in playing to the press gallery than speaking directly to the economic distress of voters in the Rust Belt and elsewhere who handed the presidency” to Donald J. Trump. Democrats should spend some time learning “how they’ve lost touch with working-class voters,” he says.

He is referring to how Democrats are saying what the media want to hear—that Trump was elected because of Vladimir Putin and the Russians. This was the claim first advanced by President Obama’s CIA in leaks to The Washington Post and The New York Times.

But this is not just a political dispute involving Democrats failing to understand why they lost to Trump. Solomon says “the emerging incendiary rhetoric against Russia is extremely dangerous” and “could lead to a military confrontation between two countries that each has thousands of nuclear weapons,” and which could trigger a “nuclear holocaust.”

Solomon, a former Democratic congressional candidate, says that Democrats, by “teaming up with the likes of Republican Senators John McCain (AZ) and Lindsey Graham (SC) to exert bipartisan pressure for escalation,” could help “stampede the Trump administration in reckless directions” and provoke Russia into a war.

There is no evidence that the Trump administration could be “stampeded” in that way. Trump has said repeatedly that he is not interested in a confrontation with Russia. What seems to be consuming the attention of the incoming Trump administration are the no-win wars with ISIS and al-Qaeda that Obama will leave behind, and the corruption in the Intelligence Community that has been responsible for claims that the U.S. is winning the war against radical Islam.

Trump’s new CIA director, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), is a member of the House Intelligence Committee and participated in a congressional joint task force that documented in a report how U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) manipulated intelligence to downplay the threat from ISIS. Three months after Pompeo and his colleagues issued their report, he said that those responsible for downplaying the threat from ISIS had not yet been held accountable.

Pompeo said the manipulation of intelligence resulted from “an administration-wide understanding that bad news from Iraq and Syria was not welcomed.” He added, “Claims that ISIS was the ‘JV team’ and that al-Qaeda was ‘on the run’ were both a result—and a cause—of the politicization of intelligence at CENTCOM. This intelligence manipulation provided space for both ISIS and al-Qaeda to grow and it put America at risk.”

Obama, of course, was responsible for the claims that ISIS was the “JV team” and that al-Qaeda was “on the run.” He lied to the American people about progress in the war on terror.

Obama’s Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said on December 15 that ISIS was “failing” and that “the campaign to defeat the terror group in Iraq and Syria is on track.” Five days earlier, Carter had announced that 200 additional American special operations troops would be heading to Syria to liberate Raqqa, ISIS’ de facto capital in Syria. That will bring the total number of U.S. troops in Syria to 500.

Obama’s war in Syria has never been authorized by Congress.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs magazine has published an article demonstrating that, after a defeat and a loss of territory, “ISIS members don’t simply give up their cause or switch their allegiance; they merely change their tactics,” reforming into small units conducting insurgency campaigns.

According to the article, these terrorists operate under different flags. The authors cite the case of an ex-Iraqi policeman who fought for al-Qaeda and later emerged under the ISIS banner. It is possible, the authors say, that “insurgent group numbers will only continue to increase, as will their power.” The authors say there is little room for optimism that the Baghdad regime being supported by the U.S. will address the sectarian grievances that fuel the conflict.

ISIS has expanded into Afghanistan, where a counterterrorism official says the terrorist group is “present in at least 11 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.”

Reflecting the deteriorating situation, Obama’s decision that the U.S. would draw down to 5,500 troops in the country has been changed. Now, approximately 8,400 military personnel will remain at the time that Trump takes office.

Fighting terrorists isn’t the only item on the agenda. American sailors deployed in Afghanistan underwent Transgender Policy Training in Kabul on November 24. According to an official press release, sailors were told about the policy that took effect on October 1, whereby they could “begin the process to officially change their gender in the Navy administrative systems following DoD policy and in accordance to the standards delineated.”

A website reflecting the views of Christian military officers described the training this way: “The US Navy began teaching its Sailors about women thinking they’re men, and vice versa, even as they’re deployed in Afghanistan—a nation, incidentally, in which transgenders would probably be tossed in jail or executed.”

Not to worry. The official Pentagon spokesman says the Afghanistan mission also remains “on track.”


Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected] View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.