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51  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GPF: US loss= Russia's gain? on: December 07, 2017, 06:42:54 AM
In North Korea, Is the United States’ Loss Russia’s Gain?
Dec 7, 2017

 
By Xander Snyder
Last week, North Korea conducted yet another missile test, and yet again the world clutched its pearls in horror. The thing is, North Korean weapons tests are, by their nature, provocative, so we shouldn’t be too surprised when they incite condemnation among countries whose security they would impair. What is sometimes surprising, though, are what the reactions reveal about a country’s intentions – and therefore how that country means to use the North Korea crisis to its advantage.

Leverage

Russia is a case in point. On Dec. 5, Russia’s deputy foreign minister said Moscow was prepared to “exert its influence” on Pyongyang to resolve the brewing conflict. In fact, he had outlined a three-part strategy even before the missile test. The first part would require the United States to halt military drills with South Korea. North Korea would, in turn, stop testing its missiles. The second part would entail direct negotiations between North Korea, South Korea and the United States. The third part would involve a process where “all the involved countries [would] discuss the entire complex of issues of collective security in Asia.” The implication, of course, is that Russia would have a role in creating the agreement.

The deputy foreign minister’s proposals are hardly novel, but they raise some important questions. In what ways and to what degree does Russia have leverage over North Korea? What outcome would best advance Moscow’s interests?

The answer to the first question likely begins and ends with oil. Russia has long been suspected of supplying North Korea with oil (international sanctions limit such activity), but recent reports from a collective of journalists called Asia Press International claim that the price of oil there has fallen by 40 percent. We have not yet confirmed the amount of oil Russia has exported to North Korea, and so we have not verified the fall of the price of oil, but it’s easy to see why Russia would want to help Pyongyang. Doing so creates dependency, and dependency creates leverage that Russia could use in future negotiations with China or the United States.

Keeping the oil flowing, moreover, serves Moscow’s interests by helping to preserve the power of Kim Jong Un. Russia may not be a particularly close ally of North Korea, but its shared border means that its security is, to an extent, tied to North Korea’s. If Pyongyang and Washington go to war, how long would Russia tolerate the presence of U.S. troops so close to its border? How many North Korean refugees would it allow in its territory? The Kim regime, for all its faults, insulates Russia from the devil it doesn’t know.

This helps to explain why some 1,000 Russian marines are conducting live-fire exercises in Primorye, near Russia’s border with North Korea, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. Military exercises in Russia’s east are not unprecedented, but they are uncommon. (The last time Russia conducted military exercises in the Far East was February 2016.) The U.S. and South Korea, meanwhile, are conducting exercises involving 230 warplanes and 12,000 troops. For its part, China is performing naval exercises in the Yellow Sea and East China Sea, having alluded in a state-supported newspaper that South Korea could become a major rival.

Valid though Russia’s reasons for helping Pyongyang may be, Moscow’s peace plan suffers from the same flaw that every other proposed plan suffers: compliance. The U.S. wants North Korea to suspend its nuclear weapons program entirely. The only way to ensure that that happens is on-the-ground inspections to which Kim would never agree.

The plan also ignores North Korea’s technological advancement. It’s true that North Korea had not tested its missiles in more than 70 days, and it’s true that the U.S.-South Korean military exercises may be to blame for the tests’ resumption. But the most recent test showcased significant improvements in range and in deliverable payload weight. If North Korea can improve its missiles without live-testing them, then clearly a moratorium won’t arrest the program. The Russian proposal, if implemented, would fail to resolve this issue.

Damned If It Does, Damned If It Doesn’t

As for the United States, Washington has no good options. Failing to prevent North Korea from acquiring a deliverable nuclear weapon – which it can then use, with impunity, to make demands of its neighbors – undermines the credibility of the United States’ security guarantee in the Pacific. Executing a pre-emptive attack that forces South Korea into a war risks undermining the same credibility. A security guarantee isn’t a security guarantee if a country has to fight and die in a war it didn’t want.

Faced with this impossible situation, the U.S. has through some media leaks shown it is considering unconventional ways to disarm North Korea without invading it. On Dec. 6, two anonymous U.S. officials leaked details about a microwave weapon that could be delivered on a low-flying missile to destroy electronics that the North would need to launch its intercontinental ballistic missiles. Whether these technologies would work, let alone if they exist, is beside the point. Creating the appearance of viable alternatives gives the U.S. some maneuverability in a world full of red lines.

The U.S. is also focusing on ballistic missile defense, reportedly now scouting for additional locations on the West Coast to erect systems. But ballistic missile defense systems are simply not yet reliable enough to provide the surety needed to construct a dependable strategy around them. In fact, on Dec. 4, The New York Times reported that U.S.-supplied BMD systems may have failed as many as five times in preventing missile attacks on Saudi Arabia by Yemeni rebels.
 
(click to enlarge)

North Korea will soon possess a deliverable nuclear weapon – if it does not possess one already. The speed with which it has developed its program has exceeded expectations, including ours. Some analysts believe Pyongyang will have one in only a few months. The window for U.S. intervention, if it even still exists, is rapidly closing. But even if the U.S. were to attack North Korea, there is no guarantee it would destroy the nuclear program entirely. And there’s nothing to stop the survivors from starting from scratch in the event their program were, in fact, annihilated. This time they would have even more effective propaganda to galvanize the public.

The United States, then, is damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t. It can bet the lives of soldiers on the uncertain prospect of taking out North Korea’s nuclear program. It can conduct a pre-emptive nuclear attack. Or it can live with a nuclear North Korea. It’s an unenviable position, to say the least.
52  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Judicial Watch on recent developments on: December 06, 2017, 08:23:40 PM
JW has been the tip of the spear for much of this-- very strong work!  I am a donor.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqz00xzWpoU
53  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mueller deputy represented Ben Rhodes and Clinton Foundation on: December 06, 2017, 01:52:42 PM


https://pjmedia.com/trending/another-one-mueller-deputy-personal-attorney-ben-rhodes-represented-clinton-foundation/
54  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Once again the Unorganized Militia backs up law enforcement on: December 06, 2017, 01:28:02 PM
https://www.officer.com/tactical/firearms/news/20984912/bystander-shoots-suspect-beating-dawson-county-georgia-sheriffs-deputy-sgt-randy-harkness?utm_source=Officer.com+Newsday+E-Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=CPS171130002&o_eid=2450A5959134B2V&rdx.ident%5Bpull%5D=omeda%7C2450A5959134B2V
55  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ/Nidess: What is China's Angle in North Korea? on: December 06, 2017, 12:00:58 PM
This piece seems to me to be well worth considering.

What Is China’s Angle in North Korea?
Trump can’t rely on Xi’s cooperation. Beijing seems to be using Pyongyang to weaken U.S. influence.
By Daniel Nidess
Dec. 5, 2017 7:24 p.m. ET
116 COMMENTS

‘Just spoke to President XI JINPING of China concerning the provocative actions of North Korea,” President Trump tweeted last week, referring to Pyongyang’s launch of a missile that may be capable of striking anywhere in the U.S. “The situation will be handled!”

That Mr. Xi will help resolve the crisis on the Korean Peninsula has been Mr. Trump’s expectation since their first meeting at Mar-a-Lago. With America’s Korea policy now seemingly dependent on China’s cooperation, it is time to put the relationship between Pyongyang and Beijing into perspective.

Two competing narratives have come to dominate the discussion. In the first, China has no fondness for Kim Jong Un’s regime and is aligned with the rest of the world in viewing it as a threat to peace and stability. But Beijing is constrained. It has less influence with Pyongyang than the world imagines and fears creating a humanitarian catastrophe on the Chinese border. In short, the Chinese share the world’s concerns and would love to do more, but their hands are tied.

In the competing narrative, China has no real interest in pressuring North Korea too forcefully, since it serves as a useful buffer between the Chinese border and U.S. troops in South Korea. Realpolitik dictates that, despite real concern over Pyongyang’s instability and unpredictability, a somewhat erratic ally is immeasurably better than staring at your enemies across the Yalu River.

Most of the commentary on China’s efforts falls somewhere on the spectrum between these two narratives. But there’s a third possibility—that China has been deliberately allowing tensions on the Korean Peninsula to escalate, if not outright stoking them. More than two decades of U.S.-led diplomacy, sanctions and threats have all failed to halt North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and resulted in only one real casualty: American credibility. The inability of the world’s only superpower to entice, coerce or force a small, impoverished nation to fall into line has undoubtedly been observed by Asian countries weighing whether to align with American or Chinese spheres of influence.

Using North Korea to highlight the limits of American power and influence would fit into a larger Chinese strategy of discrediting U.S. relevance in the Asia-Pacific region. Despite consistent protests from the U.S. and its allies, China has continued to expand and arm its chain of artificial islands in the East China and South China seas. Beijing’s ability to flout a legally binding decision by an international tribunal on a territorial dispute with the Philippines further reinforces the message that the U.S.-led international system is ineffective and irrelevant.

This is not to say that China is actively pulling Pyongyang’s strings. It doesn’t need to. By simply tolerating North Korea’s pursuit of its nuclear agenda, educating its scientists, and providing just enough diplomatic and economic cover to keep the regime afloat, China allows the crisis to fester. As the crisis goads successive American administrations into ever greater displays of impotence, America’s prestige continues to decline.

Skeptics of this theory may point to the “muscular” responses when tensions escalate—the inevitable flyby of U.S. bombers. But American planes come and go, and North Korea’s weapons programs continue their increasingly rapid progress. Much like the “freedom of navigation” operations, in which U.S. Navy ships sail past China’s artificial islands, they are less significant as shows of force than as demonstrations that the U.S. presence is passing, while the Chinese one is permanent.

Mr. Trump’s approach of appealing to China to mediate not only reinforces this message but provides Beijing an opportunity to move beyond influencing perceptions to attempting to roll back America’s actual presence in the region. China has put forward the so-called Dual Freeze proposal, which would halt joint U.S.-South Korean training exercises along with North Korean nuclear development. That would remove a significant pillar of Washington’s military alliance with Seoul, diminishing the decadeslong U.S. commitment in Asia. All while leaving Pyongyang’s current nuclear capabilities intact.

The U.S. response must be to strengthen its alliances, not weaken them. China’s aggressive territorial expansion and the growing North Korean threat have prompted American allies to begin taking independent steps to expand their military capabilities, including arming their own islands. The U.S. should take the lead in coordinating and accelerating these efforts, tying them into a cohesive, multinational effort that rings China and North Korea from Japan in the east to Vietnam and Thailand in the south.

Although presented explicitly as a response to the threat from North Korean missiles, such an approach would also clearly challenge China’s own ambitions with the outcome that most concerns officials in Beijing—encirclement. It also incorporates an implied economic risk, threatening the shipping lanes from West Asia on which China depends. And unlike ships briefly passing by, this presence would be much more permanent. The message to Beijing would be clear: Curb North Korea’s antagonism, or feel the noose tighten.

North Korea is a nuclear power, and that is not about to change. What must shift is America’s perception of the problem. China enables North Korea’s belligerence as part of a strategy to diminish and ultimately eliminate U.S. influence in Asia and dominate the region. To address it as such, Washington must avoid rewarding Beijing for stoking instability and invert China’s incentives, making it abundantly clear that failure to rein in Pyongyang will increase America’s role in Asia, not decrease it.

Mr. Nidess, a former Marine, is a writer in San Francisco.
56  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The World has taken Trump's Measure on: December 06, 2017, 11:54:14 AM
Not how I would put it  wink

The World Has Taken Trump’s Measure
From Asia to Europe, he has squandered America’s influence and moral authority.
By William A. Galston
Dec. 5, 2017 7:19 p.m. ET
195 COMMENTS

Donald Trump campaigned on a pledge to make America great again. As president he is doing the opposite: He is making America smaller than at any time in the past 100 years.

By pulling the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Mr. Trump has ceded economic leadership in Asia and beyond to China, whose president touts the Chinese model to other countries that want the blessings of prosperity without the inconveniences of liberty. To back up this offer, China is investing huge sums in its “One Belt, One Road” plan and in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

These moves are having the intended effect. Myanmar, which had long been dominated by anti-Chinese sentiment, is now accepting China’s blandishments. The country’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, went to Beijing last week for a conference hosted by the Communist Party.

Vietnam, which has looked to the U.S. as a counterweight against its historical enemy to the north, now wonders whether it must accept Beijing’s economic leadership and yield to its claims in the South China Sea. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has made noises about abandoning his country’s alliance with the U.S. in favor of China. Even Australia, one of our closest allies, is openly debating how to deal with American decline.

In the Middle East, the Trump administration is busy giving ground to Russia. Vladimir Putin is conducting Syrian peace talks while America languishes on the sidelines. Turkey, a member of NATO since 1952, is endorsing the Kremlin’s leading role. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently met with Mr. Putin and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani to support negotiations on the future structure of the Syrian government and state.

Egypt was another long-term linchpin of American diplomacy, and Mr. Trump has lavished praise on its autocratic leader. Yet Cairo has just struck a deal allowing the largest Russian military presence on its soil and in its airspace since 1973. The U.S. doesn’t even have an ambassador in Egypt, let alone a coherent policy to deal with this pivotal country.

