Friday, March 16, 2018

Trump’s urgent Lebanon problem - Caroline Glick

by Caroline Glick

Israeli military commanders and political leaders alike are unanimous in their judgment that Iran controls Lebanon through Hezbollah. Hezbollah controls both the Lebanese government and the LAF.


Since visiting Israel’s borders with Syria  and Lebanon late last month, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has been sounding the alarm about the growing danger of a devastating war between Israel and Iran’s Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah.

Ahead of his meeting Monday with President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters that Iran and its rapidly expanding regional power, as well as its nuclear program, would be the major focus of their discussions.

Speaking Sunday on Fox News, Graham warned that the U.S. has no policy to push back Iran’s gains in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

Specifically regarding Lebanon, Graham warned, “Southern Lebanon is a nightmare. It makes Gaza look stable. The IDF, the Israel Defense Force, says there are over a hundred thousand rockets and missiles in the hands of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.”

Graham continued, “Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon years ago, the United Nations was supposed to police the area. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon [UNIFIL] has sat on the sidelines and watched Hezbollah dominate southern Lebanon with missile technology that now threatens every part of Israel. So it’s a matter of time until Israel strikes southern Lebanon.”

Last month, officers in UNIFIL — the 10,300-strong multinational force charged with preventing Hezbollah from deploying in southern Lebanon — told a French newspaperthat the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) blocks UNIFIL from fulfilling its mission. The officers explained that in undermining UNIFIL’s operations, the LAF is acting as Hezbollah’s agent.

As the Jerusalem Post reported, speaking to the French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, a warrant officer from UNIFIL’s French contingent said, “In the evening we never leave the barracks because the Lebanese forces are not friendly.”

“We are caught in the aggressor’s grip. Doing the bare minimum has become a political choice,” he added.

A liaison officer with UNIFIL who recently completed his tour of duty with the force told the French newspaper cited by the Post, “When we would detect military activities in our area, especially near the Blue Line [border with Israel], the Lebanese Army would prevent us from posting observers. It is as if those decisions did not come from them. Everyone knows that Hezbollah is using the area for the next war.”

A Finnish officer serving with UNIFIL said that some of the UNIFIL forces spy for Hezbollah.

“I can assure you that Indonesian peacekeepers are constantly reporting Israeli movements to various Lebanese actors,” he said.

He also said that some of UNIFIL’s 585 local employees “do not hide their Hezbollah membership.”

The LAF routinely pays homage to, and publicizes its ties with, Hezbollah. For instance, last July, 150 LAF officer cadets visited the Hezbollah museum in the southern Lebanese town of Mleeta. The museum features bombed-out IDF tanks and helmets, and replicas of Hezbollah’s underground bunkers and command posts.

The LAF cadets’ visit to the Hezbollah museum occurred a week after LAF forces participated in a Hezbollah-commanded military operation against a militant group in Syria formerly known as the Nusra Front. As Tony Badran from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies wrote at the time, “It was Hezbollah that laid out the battle plans … including what role the LAF would play in it. And it was Hezbollah’s chief, Hassan Nasrallah who announced the impending start of the joint operation with the LAF during a televised appearance.”

Last April, the LAF accompanied armed Hezbollah forces along the border with Israel.

And last week, LAF Commander General Joseph Aoun threatened to go to war against Israel. Aoun said the LAF “maintains its readiness on the southern border to confront any Israeli military aggression or any attempt to encroach on parts of the territorial and maritime borders.”

Aoun added, “The army has the will to defend Lebanese rights through all the available assets and means, no matter how much the enemy’s threats and provocations may escalate.”

Israeli military commanders and political leaders alike are unanimous in their judgment that Iran controls Lebanon through Hezbollah. Hezbollah controls both the Lebanese government and the LAF.

The Sunni Arab states agree. At an Arab League summit in Cairo last November, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa said that Hezbollah is “in total control” of Lebanon.

He added, “Iran’s biggest arm in the region at the moment is the terrorist Hezbollah arm.”