Even in Europe, America has been diminished. Mr. Trump’s early ambivalence toward NATO, which gave way to a grudging expression of support, have left a residue of doubt about the credibility of American guarantees. He has driven a wedge between the U.S. and Germany, long our closest ally on the Continent. The “special relationship” with the United Kingdom may not survive his repeated gaffes, capped by his impulsive decision to retweet discredited anti-Muslim videos from a British fringe group.

Close to home, Mr. Trump’s brand of leadership is sorely trying Canadians’ patience: 93% view him as arrogant, 78% as intolerant, and 72% as dangerous. Mexico’s people have also been united against the U.S., by Mr. Trump’s ham-handed immigration policies and heedless negotiations to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement. This may well lead Mexicans to elect an anti-American left-wing populist as their president next year. That Mr. Trump has no discernible policy toward Central and South America is probably a good thing.

Squandering America’s economic and political influence is bad enough. Far worse has been the way Mr. Trump has dissipated our moral authority. Yes, the U.S. has struck deals with unsavory regimes, especially during the Cold War, and has sometimes failed to respect the outcomes of free and fair elections. In the main, however, America has pushed for free societies and democratic governments around the world, while speaking against repression in all its forms.

Until now. The Trump administration has all but abandoned democracy promotion. In practice, an “America First” foreign policy means being indifferent to the character of the regimes with which the U.S. does business.

I wish I could say that President Trump shares this indifference. In fact, he prefers autocrats to elected leaders. He admires their “strength.” He envies their ability to get their way without the pesky opposition of legislatures and courts. He probably wishes he had their power to shut down critical news organizations. In his ideal world, everyone would fall in line behind his goals, and his will would be law.

The world has taken President Trump’s measure. In a 2017 survey of 37 countries, 64% of people expressed confidence in Barack Obama’s ability to do the right thing in international affairs, compared with 22% for Mr. Trump. The current president’s figures were 11% in Germany, 14% in France, and 22% in the U.K. The principal exception was Russia, where Mr. Trump enjoyed 53% approval, compared with 11% for Mr. Obama.

In 1776, at the threshold of American independence, the Founding Fathers espoused a “decent respect to the opinions of mankind.” Today, citizens of countries around the world regard the U.S. as morally diminished under Mr. Trump’s leadership. He shows no signs of caring, and he probably doesn’t.

Appeared in the December 6, 2017, print edition.
57  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Wedding Cake baker goes to SCOTUS on: December 06, 2017, 10:41:26 AM
In Wedding-Cake Case, Supreme Court Weighs Clash Between Gay Rights and Religious Views
Spotlight turns to Justice Anthony Kennedy as justices challenge both sides
Baker Jack Phillips working at Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., in this undated photo.
Baker Jack Phillips working at Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., in this undated photo. Photo: eric baradat/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
By Jess Bravin and
Brent Kendall
Updated Dec. 5, 2017 2:13 p.m. ET
812 COMMENTS

WASHINGTON—Supreme Court justices wrestled with competing visions of individual rights Tuesday, vigorously debating a legal collision between a baker whose Christian faith condemns same-sex marriage and a state law requiring him to sell wedding cakes without regard to sexual orientation.

The case was the first​ major dispute to reach the high court in the wake of its 2015 ruling extending same-sex marriage nationwide, forcing the justices to evaluate that decision’s impact on private parties who, typically for religious reasons, remain opposed to the practice. ​

While federal law doesn’t explicitly protect gay couples from discrimination, more than 20 states and hundreds of local jurisdictions outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, much as they forbid bias against customers for reasons of race, sex, religion, disability and other attributes.

Neither side’s attorneys yielded ground during the arguments, which left little clear other than the court’s recognition that both Jack Phillips, the Lakewood, Colo., baker, and the Denver couple he refused to serve, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, have significant rights at stake.

In a nod to the complexity of the case, several justices challenged lawyers representing the side they were expected to sympathize with.
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Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Donald Trump appointee championed by conservatives, suggested that the administration’s argument favoring Mr. Phillips could open the door to wider discrimination. And liberal Justice Stephen Breyer voiced concern that Colorado had been too cavalier in its treatment of the vendor’s religious views.

But empathy rarely is enough to move justices off their ideological ground, leaving the spotlight on Justice Anthony Kennedy, the maverick conservative who embodies the legal conflict within the case.

Over the past two decades, Justice Kennedy has joined, and led, the court’s liberal wing in expanding gay rights, culminating in a 2015 decision extending same-sex marriage nationwide. But Justice Kennedy also has joined fellow conservatives in easing the strict separation of church and state that had been charted by precedents dating from the 1960s.

On Tuesday, he pressed both sides toward the uncomfortable extremes their arguments could portend.

The Trump administration joined the case on the side of the baker, and the U.S. solicitor general argued on his behalf at the court Tuesday. That marked another occasion when the administration has sided with social conservatives on a high-profile issue reversing a position taken by the Obama White House.

U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco, making his first argument as the Trump administration’s high-court advocate, suggested that regardless of antidiscrimination laws, the First Amendment’s free-speech guarantee should allow businesses to reject any customer seeking their product or services for “an expressive event like a marriage celebration to which they’re deeply opposed.”

“If you prevail, could the baker put a sign in his window, ‘We Do Not Bake Cakes for Gay Weddings’?” Justice Kennedy asked. “And would you not think that an affront to the gay community?”

“I would not minimize the dignity interests to Mr. Craig and Mr. Mullins one bit, but there are dignity interests on the other side here, too,” Mr. Francisco said.

When Frederick Yarger, the Colorado solicitor general, took the lectern, Justice Kennedy upbraided the state with equal force. “Counselor, tolerance is essential in a free society, and tolerance is most meaningful when it’s mutual,” he said. “It seems to me that the state in its position here has been neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips’s religious beliefs.”

Where Justice Kennedy questioned Mr. Francisco over the possibility of a nationwide campaign pressuring bakers to refuse service to gay couples, he told Mr. Yarger that “accommodation is quite possible” because “other good bakery shops” presumably would welcome business from engaged couples of the same sex.

The dispute arose in 2012, when Messrs. Craig and Mullins came to Mr. Phillips’s Masterpiece Cakeshop, only to be turned away within moments of expressing their interest in a wedding cake. The couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, where an administrative law judge and then a seven-member commission found the bakery must offer wedding cakes to same-sex couples on the same terms as other customers.
58  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fake News awareness forcing ABC to BTFU (Brian Ross removed from Trump coverage) on: December 06, 2017, 09:58:53 AM
https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/dec/5/brian-ross-removed-from-trump-coverage-after-suspe/?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTTJWalptTmpNREZsTWpZMSIsInQiOiI5cnVtYXVjVmpYQ25tRWhSK2ZpQjFcL1ZLdFN0dFJ2ZlZzajRpQWZVY2t2eU5nMFlleVBaSjlLcHBBcWxsQVlIbzgxTWdIcEY2ZUlHdkgwUlwvSm56QTYrcVY0Uzk2ckdsUGdrc0NsOTREekhFcDFpMlVQanlpRSszXC90UUJGRjE1WCJ9
59  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GPF: The Coming Conflict Between China & Japan on: December 06, 2017, 08:50:50 AM


The Coming Conflict Between China and Japan

Dec. 6, 2017 As the U.S. nears the limits of its power, regional powers will be more unencumbered than ever before.

By Jacob L. Shapiro

It is easy to forget that as recently as the 19th century, China and Japan were provincial backwaters. So self-absorbed and technologically primitive were East Asia’s great powers that German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel said, “The extensive tract of eastern Asia is severed from the process of general historical development.” His description seems laughable today. China and Japan are now the second- and third-largest economies in the world. Japan’s failed quest for regional domination during World War II and its subsequent economic reconstruction profoundly affected the world. China’s unification under communism and its pursuit of regional power in the past decade have been no less significant.

And yet, for all the strength and wealth Beijing and Tokyo accumulated, since 1800 neither has been powerful enough to claim dominance of the region. Since European and American steamships discovered their technological superiority relative to the local ships in the first half of the 19th century, Chinese and Japanese development has proceeded at the mercy of outside powers. Japan tried to break out, and came close to breaking out during World War II, but was ultimately thwarted by the United States. China, already anointed by many as the world’s great superpower, remains a country divided. The lavish wealth found in its coastal regions is noticeably, if not entirely, absent from the interior.

This state of affairs is beginning to change – and the U.S.-North Korea stand-off over Pyongyang’s pursuit of deliverable nuclear weapons shows just how much. The United States does not want North Korea – a poor, totalitarian state of roughly 25 million malnourished and isolated people – to acquire nuclear weapons capable of striking the U.S. mainland. The U.S. has threatened North Korea with all manner of retribution if Pyongyang continues its pursuit of these weapons, and yet North Korea remains undaunted. It is doing this not because Kim Jong Un is crazy. It is doing this because it figures it will be left standing, come what may.

It may not be such a bad wager. From Kim’s point of view, there are only two ways to get North Korea to halt its development of nuclear missiles: The U.S. either destroys the regime or convinces it that continued tests would call into question its very survival. (For that to work, the regime would have to believe it could be destroyed.)

The U.S. can rail all it wants in the U.N.; it will fall on deaf ears. The U.S. can try to assassinate Kim Jong Un; someone else will take his place. The U.S. can forbid China from fueling North Korea; the North Koreans don’t use that much fuel anyway, and they have already demonstrated they will sacrifice much to defend their country.

One Step Closer

But can the U.S. take out the Kim regime, or at least make Pyongyang think it can? It’s hard to say. There are only two ways to take out the regime. The first – using the United States’ own vast nuclear arsenal – would set a precedent on the use of weapons of mass destruction that Washington would rather not. The second – a full-scale invasion and occupation of North Korea – would strain even U.S. capabilities and wouldn’t have the desired outcome. The U.S. might be able to defeat the North Koreans in the field, but as Vietnam and the Iraq War showed, defeating the enemy in battle is not the same thing as achieving victory. And there is, of course, the question of China, which came to Pyongyang’s aid in 1950, the last time the U.S. fought on the Korean Peninsula, and might well again if the U.S. struck North Korea pre-emptively with massive force.

(click to enlarge)

Limited military strikes are another possibility. Politically attractive though they may be, they can only delay, not destroy, North Korea’s nuclear program. And they would surely enhance Pyongyang’s credibility. Every U.S. attack that doesn’t succeed in knocking out the political leadership would be used as propaganda, spun in the North Korean countryside as a victory against the “gangster-like U.S. imperialists.”

Thus is the extent, and limit, of American power. Around the world, the U.S. has been struggling to execute a foreign policy that does not rely on direct U.S. intervention. This is easier said than done, especially when the issue at stake is nuclear war. Analysts like me can scream until we are blue in the face that North Korea would never use its nuclear weapons because doing so would invite its own demise. But we are not the ones making the decision. We don’t bear the burden of being wrong.

That is the brilliance behind North Korea’s strategy. The goal is to prod the U.S. to react to its behavior – and then to use its reactions to shore up support. And the strategy is working. The U.S. has said time and again that it will not allow North Korea to have a nuclear weapon. If North Korea gets a nuclear weapon, then what good is a U.S. security guarantee? If the U.S. attacks North Korea without destroying the Kim regime – and I believe it can’t – then North Korea can say it defeated the imperialists as it continues to pursue its current strategy. If the U.S. agrees to remove its forces from South Korea in exchange for North Korea’s halting its testing, then North Korea is one step closer to its ultimate goal: unifying the Korean Peninsula under Pyongyang’s rule.

Doing, Not Saying

In every scenario, the conclusion is the same: The United States alone cannot dictate terms in East Asia. It cannot bring North Korea to heel. It cannot make China do what China does not want to do. It cannot even persuade its ally, South Korea, to pretend that a pre-emptive military option is on the table. Japan looks at all the things the U.S. cannot do, and for the first time since 1945 it must ask itself a question that leads to a dark place: What does Japanese policy look like if Tokyo cannot rely on U.S. security guarantees?

The North Korea crisis may not have created Washington’s predicament, but it exposed it in ways previously unseen, to China’s benefit. The U.S. has shed blood and spent untold sums of money forging an alliance network in East Asia to prevent any country there from challenging its power. And so it is the region’s great power, China, not North Korea, that is putting U.S. strategy to the test. Already an economic behemoth, China is rapidly developing its military capabilities. Its newly declared dictator-president, Xi Jinping, intends to preside over a massive transformation of the Chinese economy that, if successful, would make China more self-reliant and politically stable than at any point in the past four centuries. China still has a long way to go – too long before it first loses its political stability, in our estimation – but in the short term, China’s power is growing. Chinese adventurism in the South and East China seas, its strategic investments around Asia, and the continued development of its navy all validate its growing power.

china-japan-exclusive-economic-zones

(click to enlarge)

Its ascendance will inevitably bring China into conflict with Japan. Such conflict is nothing new – these civilizations have fought their fair share of wars. The brutality of the Japanese invasion of China in the 20th century – an invasion for which Korea was a staging ground – still lingers fresh in the memories of the Chinese and Korean people. But the conditions for conflict are different this time. For one thing, China and Japan are both powerful. In the early 20th century, Japan discovered the difficulties that many of China’s would-be conquerors did when it attempted to take over the Middle Kingdom, but Japan was still by far the superior power. It’s hard to say which is stronger today. China has a greater population, but Japan is more stable and boasts better military and technical capabilities. This has the makings of a balanced rivalry.