On Sunday, Bahrain provided further evidence that Hezbollah forces are controlled by Iran. The Bahraini government announced it had arrested 116 members of an armed network established and supported by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC). The members of the network were charged with attacking Bahraini forces, government officials, and oil facilities.

The government statement said that 48 of the 116 people arrested had received training at IRGC facilities in Iran and their affiliated locations in Iraq and Lebanon.

The threat Hezbollah poses to Israel from southern Lebanon is the greatest threat that Israel now faces. And it is made much worse by the fact that through its LAF subsidiary, Hezbollah is the fifth largest recipient of U.S. military assistance in the world.

Since 2006 — the end of the Second Lebanon War — the U.S. has transferred advanced arms to the (LAF) worth $1.5 billion. The U.S. has also trained 32,000 LAF troops and officers.

Over the past 18 months, the shipments have included a startling array of advanced weapons, including: six A-29 Super Tucanos aircraft six new MD 530G light attack helicopters, six new Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicles, 32 Bradley M1A2 fighting vehicles, 200 MK-19 Automatic Grenade Launchers, and 827 Copperhead artillery rounds.

Last August, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard announced that over the previous 12 months, the U.S. had provided the LAF with 40 M198 howitzers; 50 armored Humvees; an armed Cessna aircraft, with Hellfire missiles; 55 mortar systems; 50 Mark-19 automatic grenade launchers; 1100 marching guns, including 800 50-caliber machine guns; 4,000 M4 carbines; over half a million rounds of ammunition; 320 night vision devices and thermal sights; and 360 secure communications radios.

As Badran noted at the time, Richard’s list corresponded with Hezbollah’s wish list. Indeed, last month federal authorities charged three men with illegally exporting drone parts and other material to Hezbollah in Lebanon. The three men reportedly “conspired and attempted to export goods including inertial measurement units suitable for use in drones, a jet engine, piston engines and recording binoculars to Hezbollah in Lebanon from 2009 to 2013.”

In other words, between 2009 and 2013, the three Hezbollah agents in the U.S. conspired to provide Hezbollah with precisely the armaments the U.S. has just provided for Hezbollah’s front group in Lebanon – the Lebanese military.

Rather than accept the abundant evidence that the LAF is controlled by Hezbollah, like the Obama administration, the Trump administration insists that the LAF and the Lebanese government are independent institutions and that the U.S. supports both as a counterweight to Hezbollah.

Speaking at a security conference in Tel Aviv in January, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield stunned his audience when he said, “We will sustain our efforts to support legitimate state security institutions in Lebanon, such as the Lebanese Armed Forces, which is the only legitimate force in Lebanon.”

He added that the LAF “could well serve as a counterweight to Hezbollah’s desire to expand its own influence there, as well as Iran’s reach in Lebanon.”

Likewise, during his trip to the Middle East last month, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson seemed to indicate that the Trump administration accepts Hezbollah’s legitimacy in Lebanon. Tillerson said, “We also have to acknowledge the reality that they [Hezbollah] are also part of the political process in Lebanon.”

After giving a nod to Hezbollah, Tillerson travelled to Beirut. There, he was subjected to public humiliation as Lebanon’s Hezbollah-controlled president Michael Aoun kept Tillerson waiting uncomfortably in front of cameras before he came out to greet him.

During his meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saed Hariri, Tillerson ignored the fact that Hezbollah is the controlling faction inside the Lebanese government and that it enjoys a collaborative — indeed, a commanding — relationship with the LAF. Pretending these hard truths away, while clinging to the myth of Lebanese governmental and military independence, Tillerson said, “Lebanon will never be truly strong and stable as long as Hezbollah continues to act outside the confines of the Lebanese government. Its provocations at the behest of its regional masters like Iran ultimately put the Lebanese people at risk.”