China and Japan, moreover, are no longer worried about being subjugated. This may seem an obvious observation, but in fact it is the first time since the Industrial Revolution that both countries have been able to call their own shots. They came close a few times, of course. Japan nearly came to dominate the Pacific but was eventually subdued by the United States. China wanted to conquer Taiwan in a bid for complete unification, but the arrival of the U.S. 7th Fleet to the Taiwan Strait dashed the government’s hopes.

(click to enlarge)


(click to enlarge)

Now, the first signs of the coming Sino-Japanese competition for Asia are reaching the surface. Ignore the things Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Xi Jinping have said to each other recently – their statements seek to obscure reality, not uncover it. Look instead at what they are doing. China is investing significant financial and political capital in the Philippines in an attempt to lure Manila away from the U.S. Japan is there with military aid and support, as well as economic incentives of its own. China sees strategic potential in cultivating a relationship with Myanmar, and Japan is there too, with promises of aid and investment without the kinds of strings China often attaches. Much has been made in the mainstream media about China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, a testament to Beijing’s excellent PR skills. Less time has been spent examining Japan’s counters – resuscitating the Trans-Pacific Partnership, pledging to invest more than $200 billion in African and Asian countries, and announcing various initiatives involving the Asian Development Bank, the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Japan Infrastructure Initiative. China has bullied other powers out of the South China Sea, but Japan won’t be bullied out of the East China Sea. Meanwhile, Japan advocates the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – a grouping of the U.S., Japan, India and Australia – to keep China’s power confined to its traditional terrestrial domain.

The conflict will develop slowly. Its contours are just now taking shape. The United States won’t simply disappear from Asia entirely – Washington still has an important role to play, and how it manages the North Korea crisis will go a long way in defining the long-term regional balance of power. But over the next few years, the U.S. will begin to reach the limits of its powers, and as it does, it will pursue a new strategy that employs skillful manipulation of relationships instead of brute force. It will find that China and Japan are no longer severed from world history but shaping history on their own terms.
60  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GPF: The Coming Conflict Between China & Japan on: December 06, 2017, 08:49:55 AM
The Coming Conflict Between China and Japan

Dec. 6, 2017 As the U.S. nears the limits of its power, regional powers will be more unencumbered than ever before.

By Jacob L. Shapiro

It is easy to forget that as recently as the 19th century, China and Japan were provincial backwaters. So self-absorbed and technologically primitive were East Asia’s great powers that German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel said, “The extensive tract of eastern Asia is severed from the process of general historical development.” His description seems laughable today. China and Japan are now the second- and third-largest economies in the world. Japan’s failed quest for regional domination during World War II and its subsequent economic reconstruction profoundly affected the world. China’s unification under communism and its pursuit of regional power in the past decade have been no less significant.

And yet, for all the strength and wealth Beijing and Tokyo accumulated, since 1800 neither has been powerful enough to claim dominance of the region. Since European and American steamships discovered their technological superiority relative to the local ships in the first half of the 19th century, Chinese and Japanese development has proceeded at the mercy of outside powers. Japan tried to break out, and came close to breaking out during World War II, but was ultimately thwarted by the United States. China, already anointed by many as the world’s great superpower, remains a country divided. The lavish wealth found in its coastal regions is noticeably, if not entirely, absent from the interior.


This state of affairs is beginning to change – and the U.S.-North Korea stand-off over Pyongyang’s pursuit of deliverable nuclear weapons shows just how much. The United States does not want North Korea – a poor, totalitarian state of roughly 25 million malnourished and isolated people – to acquire nuclear weapons capable of striking the U.S. mainland. The U.S. has threatened North Korea with all manner of retribution if Pyongyang continues its pursuit of these weapons, and yet North Korea remains undaunted. It is doing this not because Kim Jong Un is crazy. It is doing this because it figures it will be left standing, come what may.

It may not be such a bad wager. From Kim’s point of view, there are only two ways to get North Korea to halt its development of nuclear missiles: The U.S. either destroys the regime or convinces it that continued tests would call into question its very survival. (For that to work, the regime would have to believe it could be destroyed.)

The U.S. can rail all it wants in the U.N.; it will fall on deaf ears. The U.S. can try to assassinate Kim Jong Un; someone else will take his place. The U.S. can forbid China from fueling North Korea; the North Koreans don’t use that much fuel anyway, and they have already demonstrated they will sacrifice much to defend their country.

One Step Closer

But can the U.S. take out the Kim regime, or at least make Pyongyang think it can? It’s hard to say. There are only two ways to take out the regime. The first – using the United States’ own vast nuclear arsenal – would set a precedent on the use of weapons of mass destruction that Washington would rather not. The second – a full-scale invasion and occupation of North Korea – would strain even U.S. capabilities and wouldn’t have the desired outcome. The U.S. might be able to defeat the North Koreans in the field, but as Vietnam and the Iraq War showed, defeating the enemy in battle is not the same thing as achieving victory. And there is, of course, the question of China, which came to Pyongyang’s aid in 1950, the last time the U.S. fought on the Korean Peninsula, and might well again if the U.S. struck North Korea pre-emptively with massive force.

(click to enlarge)

Limited military strikes are another possibility. Politically attractive though they may be, they can only delay, not destroy, North Korea’s nuclear program. And they would surely enhance Pyongyang’s credibility. Every U.S. attack that doesn’t succeed in knocking out the political leadership would be used as propaganda, spun in the North Korean countryside as a victory against the “gangster-like U.S. imperialists.”

Thus is the extent, and limit, of American power. Around the world, the U.S. has been struggling to execute a foreign policy that does not rely on direct U.S. intervention. This is easier said than done, especially when the issue at stake is nuclear war. Analysts like me can scream until we are blue in the face that North Korea would never use its nuclear weapons because doing so would invite its own demise. But we are not the ones making the decision. We don’t bear the burden of being wrong.

That is the brilliance behind North Korea’s strategy. The goal is to prod the U.S. to react to its behavior – and then to use its reactions to shore up support. And the strategy is working. The U.S. has said time and again that it will not allow North Korea to have a nuclear weapon. If North Korea gets a nuclear weapon, then what good is a U.S. security guarantee? If the U.S. attacks North Korea without destroying the Kim regime – and I believe it can’t – then North Korea can say it defeated the imperialists as it continues to pursue its current strategy. If the U.S. agrees to remove its forces from South Korea in exchange for North Korea’s halting its testing, then North Korea is one step closer to its ultimate goal: unifying the Korean Peninsula under Pyongyang’s rule.

Doing, Not Saying

In every scenario, the conclusion is the same: The United States alone cannot dictate terms in East Asia. It cannot bring North Korea to heel. It cannot make China do what China does not want to do. It cannot even persuade its ally, South Korea, to pretend that a pre-emptive military option is on the table. Japan looks at all the things the U.S. cannot do, and for the first time since 1945 it must ask itself a question that leads to a dark place: What does Japanese policy look like if Tokyo cannot rely on U.S. security guarantees?

The North Korea crisis may not have created Washington’s predicament, but it exposed it in ways previously unseen, to China’s benefit. The U.S. has shed blood and spent untold sums of money forging an alliance network in East Asia to prevent any country there from challenging its power. And so it is the region’s great power, China, not North Korea, that is putting U.S. strategy to the test. Already an economic behemoth, China is rapidly developing its military capabilities. Its newly declared dictator-president, Xi Jinping, intends to preside over a massive transformation of the Chinese economy that, if successful, would make China more self-reliant and politically stable than at any point in the past four centuries. China still has a long way to go – too long before it first loses its political stability, in our estimation – but in the short term, China’s power is growing. Chinese adventurism in the South and East China seas, its strategic investments around Asia, and the continued development of its navy all validate its growing power.

china-japan-exclusive-economic-zones

(click to enlarge)

Its ascendance will inevitably bring China into conflict with Japan. Such conflict is nothing new – these civilizations have fought their fair share of wars. The brutality of the Japanese invasion of China in the 20th century – an invasion for which Korea was a staging ground – still lingers fresh in the memories of the Chinese and Korean people. But the conditions for conflict are different this time. For one thing, China and Japan are both powerful. In the early 20th century, Japan discovered the difficulties that many of China’s would-be conquerors did when it attempted to take over the Middle Kingdom, but Japan was still by far the superior power. It’s hard to say which is stronger today. China has a greater population, but Japan is more stable and boasts better military and technical capabilities. This has the makings of a balanced rivalry.

China and Japan, moreover, are no longer worried about being subjugated. This may seem an obvious observation, but in fact it is the first time since the Industrial Revolution that both countries have been able to call their own shots. They came close a few times, of course. Japan nearly came to dominate the Pacific but was eventually subdued by the United States. China wanted to conquer Taiwan in a bid for complete unification, but the arrival of the U.S. 7th Fleet to the Taiwan Strait dashed the government’s hopes.

(click to enlarge)


(click to enlarge)

Now, the first signs of the coming Sino-Japanese competition for Asia are reaching the surface. Ignore the things Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Xi Jinping have said to each other recently – their statements seek to obscure reality, not uncover it. Look instead at what they are doing. China is investing significant financial and political capital in the Philippines in an attempt to lure Manila away from the U.S. Japan is there with military aid and support, as well as economic incentives of its own. China sees strategic potential in cultivating a relationship with Myanmar, and Japan is there too, with promises of aid and investment without the kinds of strings China often attaches. Much has been made in the mainstream media about China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, a testament to Beijing’s excellent PR skills. Less time has been spent examining Japan’s counters – resuscitating the Trans-Pacific Partnership, pledging to invest more than $200 billion in African and Asian countries, and announcing various initiatives involving the Asian Development Bank, the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Japan Infrastructure Initiative. China has bullied other powers out of the South China Sea, but Japan won’t be bullied out of the East China Sea. Meanwhile, Japan advocates the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – a grouping of the U.S., Japan, India and Australia – to keep China’s power confined to its traditional terrestrial domain.

The conflict will develop slowly. Its contours are just now taking shape. The United States won’t simply disappear from Asia entirely – Washington still has an important role to play, and how it manages the North Korea crisis will go a long way in defining the long-term regional balance of power. But over the next few years, the U.S. will begin to reach the limits of its powers, and as it does, it will pursue a new strategy that employs skillful manipulation of relationships instead of brute force. It will find that China and Japan are no longer severed from world history but shaping history on their own terms.
61  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: The Rapid Rise of Mohammed bin Salman on: December 06, 2017, 08:35:37 AM
The Rapid Rise of Mohammed bin Salman
By Jay Ogilvy
Board of Contributors
Jay Ogilvy
Jay Ogilvy
Board of Contributors
Saudi Defense Minister and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, center, stands for a photo-op with his counterparts from other countries in Saudi Arabia's Islamic Military Counterterrorism Coalition at a meeting in Riyadh.
(FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)
Contributor Perspectives offer insight, analysis and commentary from Stratfor’s Board of Contributors and guest contributors who are distinguished leaders in their fields of expertise.


Something extraordinary is happening in Saudi Arabia. The new crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, or MbS, as many call him, has embarked on changes that could alter the world.

Breaking Taboos

His ambitious plan for the kingdom's future, Saudi Vision 2030 — worked out with help from the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. — envisages a whole panoply of reforms. The measures range from health care and education initiatives to a $500 billion project to build a new city to proposals for treating the Saudi economy's "addiction to oil." Along with reform, MbS is taking on his country's cultural and political taboos. He wants to break the taboo against selling off any part of the Saudi Arabian Oil Co., better known as Saudi Aramco, by floating an initial public offering for less than 5 percent of the huge company. Proceeds from the sale would go toward creating the world's largest sovereign investment fund, which, as MbS described in his first interview on Al-Arabiya television, would "take control over more than (10) percent of the investment capacity of the globe" and "own more than (3) percent of the assets on Earth." MbS is also breaking the long-standing taboo that forbids women from driving.

And perhaps most significant, he wants to break the hold of the hard-line Wahhabi clerics who came to power in 1979, when militants occupied Mecca's Grand Mosque at the time of the Islamic revolution in Iran. Public entertainment has been banned since then, but MbS will bring it back. As he said to a gathering of some 3,500 visitors he hosted at an economic development conference Oct. 24, Saudis "are returning to what we were before — a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world ... We will not spend the next 30 years of our lives dealing with destructive ideas. We will destroy them today." He then vowed to "eradicate the remnants of extremism very soon."

MbS doesn't stop at tough talk; he's equally fond of tough action. In early November he had his minions round up more than 200 of the kingdom's rich and powerful, including 11 princes, and imprison them in the lap of luxury at Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton hotel on corruption charges. "My father (King Salman) saw that there is no way we can stay in the G-20 and grow with this level of corruption," MbS said in an interview with Thomas Friedman. "In early 2015, one of his first orders to his team was to collect all the information about corruption — at the top. This team worked for two years until they collected the most accurate information, and then they came up with about 200 names." The crown prince told Friedman that 1 percent of the people arrested for corruption were able to prove their innocence, and 4 percent insisted they would try to do so in court. Yet the remaining 95 percent of the detainees agreed to return a total of about $100 billion to the kingdom's coffers. As Friedman put it tersely, "You don't see that every day."
Sharp Elbows

The anti-corruption campaign is hardly the crown prince's only tough action. His main rival for the throne once his father dies is said to be under house arrest. The Saudi air campaign in Yemen, meanwhile, is creating a humanitarian disaster. In a long piece in Buzzfeed on Nov. 27, Borzou Daragahi quotes a Western diplomat who served for years in Saudi Arabia:

    "There were all sorts of stories about his personal behavior. It was ambition. He had very sharp elbows. That's what people thought of him, and they didn't want to cross him. What you see is someone who is incredibly ambitious and is prepared to put heat on people to get his own way."

Another person interviewed for the same piece confirms the diplomat's assessment:

    "He doesn't even say, 'Hi' … He says, 'You. What do you have? You. What do you have?' He doesn't have time for niceties. He just gets into business. He's on some kind of turbocharge. He's hyper and he wants to get things done and he doesn't want anyone to stand in his way. If anyone stands in his way, he takes them out."

These accounts don't describe a nice person. In fact, some people in and out of the kingdom see the crown prince as a bully. (He has, however, won over the kingdom's vast youth population, a largely underemployed, increasingly well-traveled, foreign-educated group with waning patience for the heavy hand of the Wahhabi fun police.) But hold on. There may be another interpretation of the young crown prince's haste. Yes, he is a man in a hurry. Then again, Saudi Arabia is in so many ways behind on the arc of history — as a country, as an economy and as a society — that the shake-up MbS is carrying out may be just the kind of "turbocharge" it needs.

When asked how much risk would be involved in his Public Investment Fund, he responded, in characteristic fashion, by asking, "What will the size of the risk be if we did not take such a step?"

Mohammed bin Salman's Growing Power
Thinking Big in a Hurry

Is it a power-hungry personal ambition that drives MbS, or is it a sense of mission? Much of what I read about him reminds me of another man in a hurry, Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, Space-X, SolarCity and the Boring Company. Like MbS, Musk is known for working incredibly long hours. And like MbS, Musk is very demanding of his employees. Interviewed by Ashlee Vance for his book on Musk, a senior employee at Tesla said, "Some people thought Elon was too tough or hot-tempered or tyrannical … (b)ut these were hard times, and those of us close to the operational realities of the company knew it. I appreciated that he didn't sugarcoat things." Vance summarizes Musk's drive for excellence:

    "Either you're trying to make something spectacular with no compromises or you're not. And if you're not, Musk considers you a failure. This position can look unreasonable or foolish to outsiders, but the philosophy works for Musk and constantly pushes him and those around him to their limits."

Neither man is shy about splashing money around. Musk took delivery of a McLaren sports car, one of only 62 in the world. While on vacation on the French Riviera, MbS took a fancy to a 134-meter (440-foot) yacht and sent his agents aboard to buy it for $550 million the same day. If it ends up serving as a roving embassy where the crown prince can entertain other heads of state in a secure environment, it might actually be a good investment, not a frivolous whim.

Both men think big — really big. But that is precisely what some challenges demand. The barriers to entry in the space industry and the automobile industry are immense. You can't get into those industries by taking small, incremental steps. That's why Khalid Al-Dakhil, a Saudi author, historian and columnist for pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat, may have gotten it wrong by saying, "When you want to make changes, especially political and constitutional, you always face resistance. So you want to take it step by step."

As Brinley Burton wrote for NBC News, "'Transformation' is a mantra that follows MbS around." Likewise, Google co-founder Larry Page, one of Musk's good friends, says, "That's why I find Elon to be an inspiring example. He said, 'Well, what should I really do in the world? Solve cars, global warming, and make humans multiplanetary.' … (N)ow he has businesses to do that."

Some understand the truly systemic dimensions of the struggle in the kingdom. "We are witnessing an emergence of a new social contract in Saudi Arabia, economically and socially," Ibrahim al-Assil, a fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, said to Newsweek. "Saudi Arabia is facing many challenges in a region that is full of turmoil and conflicts. Economic reforms won't be sufficient if it's not accompanied by social reforms."

Machiavelli's (Crown) Prince

The sheer scale of the interlinking challenges that MbS is facing call to mind a famous quotation from Niccolo Machiavelli: "One always ought to remember that there is nothing more difficult to undertake, nor more dangerous to administer, nor more unlikely to succeed, than to introduce a new political order." Machiavelli is, of course, famous for endorsing the kind of "sharp elbows" that MbS and Musk wield. As he put it:

    "It is essential to understand this: that a prince — and especially a 'new' prince — cannot always follow those practices by which men are regarded as good, for in order to maintain the state he is often obliged to act against his promises, against charity, against humanity, and against religion."

The descriptor "Machiavellian" is often associated with treachery. But we owe to our own Philip Bobbitt a reinterpretation of Machiavelli that shows how he crafted his philosophy entirely in the service of the public good. He was not interested in defending the power of the prince for his own sake; he was interested in the good of the whole. As Bobbitt notes in his book Garments of Court and Palace: Machiavelli and the World That He Made, "Then, as now, the emergence of a new constitutional order loomed over men whose eyes were firmly fixed on the ground, even as it was shifting beneath them."

Like Friedman in his Nov. 8 New York Times column on MbS, I worry that the Saudi crown prince's ambition and the bad advice of others might lead to war with Iran. And yet, like Friedman in a later column from Nov. 23 — written just after spending over three hours with MbS — I come away rooting for the man.

I'll give the last word to Friedman, whose words, published on Thanksgiving morning, probably didn't get the exposure they deserve:

    "I never thought I'd live long enough to write this sentence: The most significant reform process underway anywhere in the Middle East today is in Saudi Arabia. Yes, you read that right. Though I came here at the start of Saudi winter, I found the country going through its own Arab Spring, Saudi style.           

    "Unlike the other Arab Springs, all of which emerged bottom up and failed miserably, except in Tunisia, this one is led from the top down by the country's 32-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, and, if it succeeds, it will not only change the character of Saudi Arabia but the tone and tenor of Islam across the globe."
62  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glick: State Department drops the ball on: December 06, 2017, 07:56:25 AM
http://carolineglick.com/the-state-department-drops-the-ball/
63  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glick: From Amman to Jerusalem on: December 06, 2017, 07:52:44 AM
http://carolineglick.com/from-amman-to-jerusalem/

Five months ago, 28 year old Ziv Moyal, an Israeli security officer at Israel’s embassy in Amman, was stabbed in his apartment by a Jordanian assailant, whom he shot and killed.

Moyal also accidentally killed his Jordanian landlord, who was present on the scene.

(MARC:  This sounds rather odd to me.  Any chance that this is not the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth?  Is this the same incident that was earlier reported as something about two furniture guys shot by an Israeli or was that a different incident?)

In the immediate aftermath of the incident, incited by the state-controlled media, the Jordanian public was whipped into an anti-Israel frenzy. In short order, a mob surrounded the embassy, to which Moyal and another 20 Israeli diplomats fled immediately after the shooting.

For 24 hours, those Israeli diplomats, led by Ambassador Einat Schlein were besieged.

Despite the fact that they are barred from doing so under the Vienna Convention, Jordanian authorities demanded to interrogate Moyal. By refusing to enable the diplomats to safely return to Israel until Moyal submitted to questioning, they effectively held Schlein and her colleagues hostage.

It took the intervention of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to end the life-threatening crisis. The price Jordan’s King Abdullah II exacted for the freedom and protection of Israel’s diplomatic personnel was high. In exchange for their safe passage, Netanyahu agreed to permit Jordanian officials to be present during Moyal’s questioning by Israeli officials. He also succumbed to Abdullah’s demand that Israeli police remove metal detectors from the Temple Mount, which had been deployed a few days before amid wide-scale violence by Muslim worshipers against Jews.

Since its diplomats were evacuated in July, Israel’s embassy has been closed. Jordan has refused to permit Schlein to return to her duties and has insisted that Moyal be tried for the death of his assailant and his landlord.

It was reported Wednesday that in the interest of ending the diplomatic crisis and reopening Israel’s embassy, Netanyahu has decided to promote Schlein to a senior position in the Foreign Ministry and appoint a replacement.

But Jordan isn’t interested in ending the crisis it deliberately precipitated.

On Thursday, Reuters quoted a Jordanian diplomatic source saying that a new Israeli ambassador “will not be welcome in Jordan until a due legal process takes its course [against Moyal] and justice is served.”

So, unless Israel criminally prosecutes its diplomat who was attacked in his home by a terrorist, Jordan will continue to breach its peace treaty with Israel and bar the Israeli embassy from operating in Amman.

Jordan’s latest round of diplomatic war against Israel took place while Abdullah was in Washington on a “working visit.”

More often than not, Abdullah, who is touted by the US as a moderate leader and a US ally, spends his visits in Washington lobbying against Israel. And, given his reputation as a moderate, he is usually successful.

This week’s visit was no different.

According to the Jordanian media – which he controls – Abdullah is devoting significant time in his meetings with senior administration and Congressional officials to attacking Israel.

Specifically, Abdullah is lobbying against President Donald Trump’s intention to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, in accordance with US law.

By December 4, Trump will have to sign a semi-annual waiver of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act.

The act requires the State Department to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. If Trump doesn’t sign the waiver, the embassy will automatically be moved to Jerusalem, in accordance with the law.

Speculation that Trump may refuse to sign the waiver was raised this week by Vice President Mike Pence. In his speech at a UN event marking the 70th anniversary of the UN vote to end the British Mandate in the land of Israel and partition the land between a Jewish state and an Arab state, Pence made clear that moving the embassy is being actively discussed.

According the Times of Jordan, Abdullah told senior US lawmakers that “moving the embassy… could be potentially exploited by terrorists to stoke anger, frustration and desperation in order to spread their ideologies.”

During his visit, Abdullah also met with Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster.

Although Jordanian media reports of those visits did not include information regarding the possible move of the US embassy, it stands to reason that Abdullah made similar points to Pence, Tillerson and McMaster.

It can only be hoped that Abdullah’s warnings were rebuked by his American interlocutors.

Because, if terrorists are motivated to act in the wake of a US decision to move the embassy, Jordan will hold a significant share of the blame.

To understand why, it is important to remember what happened last July in Amman. Had Abdullah ordered his media organs to either tell the truth about what happened at Moyal’s apartment or simply not report the incident at all until the embassy staff were safely in Israel, the diplomatic crisis would have been averted.

Abdullah chose, instead, to stoke the passions of his people, which wasn’t difficult. Thanks to decades of antisemitic incitement at the hands of his media, school system and religious authorities, the people of Jordan are overwhelmingly antisemitic. And this suits Abdullah just fine. He, too, is largely sympathetic to anti-Israeli terrorism and terrorists.

Last March, for instance, Abdullah rejected the US’s extradition request for Hamas terrorist and mass murderer Ahlam Tamimi, the mastermind of the 2001 Sbarro bombing in Jerusalem.

Fifteen people, including eight children were murdered in the attack. Tamimi selected the Sbarro pizzeria as her target because of the large number of children who frequented the eatery during summer vacation.

She was sentenced to 16 life-in-prison sentences, but was released in Israel’s exchange of Hamas terrorists for captive IDF sergeant Gilad Schalit in 2011. Upon her release, she moved to Amman where Abdullah gave her the red carpet treatment. In her new home, Tamimi hosts a show on Hamas’s television station. She uses her platform to incite terrorism and indoctrinate her viewers to aspire to murder Israelis, as she did.

Several of Tamimi’s victims at Sbarro were American citizens, including 15-year-old Malki Roth and 31-year-old Shoshana Judy Greenbaum.

Greenbaum was five months pregnant when her body was blown apart.

By harboring Tamimi, Abdullah tells his subjects they are right to hate Israelis and to work toward Israel’s destruction.

This brings us to the question of Trump’s possible decision to move the US embassy in Israel to Israel’s capital.

By having his media spew a constant diet of genocidal antisemitism, Abdullah is all but guaranteeing that the terrorism he warns of will occur if Trump enforces US law and moves the embassy. So he is not speaking as a worried friend when he tells his American hosts of the dire consequences of moving the embassy. He is threatening them with an outcome for which he will have significant responsibility.

One of the reasons Abdullah feels comfortable making the argument that moving the embassy will provoke terrorism is because that is the argument that has been used successfully to block the transfer of the US embassy to Israel in the past.

But, in October, we received a clear indication that these Chicken Little warnings are untrue.