He added, “It is unacceptable for a militia like Hezbollah to operate outside the authority of the Lebanese government. The only legitimate defender of the Lebanese state is the Lebanese Armed Forces.” The U.S., Tillerson said, “has considered Hezbollah a terrorist organization for over two decades.”

Trump administration officials tell Breitbart News that despite America’s continuous supply of advanced weapons to the LAF, President Trump will not bat an eyelash if Israel destroys all of the weapons the U.S. has supplied Lebanon in a future war.

But there are two problems with that assurance. First, Israeli military officials are concerned that America’s vast investment in the myth of LAF independence will cause Washington to demand that Israel not strike LAF facilities and forces in the coming war with Hezbollah. Second, the very fact that the military forces arrayed against Israel in Lebanon are equipped with advanced U.S. weapons systems means that the threat against Israel is much greater than it otherwise would have been.

In other words, American military assistance to the LAF is not possible to dismiss. It significantly degrades Israel’s military position vis-à-vis Hezbollah and Iran in Lebanon.

Senator Graham told Fox News that he is scheduled to meet with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis this week to discuss his concerns about Iran’s growing control over Syria and the threat to Israel in southern Lebanon.

Graham said, “I will meet with General Mattis and tell him that seven senators – four Democrats and three Republicans — believe that Israel is in a no-win situation. The United Nations has failed miserably to protect Israel’s border regarding Lebanon and southern Lebanon. And it’s just a matter of time until Israel has to use military force. And the message is: You need to come up with a policy not just to destroy ISIL but to counter Iran.”

In other words, a year into the Trump administration, there is bipartisan support for Trump and his advisers to end Obama’s policy of supporting Iran and its proxies in Syria and Lebanon, and stand with Israel.

It is well past time — and indeed, it is urgent — that the administration heed the message.

Originally published at

Caroline Glick


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Poland: Jihad in Asylum-Seekers' Clothing - Jan Wójcik

by Jan Wójcik

The case of Mourad T. highlights a crucial concern: the ability of jihadists to pose as refugees, operating freely around Europe to bring about its downfall.

New information has emerged about a Moroccan national arrested in Poland two years ago for ties to the ISIS terrorist, Abdelhamid Abbaoud. Abbaoud was responsible for the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, which left 130 people dead and another 300 wounded.

Polish prosecutors recently revealed that Mourad T. attended a meeting with Abbaoud and other high-profile terrorists in 2014 in Edirne, Turkey. Polish security officials maintain that Mourad was assigned the role of "scout," to identify venues for attacks in Europe. Photos of potential targets and an improvised explosive device (IED) were found in his apartment, in the town of Rybnik. Investigators claim that Poland was not among his targets; he was heading for Germany.

Mourad was apprehended through a cooperative effort on the part of Poland's domestic counterintelligence agency ABW, the CIA and other Western security agencies.

This is not what makes the case particularly worthy of note, however. What does is that Mourad entered Europe with the refugee influx in 2014 by pretending to be a Syrian asylum-seeker, falsifying his date of birth -- portraying himself as much younger, to increase his chances to be granted asylum -- and travelling through Greece, the Balkan states, Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, and finally to Poland. In 2015, he received a residence permit in Vienna from the Federal Office for Foreigners and Asylum, who were fooled by his false identity and registered him as a Syrian refugee.

The case of suspected terrorist Mourad T. in Poland highlights a crucial concern: the ability of jihadists to pose as refugees, operating freely around Europe. Pictured: Migrants traveling along the "Balkan route" toward Germany walk on a highway in Roszke, Hungary on September 7, 2015. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

By receiving official European documents, Mourad was able to enter Poland, one of the countries that has refused to accept more than a few thousand of the migrants that the European Commission demands they take in, under the EU's mandatory quota system.

Warsaw's resistance to the influx of migrants from the Middle East and Africa was explained by Poland's ruling party leader Jarosław Kaczyński in a May 2017 interview with the Gazeta Polska Codziennie newspaper. Kaczyński said that taking in immigrants from those areas would force Poland "to completely change our culture and radically lower the level of safety in our country." He added that if Poland were to succumb to EU pressure to accept refugees, it would be "a direct road to a social catastrophe, with the result that in a few years Warsaw could look like Brussels." Kaczyński also referred to the abuse of women that has increased across Europe with the influx of immigrants from Muslim countries.