In October, Trump overruled Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Tillerson and McMaster, and chose not to tell Congress that Iran was in compliance of the nuclear deal the Iranians were breaching. Supporters of the nuclear deal in the administration and outside of it warned that such a move would have a deeply destabilizing impact on the region and endanger the US.

As the past three months have shown, those warnings were entirely wrong.

The world did not explode after Trump rejected the received wisdom of the foreign policy establishment in Washington. Instead, the US’s Sunni-Arab allies have been empowered to join forces to combat Iran. Economically and diplomatically, Iran is far more isolated globally today than it was three months ago.

Moreover, freed from the need to pretend that Iran is a credible actor in the international community, Trump can base US policy toward Iran on reality.

No, Trump has not mapped out a clear strategy for containing and scaling back Iranian power. If he had, the US would have stopped arming and funding the Iranian-controlled Lebanese Armed Forces by now.

But, at least he hasn’t based an Iran policy on fantasy as his predecessor Barack Obama did.

Moreover, even the limited steps Trump has taken toward developing a strategy for dealing with Iran have been effective and rational. For instance, to protect the nuclear deal and maintain its claim that Iran was formally complying with its terms, the Obama administration paid the Iranian regime $8.6 million to buy heavy water that Iran produced in excess of the quantities permitted under the nuclear deal.

This week, the White House announced that it would stop this practice. As a National Security Council spokesman told the Washington Free Beacon, “The United States is not planning to purchase any Iranian heavy water. We have made it clear to Iran that it is their responsibility to remain under the heavy water limit.”

In summary, disaster did not strike after Trump bucked the collected wisdom of the entire foreign policy elite in Washington, including his top three national security advisers. To the contrary, things improved. By basing his policy on reality, Trump expanded his maneuver room, empowered US allies and began basing US policies toward Iran on reality.

By the same token, if Trump disregards Abdullah’s threats posing as warnings, and disregards the advice of Abdullah’s many friends in Washington, and moves the US embassy to Jerusalem, the sky will not fall. By recognizing the basic fact that Jerusalem is and always will be Israel’s capital, Trump will give himself the ability to develop Middle East policies that are similarly grounded in reality.

By calling the bluff of the myriad experts that insist recognizing reality will bring war, Trump can expand US power, credibility and deterrence in an unstable region. Far from causing a war, Trump can diminish the chance of war by demanding that Jordan and other disingenuous allies stop empowering jihadists and terrorists.

To this end, rather than heeding Abdullah’s threats of violence, Trump can tell Abdullah to prevent that violence by ending his media’s antisemitic incitement; extraditing Tamimi to the US; accepting the credentials of the Israeli ambassador; and reopening the Israeli embassy in Amman.

Truth is a powerful weapon. Once you base your foreign policy on it, there is no limit to the potential effectiveness of that policy in preventing war and expanding the prospects of true and lasting peace.

64  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 92% of arrested illegals have criminal convictions on: December 06, 2017, 07:33:00 AM
http://www.speroforum.com/a/AYKQUQLGYR21/82325-ICE-report-92-percent-illegal-aliens-arrested-have-criminal-convictions?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=QMMLFAGGYP58&utm_content=AYKQUQLGYR21&utm_source=news&utm_term=ICE+report+92+percent+illegal+aliens+arrested+have+criminal+convictions#.WieDs3Zrzcs
65  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dershowitz rejects obstruction of justice theory on: December 06, 2017, 01:51:42 AM
http://www.speroforum.com/a/GLBGLMPVCL16/82314-Dershowitz-disagrees-with-Napolitano-on-possible-obstruction-of-justice-by-Trump?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=QMMLFAGGYP58&utm_content=GLBGLMPVCL16&utm_source=news&utm_term=Dershowitz+disagrees+with+Napolitano+on+possible+obstruction+of+justice+by+Trump#.WiehEnZrzcs
66  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Damage the Media Meltdown does to Democracy on: December 05, 2017, 01:58:08 PM
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/media-meltdown-and-the-damage-it-does-to-democracy/article/2642556
67  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Huma and Mills unpunished for fibbing to FBI on: December 05, 2017, 01:47:00 PM


http://dailycaller.com/2017/12/04/clinton-aides-went-unpunished-after-making-false-statements-to-anti-trump-fbi-supervisor/
68  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Compare and Contrast: Clinton Aides went unpunished on: December 05, 2017, 01:46:16 PM
http://dailycaller.com/2017/12/04/clinton-aides-went-unpunished-after-making-false-statements-to-anti-trump-fbi-supervisor/
69  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Russia booted from Winter Olympics on: December 05, 2017, 01:40:48 PM
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/05/sports/olympics/ioc-russia-winter-olympics.html?emc=edit_na_20171205&nl=breaking-news&nlid=49641193&ref=cta&_r=0

http://m.imdb.com/title/tt6333060/plotsummary?ref_=m_tt_ov_pl
70  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left on: December 05, 2017, 11:57:28 AM
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know , , ,

 grin
71  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Trade Issues: on: December 05, 2017, 11:20:47 AM
The Trade Deficit in Goods and Services Came in at $48.7 Billion in October To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 12/5/2017

The trade deficit in goods and services came in at $48.7 billion in October, larger than the consensus expected $47.5 billion.

Exports were unchanged in October. Imports rose $3.8 billion, led by crude oil and other goods.

In the last year, exports are up 5.6% while imports are up 7.0%.

Compared to a year ago, the monthly trade deficit is $5.7 billion larger; after adjusting for inflation, the "real" trade deficit in goods is $4.1 billion larger. The "real" change is the trade indicator most important for measuring real GDP.

Implications: The trade deficit expanded in October, coming in at $48.7 billion, a larger trade deficit than the consensus expected. Exports were unchanged, remaining at their highest level since December 2014. Imports rose $3.8 billion, hitting a new record high, with all major categories growing except for capital goods. Both exports and imports are up from a year ago: exports by 5.6%, imports by 7.0%. We see expanded trade with the rest of the world as positive for the global economy, and total trade (imports plus exports), which is what really matters, is up 6.3% in the past year, a great sign. Look for more of that in the year to come as economic growth accelerates in Europe and Japan. Better growth in Europe will increase global trade and US exports as well. In fact, exports to the EU are up 11.8% in the past year. Although rising imports are a positive sign for the underlying strength of the American economy, for GDP accounting purposes they mean growth in production is temporarily lagging behind the growth in spending. Because of this, international trade is on track to be a significant drag on real GDP growth in Q4, subtracting 0.5 to 1.0 percentage points from the real GDP growth rate for the quarter. In turn, this suggests real GDP is growing at the low end of our prior range of 3.0 – 4.0% for Q4. Trade is one of our four pillars to prosperity; freer trade leads to improved economic growth over time. And while we have our qualms with some of the talk coming out of Washington related to paring back free trade, there has been significantly more hot air than substance. We will continue to watch trade policy as it develops, but still don't see any reason yet to be sounding alarm bells.
72  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US weapons to Lebanon. on: December 05, 2017, 11:15:31 AM
Some interesting between the lines considerations here , , ,

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/12/pentagon-increases-weapons-lebanon.html
73  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant/Self Intro on: December 05, 2017, 11:12:49 AM
Gents:

We here are bright enough and strong minded enough to glean value from Breitbart, but it is regarded by many as a scurrilous publication-- and not without reason! 

One of the things we look to accomplish with this forum is to have it  as a repository of "the record" so that it may serve as a vehicle for research and source material to use against the Pravdas and the Ministry of Truth.

Breitbart just does not cut it for that.

Please use it only when there are not other sources and please take a moment to scan for irresponsible bullshite.
74  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: December 05, 2017, 11:06:17 AM
PLEASE let's really minimize the use of Breitbart!

Surely there must be a better source for the same info?

75  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Evacutation order proposed on: December 05, 2017, 11:04:08 AM
http://havokjournal.com/national-security/evacuation-order-things-are-getting-real-in-korea/?utm_source=Havok+Journal&utm_campaign=a7325e126e-Havok_Journal_Daily&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_566058f87c-a7325e126e-214571297
76  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: President Trump & Kelly on: December 04, 2017, 11:25:20 PM

By Michael C. Bender
Dec. 3, 2017 7:00 a.m. ET
501 COMMENTS

WASHINGTON—Chief of Staff John Kelly over the past five months has imposed discipline and rigorous protocols on a freewheeling White House. But President Donald Trump has found the loopholes.

The president on occasion has called White House aides to the private residence in the evening, where he makes assignments and asks them not tell Mr. Kelly about the plans, according to several people familiar with the matter. At least once, aides have declined to carry out the requested task so as not to run afoul of Mr. Kelly, one of these people said.

The president, who values counsel from an informal group of confidants outside the White House, also sometimes bypasses the normal scheduling for phone calls that give other White House staff, including Mr. Kelly, some control and influence over who the president talks to and when.

Instead, some of his friends have taken to calling Melania Trump and asking her to pass messages to her husband, according to two people familiar with the matter. They say that since she arrived in the White House from New York in the summer, the first lady has taken on a more central role as a political adviser to the president.

“If I don’t want to wait 24 hours for a call from the president, getting to Melania is much easier,” one person said.
Capital Tempests

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A spokeswoman for Mrs. Trump said: “This is more fake news and these are more anonymous sources peddling things that just aren’t true. The First Lady is focused on her own work in the East Wing.” The White House declined to provide comment.

Mr. Kelly has frequently said that it is his job to control the White House below the president, rather than the president himself. The president’s penchant for what one confidant dubbed “workarounds” to the new White House protocols shows the limits of Mr. Kelly’s approach.

“John has been successful at putting in place a stronger chain of command in the White House, requiring people to go through him to get to the Oval Office,” said Leon Panetta, a White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton who worked with Mr. Kelly, a four-star Marine general, in the Department of Defense. “The problem has always been whether or not the president is going to accept better discipline in the way he operates. He’s been less successful at that.”
From the Archives
Trump's Chief of Staff John Kelly Faces a Tall Task
Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly faces the tall task of reforming the White House. Former chiefs of staff weigh in on how they handled one of the toughest jobs in Washington and how Kelly's military experience may shape the coming months of the administration. The WSJ's Shelby Holliday reports. Photo: AP (Originally published Aug. 4, 2017)

Still, White House staffers say that Mr. Trump’s working relationship with Mr. Kelly remains strong and that the two men appear to have found an equilibrium that suggests Mr. Kelly could be in place for a long time, with the chief of staff focusing on running White House operations while the president takes a freer hand with his own agenda and communications, even if that at times leaves the chief of staff out of the loop.

“This is all just inevitable,” said one person close to Mr. Trump. “It’s not that Mr. Kelly is wrong—we all know he’s terribly competent.”

Presidents have long made a point of staying in contact with friends and outside advisers; former President Barack Obama successfully argued with handlers to keep his BlackBerry to remain in touch with the world beyond the White House. What’s striking about Mr. Trump’s actions is that he is circumventing protocols that advisers say are intended to help him.

Since arriving in July, Mr. Kelly has clamped down on a number of practices that aides say made the White House’s internal operations chaotic in the first several months of the Trump presidency. He has told staff there will be no more patching through calls from Trump friends outside the White House who wanted to weigh in on the news; instead they would need appointments. And he stopped aides from wandering into the Oval Office to try to get time with the president.

Mr. Kelly has never aspired to control the president’s Twitter feed, however, which continues to create news, promote the president’s agenda and draw criticism. Just last week, Mr. Trump’s tweets prompted top congressional Democrats to cancel a meeting to discuss the looming deadline for a deal to avoid a government shutdown. He also​ drew a rebuke from British Prime Minister Theresa May for retweeting videos posted by a far-right British nationalist group that purported to show violence committed by Muslims.

On Nov. 12, with many of Mr. Trump’s senior military and diplomatic advisers arguing for diplomacy with North Korea, the president tweeted that the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, was “short and fat.” Asked about the tweet, posted during the president’s trip to Asia, Mr. Kelly shrugged.

“Believe it or not—I don’t follow the tweets,” he said, adding that he urges White House policy staff not to be influenced by the missives and does not himself use Twitter. “We develop policy in the normal traditional staff way.”

Those who have watched the two men interact said their personalities are too different to ever be very close. “Kelly is too much of a general, and Trump is too much Trump,” one White House official said. But Mr. Trump continues to hold Mr. Kelly in high regard, these people say. He frequently calls out Mr. Kelly during his public appearances.

At a briefing on Hurricane Maria relief efforts in Puerto Rico earlier in the fall, Mr. Trump noted Mr. Kelly’s presence in the back of the room.

“He likes to keep a low profile; Look at him sitting in the back,” Mr. Trump continued. “But, boy, is he watching—you have no idea.”
77  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SCOTUS 7-2 for Trump Travel Ban on: December 04, 2017, 11:18:17 PM

By The Editorial Board
Dec. 4, 2017 7:04 p.m. ET
32 COMMENTS

The Supreme Court almost never intervenes in a case that appellate courts are still considering, but on Monday it did precisely that to allow President Trump’s third travel ban to take effect. The 7-2 order (with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissenting) granted the Administration’s request to block the stay of the ban that had been issued by judges in Hawaii and Maryland. The Fourth and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeal had refused to block the stay, and the Supremes intervened to grant it after the Administration appealed.

This is an important moment for the rule of law. The Supreme Court had already intervened once to rebuke the lower courts over Mr. Trump’s initial travel ban, but judges ignored the warning and kept overturning modified versions with injunctions that blocked their implementation even before considering the merits. Yet the executive has considerable latitude on immigration and national security, as the Justices seem to recognize.

We don’t think the travel ban is wise or necessary policy, but opposition to a policy is not justification for judges to ignore the law.
78  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Mueller's Credibility Problem on: December 04, 2017, 11:16:41 PM
Mueller’s Credibility Problem
The special counsel is stonewalling Congress and protecting the FBI.
Robert Mueller
Robert Mueller Photo: thew/epa-efe/rex/shutterstock/EPA/Shutterstock
By The Editorial Board
Dec. 4, 2017 7:05 p.m. ET
692 COMMENTS

Donald Trump is his own worst enemy, as his many ill-advised tweets on the weekend about Michael Flynn, the FBI and Robert Mueller’s Russia probe demonstrate. But that doesn’t mean that Mr. Mueller and the Federal Bureau of Investigation deserve a pass about their motives and methods, as new information raises troubling questions.

The Washington Post and the New York Times reported Saturday that a lead FBI investigator on the Mueller probe, Peter Strzok, was demoted this summer after it was discovered he’d sent anti- Trump texts to a mistress. As troubling, Mr. Mueller and the Justice Department kept this information from House investigators, despite Intelligence Committee subpoenas that would have exposed those texts. They also refused to answer questions about Mr. Strzok’s dismissal and refused to make him available for an interview.

The news about Mr. Strzok leaked only when the Justice Department concluded it couldn’t hold out any longer, and the stories were full of spin that praised Mr. Mueller for acting “swiftly” to remove the agent. Only after these stories ran did Justice agree on Saturday to make Mr. Strzok available to the House.

This is all the more notable because Mr. Strzok was a chief lieutenant to former FBI Director James Comey and played a lead role investigating alleged coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. Mr. Mueller then gave him a top role in his special-counsel probe. And before all this Mr. Strzok led the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails and sat in on the interview she gave to the FBI shortly before Mr. Comey publicly exonerated her in violation of Justice Department practice.

Oh, and the woman with whom he supposedly exchanged anti-Trump texts, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, worked for both Mr. Mueller and deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, who was accused of a conflict of interest in the Clinton probe when it came out that Clinton allies had donated to the political campaign of Mr. McCabe’s wife. The texts haven’t been publicly released, but it’s fair to assume their anti-Trump bias must be clear for Mr. Mueller to reassign such a senior agent.

There is no justification for withholding all of this from Congress, which is also investigating Russian influence and has constitutional oversight authority. Justice and the FBI have continued to defy legal subpoenas for documents pertaining to both surveillance warrants and the infamous Steele dossier that was financed by the Clinton campaign and relied on anonymous Russian sources.

While there is no evidence so far of Trump-Russia collusion, House investigators have turned up enough material to suggest that anti-Trump motives may have driven Mr. Comey’s FBI investigation. The public has a right to know whether the Steele dossier inspired the Comey probe, and whether it led to intrusive government eavesdropping on campaign satellites such as Carter Page.

All of this reinforces our doubts about Mr. Mueller’s ability to conduct a fair and credible probe of the FBI’s considerable part in the Russia-Trump drama. Mr. Mueller ran the bureau for 12 years and is fast friends with Mr. Comey, whose firing by Mr. Trump triggered his appointment as special counsel. The reluctance to cooperate with a congressional inquiry compounds doubts related to this clear conflict of interest.
***

Mr. Mueller’s media protectorate argues that anyone critical of the special counsel is trying to cover for Mr. Trump. But the alleged Trump-Russia ties are the subject of numerous probes—Mr. Mueller’s, and those of various committees in the House and Senate. If there is any evidence of collusion, Democrats and Mr. Mueller’s agents will make sure it is spread far and wide.

Yet none of this means the public shouldn’t also know if, and how, America’s most powerful law-enforcement agency was influenced by Russia or partisan U.S. actors. All the more so given Mr. Comey’s extraordinary intervention in the 2016 campaign, which Mrs. Clinton keeps saying turned the election against her. The history of the FBI is hardly without taint.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mr. Mueller, is also playing an increasingly questionable role in resisting congressional oversight. Justice has floated multiple reasons for ignoring House subpoenas, none of them persuasive.

First it claimed cooperation would hurt the Mueller probe, but his prosecutions are proceeding apace. Then Justice claimed that providing House investigators with classified material could hurt security or sources. But House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes has as broad a security clearance as nearly anyone in government. Recently Justice said it can’t interfere with a probe by the Justice Department Inspector General—as if an IG trumps congressional oversight.

Mr. Nunes is understandably furious at the Strzok news, on top of the other stonewalling. He asked Justice to meet the rest of his committee’s demands by close of business Monday, and if it refuses Congress needs to pursue contempt citations against Mr. Rosenstein and new FBI Director Christopher Wray.

The latest news supports our view that Mr. Mueller is too conflicted to investigate the FBI and should step down in favor of someone more credible. The investigation would surely continue, though perhaps with someone who doesn’t think his job includes protecting the FBI and Mr. Comey from answering questions about their role in the 2016 election.
79  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / NFL to fund Soros groups with $89M?!? on: December 04, 2017, 10:00:03 PM
https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/dec/4/nfl-inks-deal-george-soros-linked-social-justice-g/?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTVdVeU9XWTJNRGhsWkRSayIsInQiOiJRT0l2NUtHNmdCTTlzSGM1bkNVQjNjTEdFSVwvM21FRjM0dTBET1pcLyswQUh4TEw2QlZKd09na2N4dVZlamR1b2h6QkFyeTlZWVNubFpyNVZDbzkxaFdwWFUwMk1yVldwXC8xV2ZSVTNOYkpVbktsWDh4aUF6Rk0yV09lOWFBU0ppbSJ9
80  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fired FBI agent oversaw Flynn interview, softened Comey language on Clinton on: December 04, 2017, 09:55:28 PM
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/12/04/fbi-agent-fired-from-russia-probe-oversaw-flynn-interviews-softened-comey-language-on-clinton-email-actions.html

81  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: December 04, 2017, 09:50:13 PM
Forecast Update

In Stratfor's 2017 Third-Quarter Forecast, we wrote that U.S. pressure to restructure the North American Free Trade Agreement could push Mexican voters toward populist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Recently, Lopez Obrador suggested he would consider providing amnesty to cartel leaders to stem violence in the country. But considering how vital Mexico's cooperation is to the United States' international counternarcotics strategy, the move wouldn't be accepted lightly by Mexico's northern neighbor.
 
See 2017 Third-Quarter Forecast

Mexico's presidential frontrunner has proposed providing amnesty to cartel leaders to reduce violence, but the proposal would be virtually impossible to implement. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador made the proposal — which would be a significant departure from previous administrations' approaches to security — during a campaign rally Dec. 2 in Quechultenango, Guerrero state. But it is important to note that the suggestion is just that, a suggestion, and may not translate into actual policy should Lopez Obrador be elected. But even if the candidate does attempt to grant cartel bosses amnesty, a mountain of institutional and logistical obstacles will likely block his efforts.

By claiming that his administration will approach public security differently, Lopez Obrador may be trying to appeal to the rural populations hit hardest by violence in recent years. But just how differently the candidate can actually approach security is an altogether different question. Lopez Obrador has said in the past he would move away from a military-centric security approach but has walked back from that statement in recent months, likely realizing the impracticality of the proposal. Similarly, even if Lopez Obrador believes that amnesty would be an effective option against crime, he will soon be faced with the impracticality of it as well.

Granting amnesty to cartel leaders would encounter stiff resistance — both in Mexico and in the United States. Mexico's cooperation against organized crime is a key part of the United States' international counternarcotics strategy and domestic security policies —particularly under the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump. As president, Lopez Obrador and his administration would have to carefully weigh the benefits of negotiating to demobilize criminal groups against the risk of antagonizing a security-minded U.S. presidential administration. In addition, amnesty proposals would lead to major domestic political resistance. And if the Mexican Congress determined that an amnesty law were necessary to demobilize criminal groups, passing such legislation would be all but impossible.

Even if it were legally possible to grant criminal groups amnesty in Mexico, choosing which criminals to give amnesty to would risk opening a Pandora's box full of unending requests and pressure from various criminal organizations. Mexico's criminal landscape has fragmented over the past decade, as several large cartels have broken apart under law enforcement pressure and years of turf battles. Granting any particular group amnesty in Mexico would not guarantee any immediate public security benefits.

A comparison could be drawn to the Colombian government's peace negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). In Colombia, the FARC's internal unity and hierarchical structure helped reduce militant attacks virtually overnight after the group enforced a unilateral ceasefire in July 2015. In Mexico, criminal gangs are highly decentralized and are driven by profit rather than ideology, which could hinder any government-sponsored negotiation to significantly curb violence at a national level. Still, Lopez Obrador's amnesty proposal cannot be dismissed. After all, it is a policy option proposed by Mexico's presidential frontrunner. There are enough obstacles to the successful implementation of any amnesty deal, however, that the attempts would likely fail.
82  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / MLO proposes narco amnesty on: December 04, 2017, 09:49:41 PM
Forecast Update

In Stratfor's 2017 Third-Quarter Forecast, we wrote that U.S. pressure to restructure the North American Free Trade Agreement could push Mexican voters toward populist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Recently, Lopez Obrador suggested he would consider providing amnesty to cartel leaders to stem violence in the country. But considering how vital Mexico's cooperation is to the United States' international counternarcotics strategy, the move wouldn't be accepted lightly by Mexico's northern neighbor.
 
See 2017 Third-Quarter Forecast

Mexico's presidential frontrunner has proposed providing amnesty to cartel leaders to reduce violence, but the proposal would be virtually impossible to implement. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador made the proposal — which would be a significant departure from previous administrations' approaches to security — during a campaign rally Dec. 2 in Quechultenango, Guerrero state. But it is important to note that the suggestion is just that, a suggestion, and may not translate into actual policy should Lopez Obrador be elected. But even if the candidate does attempt to grant cartel bosses amnesty, a mountain of institutional and logistical obstacles will likely block his efforts.

By claiming that his administration will approach public security differently, Lopez Obrador may be trying to appeal to the rural populations hit hardest by violence in recent years. But just how differently the candidate can actually approach security is an altogether different question. Lopez Obrador has said in the past he would move away from a military-centric security approach but has walked back from that statement in recent months, likely realizing the impracticality of the proposal. Similarly, even if Lopez Obrador believes that amnesty would be an effective option against crime, he will soon be faced with the impracticality of it as well.

Granting amnesty to cartel leaders would encounter stiff resistance — both in Mexico and in the United States. Mexico's cooperation against organized crime is a key part of the United States' international counternarcotics strategy and domestic security policies —particularly under the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump. As president, Lopez Obrador and his administration would have to carefully weigh the benefits of negotiating to demobilize criminal groups against the risk of antagonizing a security-minded U.S. presidential administration. In addition, amnesty proposals would lead to major domestic political resistance. And if the Mexican Congress determined that an amnesty law were necessary to demobilize criminal groups, passing such legislation would be all but impossible.

Even if it were legally possible to grant criminal groups amnesty in Mexico, choosing which criminals to give amnesty to would risk opening a Pandora's box full of unending requests and pressure from various criminal organizations. Mexico's criminal landscape has fragmented over the past decade, as several large cartels have broken apart under law enforcement pressure and years of turf battles. Granting any particular group amnesty in Mexico would not guarantee any immediate public security benefits.

A comparison could be drawn to the Colombian government's peace negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). In Colombia, the FARC's internal unity and hierarchical structure helped reduce militant attacks virtually overnight after the group enforced a unilateral ceasefire in July 2015. In Mexico, criminal gangs are highly decentralized and are driven by profit rather than ideology, which could hinder any government-sponsored negotiation to significantly curb violence at a national level. Still, Lopez Obrador's amnesty proposal cannot be dismissed. After all, it is a policy option proposed by Mexico's presidential frontrunner. There are enough obstacles to the successful implementation of any amnesty deal, however, that the attempts would likely fail.
83  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Trump's accomplisments and promises kept on: December 04, 2017, 09:47:57 PM
In that we are using this thread as a "for the record resource" it would be far preferable to use a source more reputable than Breitbart.
84  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Honduras: Left goes Antifa after losing election on: December 04, 2017, 11:58:39 AM


https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-left-sets-honduras-on-fire-1512338216
85  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Corruption, Sleaze, Skullduggery, and Treason on: December 03, 2017, 03:08:12 PM
The integrity of our FBI again comes up profoundly short in a matter of profound importance.
86  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / David Goldman: The West Must Restore a Sense of the Sacred on: December 03, 2017, 03:01:17 PM


http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/node/7031/full

87  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Inbar: The Future of Egypt's treaty with Israel on: December 03, 2017, 08:46:55 AM
The Future of Israel's Peace Treaty with Egypt
by Efraim Inbar
The Jerusalem Post
November 27, 2017
http://www.meforum.org/7051/future-of-israel-egypt-peace-treaty
 
Originally published under the title "For How Long Will the Peace Treaty with Egypt Be Robust?"
 