Given the situation across Europe -- in Germany, France, Britain, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Spain and elsewhere -- Kaczyński's fears are justified. The case of Mourad T. highlights a crucial concern: the ability of jihadists to pose as refugees, operating freely around Europe to bring about its downfall.

Jan Wójcik, a journalist, is regularly published in one of Poland's biggest news outlets,, and is Editor-in-Chief of


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Arab-Palestinian relations defy conventional wisdom - Yoram Ettinger

by Yoram Ettinger

Western conventional wisdom has systematically failed in assessing Middle East developments.

For example, in 1978, conventional wisdom turned its back on the Shah of Iran – who was the USA Policeman of the Gulf –providing a tailwind to Ayatollah Khomeini, who transformed Iran into the most critical, clear and present threat to regional and global stability, as well as the homeland security of the USA and Europe. In 1981 and 2007, conventional wisdom aggressively criticized Israel for bombing of the nuclear reactors of Iraq and Syria. Until Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, conventional wisdom considered the ruthless Iraqi dictator an ally of the USA, worthy of intelligence-sharing, dual-use systems and multi-billion-dollar loan guarantees.

In 1994, conventional wisdom awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Arafat, a role model of hate education, terrorism and intra-Arab treachery.  In 2010, conventional wisdom misread the volcanic eruption of the anti-Western Arab Tsunami as the Arab Spring, a Facebook and Youth Revolution. In 2012, conventional wisdom turned its back on Egyptian President Mubarak, welcoming the rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest Islamic terrorist group in the world.

In 2018, Western conventional wisdom embraces Mahmoud Abbas as a moderate, in comparison to Hamas, highlighting Abbas’ talk, rather than focusing on his walk: intra-Arab subversion, the terror-oriented K-12 education system, generous monthly subsidies to terrorists and their families, and maintaining close ties with enemies and adversaries of the USA.

Western conventional wisdom, on the one hand, and Middle East reality, on the other hand, have constituted a classic oxymoron.

In defiance of Western conventional wisdom, Arab policy-makers are aware of the
irrelevance of the Palestinian issue to the turbulence, which has plagued the Middle East since the 7th century, as well as the current (2010-2018) seismic developments, which traumatize every Arab regime from Northwestern Africa to the Persian Gulf and from Syria and Lebanon to Yemen and the Sudan.

Moreover, in contrast to Western conventional wisdom,
Arab policy-makers do not consider the Palestinians a crown-jewel, but recognize their intra-Arab subversive, terroristic and unreliable/treacherous track record. 
Hence the flood of pro-Palestinian Arab talk, which has never been supported by the Arab walk.

Consequently, every Arab regime - and especially Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Jordan and Egypt– are not preoccupied with the Palestinian issue, but with the immediate and lethal threats of the Ayatollahs and Islamic terrorism, which could topple them and transform their countries into Iraqi, Syrian, Libyan, Yemeni look-alike traumatic arenas.

For example, from 1979-1989, during the civil war in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia demonstrated its order of national security priorities, investing $1BN annually in the struggle of the Afghan rebels against the Soviet-backed regime in Kabul. This was ten times as much as the annual Saudi foreign aid to the PLO – $100MN.

Moreover, the Palestinian Authority was not among the
top ten recipients of the $33BN foreign aid from Riyadh from 2007-2017: Yemen, Syria, Egypt, Niger, Mauritania, Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Jordan and Tunisia.

While the total Saudi foreign aid from 1985-2015 was $130BN - according to the Dubai-based daily,
Gulf News - Saudi annual foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority was $100MN-$200MN, reflecting the inferior weight of the Palestinian issue in the Saudi order of national priorities.