 
Israel's 40-year-old peace treaty with Egypt has proven more durable than contemporary cartoonists imagined.  Israel is celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the historic visit of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem, that led to the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. The move by Egypt, the largest and strongest Arab state, changed the dynamics of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Sadat violated the Arab taboo against good neighborly relations with the Jewish state and opened the way for additional peace agreements. The defection of Egypt from the Arab military coalition eliminated the option of a two-front conventional war against Israel and saved the Israeli taxpayer billions of dollars. The heavy price paid by Israel to Egypt was total withdrawal from the Sinai and removal of settlements. But, in retrospect, it worked out well, turning Israel into "the land had peace for forty years."

The peace treaty withstood many difficult tests: Israel's strike on the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1982, the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the 1987 Palestinian uprising, Israeli measures against the Palestinian terrorism campaign since 2000 and the Israel-Gaza wars. Even the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt (2012-13) did not cancel the peace treaty.

Israeli expectations for normal inter-state and people-to-people interactions with Egypt were not realized.

Unfortunately, Israeli expectations for normal inter-state and people-to-people interactions were not realized. The rooted cultural and religious barriers to having good relations with the Jewish state have been too difficult to overcome. In the Arab world, Israel is mostly seen as an alien body. For Egypt, this has not changed after 40 years of formal peace. In the absence of drastic change in the Arab educational systems, these perceptions of Jews and their state will continue. Hopes for peaceful relations with Arab countries – such as between the US and Canada – are fanciful dreams. This insight should be taken into consideration when calculating the Israeli price for Arab peace offers.

Moreover, the robustness of the peace treaty is not self-evident. History teaches us that most wars break out in violation of a peace treaty.

The survival of the peace treaty seems threatened by several developments. We have to remember that the change in Egypt's position toward Israel was a result of Cairo gradually preferring the US to the Soviet Union.  Egypt's position toward Israel changed because it preferred the US to the Soviet Union.

Egypt realized that the US had greater leverage on Israel in its attempt to gain back the Sinai. However, its pro-American orientation is not a constant. Nowadays, the US seems to have become a less desirable ally. Its international standing has deteriorated and its Middle East policy, under presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, favors disengagement rather than involvement.

At the same time, Russia has become more influential in the region. Egypt seems to sense the change and now buys Russian weapons. It also purchased two Russian nuclear reactors, which has created a long-term dependency upon Moscow. A change in Egypt's foreign policy orientation also affects its relations with Israel.
The region, whose character is changing due to the ascendance of Iran, also provides reasons to worry.
 
Egypt's pro-American orientation is not a constant. With U.S. influence waning, Cairo has begun buying Russian weapons again.

States in the region are aware of a projected American weakness and are left with only two choices when facing an Iran that cooperates with Russia. They can form an alliance to curb Iranian influence (the choice of Saudi Arabia and most of the Gulf States) or get closer to Iran (the choice of Turkey and Qatar). Egypt is usually seen as part of the Sunni moderate camp that fears greater Iranian clout. Egypt is much more dependent upon financial support from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

Nevertheless, Egypt supported Bashar Assad in Syria – an Iranian ally. If the Gulf region falls under Iranian influence, Cairo might have to adopt a different posture and also look for support in Tehran. This might put an end to the peace treaty with Israel.

Finally, the large growth of the Egyptian military and its modernization is a source of concern. The growth of the Egyptian air force, navy and land forces remains a mystery, particularly with no enemy on Egyptian borders in sight. The investments in logistics infrastructure from Cairo eastwards and the building of tunnels under the Suez Canal seem to have no reasonable civilian rationale. Moreover, the demilitarization of Sinai, the most important stabilizing element in the peace treaty, has been eroded, as Israel agreed to the infusion of Egyptian units into the Sinai to fight the radical Islamic insurgency.

While an Egyptian-Israeli military confrontation is unlikely, we see the emergence of conditions that make an Egyptian attack easier.

Everything must be done by Jerusalem to preserve the peace treaty with Egypt, but Israel should still prepare itself for worst-case scenarios.

Efraim Inbar is president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, professor emeritus of political studies at Bar-Ilan University, and a Shillman-Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum.
88  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Trump team emails w Flynn on: December 03, 2017, 07:38:09 AM
WASHINGTON — When President Trump fired his national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in February, White House officials portrayed him as a renegade who had acted independently in his discussions with a Russian official during the presidential transition and then lied to his colleagues about the interactions.

But emails among top transition officials, provided or described to The New York Times, suggest that Mr. Flynn was far from a rogue actor. In fact, the emails, coupled with interviews and court documents filed on Friday, showed that Mr. Flynn was in close touch with other senior members of the Trump transition team both before and after he spoke with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, about American sanctions against Russia.

While Mr. Trump has disparaged as a Democratic “hoax” any claims that he or his aides had unusual interactions with Russian officials, the records suggest that the Trump transition team was intensely focused on improving relations with Moscow and was willing to intervene to pursue that goal despite a request from the Obama administration that it not sow confusion about official American policy before Mr. Trump took office.

On Dec. 29, a transition adviser to Mr. Trump, K. T. McFarland, wrote in an email to a colleague that sanctions announced hours before by the Obama administration in retaliation for Russian election meddling were aimed at discrediting Mr. Trump’s victory. The sanctions could also make it much harder for Mr. Trump to ease tensions with Russia, “which has just thrown the U.S.A. election to him,” she wrote in the emails obtained by The Times.

It is not clear whether Ms. McFarland was saying she believed that the election had in fact been thrown. A White House lawyer said on Friday that she meant only that the Democrats were portraying it that way.
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But it is evident from the emails — which were obtained from someone who had access to transition team communications — that after learning that President Barack Obama would expel 35 Russian diplomats, the Trump team quickly strategized about how to reassure Russia. The Trump advisers feared that a cycle of retaliation between the United States and Russia would keep the spotlight on Moscow’s election meddling, tarnishing Mr. Trump’s victory and potentially hobbling his presidency from the start.

As part of the outreach, Ms. McFarland wrote, Mr. Flynn would be speaking with the Russian ambassador, Mr. Kislyak, hours after Mr. Obama’s sanctions were announced.

“Key will be Russia’s response over the next few days,” Ms. McFarland wrote in an email to another transition official, Thomas P. Bossert, now the president’s homeland security adviser.

In an interview, Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer handling the Russia inquiry, said there was nothing illegal or unethical about the transition team’s actions. “It would have been political malpractice not to discuss sanctions,” he said, adding that “the presidential transition guide specifically encourages contact with and outreach to foreign dignitaries.”

The only problem, Mr. Cobb said, was that Mr. Flynn had lied to White House officials and to F.B.I. agents about what he had told the Russian ambassador. Mr. Flynn’s misstatements led to his firing in February and his guilty plea on Friday to charges of lying to federal agents.

With Mr. Flynn’s plea and agreement to cooperate with Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating the Russian election interference, the inquiry edges closer to Mr. Trump. The president tried to persuade the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to drop the bureau’s criminal investigation of Mr. Flynn, and fired Mr. Comey after he failed to comply.

Mr. Trump and his aides have suggested that his concern about Mr. Flynn’s potential legal jeopardy was motivated mainly by the president’s admiration for his former national security adviser’s military service and character.

But the new details about Mr. Flynn’s Russia contacts underscore the possibility that the president may have been worried not just about Mr. Flynn but also about whether any investigation might reach into the White House and perhaps to the Oval Office. That question will be at the center of any consideration by Mr. Mueller of whether Mr. Trump’s actions constituted obstruction of justice.

The Trump transition team ignored a pointed request from the Obama administration to avoid sending conflicting signals to foreign officials before the inauguration and to include State Department personnel when contacting them. Besides the Russian ambassador, Mr. Flynn, at the request of the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, contacted several other foreign officials to urge them to delay or block a United Nations resolution condemning Israel over its building of settlements.

Mr. Cobb said the Trump team had never agreed to avoid such interactions. But one former White House official has disputed that, telling Mr. Mueller’s investigators that Trump transition officials had agreed to honor the Obama administration’s request.
Photo
K. T. McFarland made clear in an email exchange that the Trump presidential transition team was intensely focused on relations with Russia. Credit Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

Mr. Bossert forwarded Ms. McFarland’s Dec. 29 email exchange about the sanctions to six other Trump advisers, including Mr. Flynn; Reince Priebus, who had been named as chief of staff; Stephen K. Bannon, the senior strategist; and Sean Spicer, who would become the press secretary.

Mr. Obama, she wrote, was trying to “box Trump in diplomatically with Russia,” which could limit his options with other countries, including Iran and Syria. “Russia is key that unlocks door,” she wrote.

She also wrote that the sanctions over Russian election meddling were intended to “lure Trump in trap of saying something” in defense of Russia, and were aimed at “discrediting Trump’s victory by saying it was due to Russian interference.”
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“If there is a tit-for-tat escalation Trump will have difficulty improving relations with Russia, which has just thrown U.S.A. election to him,” she wrote.

Mr. Bossert replied by urging all the top advisers to “defend election legitimacy now.”

Mr. Flynn, who had been fired by Mr. Obama as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was the point person for the transition team on policy toward Russia and other countries. After Mr. Trump named him as his national security adviser in November, Mr. Flynn began briefing him — some say daily — on foreign policy.

Ms. McFarland, who served until May as deputy national security adviser and is awaiting confirmation as ambassador to Singapore, was sometimes referred to by other transition officials as “Flynn’s brain.” She could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Flynn’s Dec. 29 call with Mr. Kislyak was one of the first formal interactions between the incoming administration and a foreign government. On that winter day, Mr. Trump’s closest associates were scattered around several warm-weather locations.

Mr. Flynn was in the Dominican Republic. Other senior members of Mr. Trump’s transition team, including Ms. McFarland, were at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla. Mr. Kushner was vacationing in Hawaii with his family.

Obama administration officials were expecting a “bellicose” response to the expulsions and sanctions, according to the email exchange between Ms. McFarland and Mr. Bossert. Lisa Monaco, Mr. Obama’s homeland security adviser, had told Mr. Bossert that “the Russians have already responded with strong threats, promising to retaliate,” according to the emails.

In his phone call with Mr. Kislyak, Mr. Flynn asked that Russia “not escalate the situation,” according to court documents released on Friday. He later related the substance of the call — including the discussion of sanctions — to a senior transition official, believed to be Ms. McFarland. A few days later, he briefed others on the transition team.

Mr. Flynn’s intervention appeared to have a dramatic effect. To the surprise of foreign policy experts, the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, did not immediately respond with retaliatory expulsions of Americans from Moscow.

Mr. Trump praised that decision in a tweet, writing: “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) — I always knew he was very smart.”

It is uncertain how involved Mr. Trump was in the discussions among his staff members of Mr. Flynn’s conversation with the Russian ambassador. Mr. Spicer told reporters on the morning of Dec. 29 that the president-elect would be meeting with his national security team, including Ms. McFarland, that day. A phone call that included Mr. Trump, Mr. Flynn, Ms. McFarland, Mr. Priebus and Mr. Bannon was scheduled for 5 p.m., shortly after Ms. McFarland’s email exchange. It is unclear whether the call took place.

Mr. Cobb said that Mr. Trump did not know that Mr. Flynn had discussed sanctions with Mr. Kislyak in the call. After the inauguration, “Flynn specifically denied it to him, in the presence of witnesses,” he said.

Some legal experts have speculated that the contacts during the transition between Trump aides and foreign officials might violate the Logan Act, a law that prohibits private American citizens from working with a foreign government against the United States. But the act has not been used to prosecute anyone since the 19th century. Mr. Cobb said the law “certainly does not apply” to a presidential transition team.

The day after the president fired Mr. Flynn, he talked about the F.B.I. inquiry with Mr. Comey, the agency’s director. Mr. Comey has said the president urged him to drop the inquiry. “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Mr. Trump said, according to a memo that Mr. Comey wrote immediately afterward. The White House has denied that account. The president fired Mr. Comey in May.

Testifying before Congress in June, Mr. Comey declined to say whether the president had fired him to impede the investigation. “I don’t think it’s for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct,” he said. “I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning, but that’s a conclusion I’m sure the special counsel will work towards to try and understand what the intention was there, and whether that’s an offense.”
89  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Tablet/Paul Berman on Bernard-Henri Lévy documentary on the Kurds on: December 03, 2017, 07:05:48 AM
Lefty Jewish magazine The Tablet

http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/250592/realism-and-the-kurds?utm_source=tabletmagazinelist&utm_campaign=ff11d94195-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_11_30&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c308bf8edb-ff11d94195-207194629
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Why do the Kurds and their struggles arouse so little interest or sympathy or solidarity around the world? It is because of the doctrine of political “realism,” of which the greatest theoretician is Henry Kissinger—and, to be sure, Kissinger, as practitioner of his own theory, was the founder of America’s tradition of betraying the Kurds. The Kurds in Iraq in the early 1970s staged a rebellion against the Baathist dictatorship in Baghdad, and they enjoyed some American support. But, in 1975, Kissinger, as secretary of state, deemed the rebellion to be no longer in the American interest, and America’s support disappeared. With what consequences? The Kurds suffered terribly. Baathism flourished in Iraq. And, in time, the United States ended up at war with the Baathists, anyway.

Realism, the doctrine, affirms that, in matters of international affairs, the strong count, and the weak do not. That is because realism entertains a utopia, which is that of stability. And stability can be achieved only by a concert of the big and the powerful. It cannot be achieved by the small and the weak. Therefore realism is hostile to rebellions for freedom, hostile to small nations, hostile to invocations of morality or principle—hostile with a good conscience, on the grounds that, in the long run, the stability of the strong is better for everyone than the rebellions of the weak. Realism is, in short, an anti-Kurdish doctrine.

What good are the Kurds, anyway? From a realist standpoint, I mean. They are good for short-term interests, and not for long-term interests. Kissinger used them in the 1970s, and then tossed them away. The Reagan Administration in the next decade was content to see them gassed by Saddam Hussein. And in our own time? We needed the Kurds to fight the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, and they did fight. They are the heroes of the anti-Islamic State war. They ought to be parading in triumph along the boulevards of Manhattan and Paris. They are, in what appears to be their great majority, visibly the most progressive population in the Middle East, outside of Israel—self-reliant, tolerantly and beautifully Muslim, accepting of Yazidis and Christians and even of Jews, relatively open to women’s rights, reliably allergic to the mad totalitarianisms and apocalyptic fantasies of the modern age. But now that, for the moment, the insane Caliphate has been mostly defeated, our short-term interests have come to an end. And no one wants to hear about the Kurds.

Bernard-Henri Lévy has been telling us about the Kurds. A few months ago in Tablet, I commented on one of his journalistic documentaries of the Kurdish struggle in Iraq, The Battle of Mosul, and just now I have seen his other such documentary, Peshmerga, which might be regarded as Part One of the same film. The two films together are a feat of military journalism, stirring, appalling, and revealing. They are immense—Peshmerga more beautifully filmed, The Battle of Mosul more intense, both of them face-to-face with military courage and brotherhood and death. If these films were a poem, they would be composed in heroic verse. There is, in truth, something Homeric in the films. There are many extraordinary and dreadful aspects. I am writing in the minutes after having seen Peshmerga, and I cannot say that I have rebounded from having watched the prematurely white-haired Kurdish general, who, we learn, was shot and killed directly after the camera turned away from him—the general who seemed so high-spirited as he led his troops in battle, so animated, so confident, whose brother weeps to the camera, the general whose face we see once again as a photograph on a poster, presented as a martyr of the Kurdish cause.

But ultimately the most striking aspect of these two films is the articulation of political values by the Kurds themselves, some of them civilians, the rest of them soldiers. Words tumble from their lips that could never tumble from the lips of the man currently occupying the White House in Washington, D.C. These people are fighting for civilization, and know they are doing so, and say they are doing so.

Civilization, though, is not a category within the realist imagination. Realism is a matter of power, and civilization is a matter of principles. A realist analysis can explain many things, but it cannot explain why the Kurds have persistently fought, over the generations. It cannot see that a persistent rebellion in the name of civilization might amount to power, if only we would give it a chance. A realist analysis cannot see that our own power has to rest on something more than our own power, if it is to remain a power. It cannot see, therefore, what is obvious in Bernard-Henri Lévy’s magnificent films, which is that, in a world of vicious political movements and dangers on every side, the Kurds are our friends and allies, and perhaps they are our conscience. They gaze at the camera. We gaze back. They speak to us. We have nothing to say back to them.

The betrayal of the Kurds—will this be the black mark on our era, similar to the black mark of betrayal that fell across the foreheads of generations past, in the face of other persecutions and struggles for liberty? Twice now I have exited a hall where BHL’s Kurdish films have played, each time with my heart pounding and my head bowed in shame.

***
Paul Berman writes about politics and literature for various magazines. He is the author of A Tale of Two Utopias, Terror and Liberalism, Power and the Idealists, and The Flight of the Intellectuals.
90  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ABC suspends Brian Ross on: December 03, 2017, 06:35:06 AM
https://pamelageller.com/2017/12/abc-news-suspends-not-fires-brian-ross-huge-trump-fake-news-fireross.html/
91  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: December 02, 2017, 10:02:36 AM
Dang,  McCarthy is good!
92  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GPF: Nork capabilities on: December 02, 2017, 09:33:49 AM
Items from Nov. 29

North Korea: DailyNK, an online newspaper based in South Korea, reported that the North Koreans’ command-and-control system is limited in mountainous areas. According to the report, residents in these areas say they get orders from authorities in Pyongyang a week later than people living in other areas. What does the command-and-control system look like in North Korea’s south, where the bulk of the country’s artillery is located? What is the source of this report, and why would this media outlet release this information now?

•   Finding: North Korea’s military command structure is highly centralized, relying heavily on orders issued directly by the supreme leader. Its military doctrine has a rigid chain of command that is meticulously followed. But there are signs that decentralized command is possible during an attack. Each infantry regiment consists of three infantry battalions, each with its own artillery, which helps to ensure that regiments can act independently on the battlefield. We also know that, in the past, North Korea has had a number of unit-level storage depots throughout the country. The existence of these depots suggests that isolated emplacements are expected to continue to fight even without direction. On the other hand, North Korea’s behavior during artillery offensive fire in 2010 suggests that the military operated with a strong centralized command structure. The North successfully used “time on target” tactics. This is when rounds from different units, at varying distances, arrive at the same time on the same target. North Korea also demonstrated a high degree of inter-service coordination, with simultaneous, smooth operation of artillery, the navy and the air force. In preparation for the attack, North Korea laid new communications cable, and it was apparently a high-priority assignment – the work was obviously done using a mechanized trencher.
93  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Egypt and Russia on: December 02, 2017, 03:17:55 AM
Russia is taking another step toward restoring its military presence in the Middle East, announcing on Nov. 30 that it is working on a preliminary agreement with Egypt on the reciprocal use of air bases in each country. Egyptian authorities still must approve the draft agreement, which Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev has signed, but they are expected to do so soon. The agreement would be good for five years and could be extended.
 
Moscow is interested in expanding its influence in the Middle East for three main reasons. First, it wants to gain the leverage and freedom needed to solve broader international and economic challenges on its own terms. Second, it has an interest in containing the threat of radical Islam, which reaches into the Russian heartland. And finally, at a time when Western sanctions are weighing heavily on its economy, Moscow is looking to gain influence in and access to new markets for Russian arms, goods and energy.
 
The strategic implications for Russia are notable. Gaining basing rights in Egypt would allow Russia to project military power into Libya, the Red Sea, the Horn of Africa and the Mediterranean should it choose to. Even if it doesn't use that capability, the mere fact that it has it will give it greater diplomatic clout in Africa. It will also legitimize Russia's presence in the region and make it a more valuable partner for other countries there. Russia is also in discussions with Sudan on the possibility of constructing a Russian naval base there.
 
It couldn't be any clearer that Russia wants to restore and grow its presence in the Middle East, and it has found a willing partner in Egypt. Egypt's relationship with its historical ally, the United States, has soured since Washington temporarily cut military aid to the country after the 2013 military-led coup, as it was legally obligated to do. Though aid was eventually restored, the move was not received well by the Egyptian military, which is heavily reliant on foreign aid. Since 2013, Cairo has been rebuilding its relationship with Moscow, buying heavy equipment, including fighter jets, missiles and attack helicopters, in the hopes of diversifying its sources of arms and reducing the risk that it will again be left to its own devices. That said, Egypt is not interested in replacing the United States with Russia: Its military is still overwhelmingly dominated by American equipment, and many of its officers have American training. Rather, Egypt hopes to gain access to the best each military has to offer and will not hesitate to leverage the two against each other.
94  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: December 02, 2017, 03:05:48 AM
Doesn't the legal language specify that additional charges are not precluded? 

What about the Turkish money Flynn took?  As best as I can tell what he did there was seriously illegal and seriously wrong.
95  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Humor on: December 01, 2017, 04:13:45 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=12&v=kiG8tVQRx5A
96  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bill cracking down on unmasking on: December 01, 2017, 03:21:59 PM
https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/dec/1/house-panel-approved-bill-crack-down-unmasking/?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTlRrellUbGlOR1l3TVdNeCIsInQiOiIwWXErSnpxaUhnQytFWTE1NkI3MzJ2cTY5RVwveXdKc1pjR3V4Y2xlZmN0V2FvQzFSeVc2ZzhpNWgxVzZITmhcL0J6UVdhUlpxb3BWSWhMYWN1UGwxNWxZVnM2TzFQZGZRZEc1RDU0amN5XC80V2QxVXc2blcrRjVwVGY0OURjckhLMCJ9
97  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Humor on: December 01, 2017, 01:51:57 PM
During a recent press conference, a reporter with MSNBC hollered from the press corps,
"Where is President Trump hiding his tax returns?"

Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, astutely responded,
"We've found a very secure place and I'm certain they won't be found."

"And just where is that?" said the reporter sarcastically.

Mrs. Sanders grinned sardonically and said,
"They are underneath Obama's college records, his passport application, his immigration status as a student, his funding sources to pay for college, his college records, and his Selective Service registration."
98  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / October Personal Income on: November 30, 2017, 11:25:23 PM
Personal Income Rose 0.4% in October To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 11/30/2017

Personal income rose 0.4% in October (0.3% including revisions to prior months), beating the consensus expected 0.3%. Personal consumption increased 0.3% (+0.2% including prior months' revisions), matching consensus expectations. Personal income is up 3.4% in the past year, while spending is up 4.2%.

Disposable personal income (income after taxes) rose 0.5% in October and is up 3.2% from a year ago. The gain in October was led by private sector wages and salaries.

The overall PCE deflator (consumer inflation) rose 0.1% in October and is up 1.6% versus a year ago. The "core" PCE deflator, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.2% in October and is up 1.4% in the past year.

After adjusting for inflation, "real" consumption rose 0.1% in October and is up 2.6% from a year ago.

Implications: Consumers enjoyed rising wages and healthy spending in October, following a storm-boosted September report. Consumer spending rose 0.3% in October, a slower pace of spending growth than we saw in September, but remember that September spending was boosted by the replacement of vehicles destroyed by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Spending in October - led by housing, groceries, and prescription drugs – came despite a headwind from slower auto and gasoline sales. Meanwhile incomes rose 0.4% in October, led by private sector wages & salaries as well as interest income. Both incomes and spending have been heating up in recent months, with income rising at a 4.2% annual rate in the past three months, and spending up at a 5.5% annual rate over the same period. We expect to see healthy growth in the coming months, especially if meaningful tax cuts and reform come out of Washington. While some will bemoan that spending has outpaced income growth in the past few months, and has risen at a faster pace in the past year, stories about problems with the consumer are way overblown. Yes, consumer debts are at a record high in raw dollar terms, but so are consumer assets. Comparing the two, debts are the lowest relative to assets since 2000 (and that's back during the internet bubble when asset values were artificially high). Meanwhile, the financial obligations ratio - which compares debt and other recurring payments to income – is still hovering near the lowest levels of the past 35 years. In other words, consumers still have room to increase spending, and steadily rising incomes will continue to boost spending power in the months ahead. On the inflation front, the overall PCE deflator rose 0.1% in October and is up 1.6% in the past year. While that is modestly below the Fed's 2% inflation target, the pace of inflation has been rising in recent months and provides clear backing for the Fed to continue with rate hikes. In other news this morning, the Chicago PMI, which measures manufacturing sentiment in that region, fell in November to a still strong 63.9. Plugging this into our model along with other recent data, we expect tomorrow's national ISM Manufacturing index to show continued robust growth for November. In employment news this morning, new claims for jobless benefits fell 2,000 last week to 238,000. Meanwhile, continuing claims rose 42,000 to 1.96 million. Look for another solid month of job growth in November.
99  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / This looks pretty bad on: November 30, 2017, 05:04:52 PM
https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/nov/30/trump-judicial-pick-didnt-disclose-disturbing-post/?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTldZd1pqRm1aV1psWWpGaiIsInQiOiJHYStpU1Npa29MZ2xCRnlvVlwvVWR0eVI4dTVUc0xsaGZXSlpXcTlEenJjaHhQOVwvbWpZK3JPSlJVb0FPY1JYQlAwcHhsQlc2czlOWHJrQ2pkak5rWVllUHNrcE90cWV2NUFLaTN0blluWHp1VHg3N3NWM2dkeVJKVEI4Tm5PUWxyIn0%3D
100  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media, Ministry of Truth Issues on: November 30, 2017, 01:03:07 PM
And the Weenie Reps are playing right into it!!!   rolleyes angry angry
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