According to
Reuters News Agency, Saudi Arabia assigned to Egypt a $23BN aid package, reflecting the joint Cairo-Riyadh front against a common enemy: Muslim Brotherhood terrorists. The Toronto-based Geopolitical Monitor reported that a $12BN package was extended to Egypt by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait, in addition to the $8BN Saudi investment in the Egyptian economy.

While the Palestinian Authority claims that Saudi Arabia has failed to fulfill its commitment to the its limited foreign aid package, Dubai-based Al Arabiya TV reported that Yemen supersedes the Palestinians in the eyes of
Riyadh, which has provided the Aden-based regime of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi with $8.2BN aid in the battle against the Sanaa’-based Iran-supported Houthis.

Palestinians have also taken a backseat to Jordan, when it comes to Saudi national priorities, as documented by the Saudi-Jordanian Coordination Council, which is unlocking billions of dollars to the Hashemite regime.

The relative marginalization of the Palestinians – who benefit from a $100MN-$200MN annual Saudi foreign aid package (whenever it is not suspended by Riyadh) – is gleaned through the
CNBC December 18, 2017 report on the House of Saud purchasing a rare Leonardo da Vinci painting for $450MN, an exquisite palace in France for $300MN and a royal yacht for $500MN.

The expanded strategic and economic ties between Israel and the pro-US Arab countries have been a derivative of the Arab order of national security priorities. They have recognized Israel’s unique added-value – militarily and commercially - in their battle for survival against domestic and regional threats and challenges.

Furthermore, the pro-US Arab policy-makers do not forget, nor forgive,
Palestinian subversion, in collaboration with the Muslim Brotherhood, in Egypt during the early 1950s and in collaboration with Islamic terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula in 2018; the murder of Syrian intelligence officers in 1966; the terroristic attempt to topple their host Hashemite regime in 1970; the triggering of a series of civil wars in Lebanon during the 1970s; and the back-stabbing of the most hospitable Kuwaiti regime, through their collaboration with Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion and the plunder of the Emirate.

Therefore, there was overall Arab sympathy with Kuwait’s 1991 expulsion of some 300,000 Palestinians; and the 2006 expulsion of more than 50,000 pro-Saddam Palestinians from Iraq following the execution of the Iraqi dictator.

Therefore, the Arab countries were reluctant to act, effectively, on behalf of the Palestinians – militarily, economically or diplomatically - during the Israel-Palestinian wars in Lebanon and Gaza, and during the 1st and 2nd Intifada.

In defiance of Western conventional wisdom, Arab policy-makers have been increasingly aware that overcoming the mounting threats to their survival, mandates adherence to reality, which has underlined the secondary/tertiary – and treacherous - role played by the Palestinians in setting the Middle East agenda.

Yoram Ettinger


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Let Our Stale Foreign Policy Dogma Leave with Tillerson - Bruce Thornton

by Bruce Thornton

A golden opportunity awaits to bring real change to the State Department.

Rex Tillerson’s departure from the State Department is an opportunity to correct the fossilized received wisdom that for years has hampered our foreign policy. His replacement, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, seems likely to rejuvenate State by bringing a more realist philosophy to our relations with the world.

From the start Tillerson was a dubious pick to implement the president’s policies, and his differences with Trump were predicated on the same assumptions evident in Barack Obama’s two terms. Obama is the epitome of the globalist idealism that dominates Western political and business elites. In their view, interstate relations and conflicts are best managed with “supranational constraints on unilateral policies and the progressive development of community norms,” as Oxford professor Kalypso Nicolaides put it. This “security community” favors “civilian forms of influence and action,” rather than military, and the “soft power” international idealists regularly tout to create “tolerance between states” and to “move beyond the relationships of dominance and exploitation” by mean of “integration, prevention, mediation, and persuasion.” 

Obama’s disastrous foreign policy mirrored these utopian goals, what the New York Times at the beginning of Obama’s presidency identified as a “renewed emphasis on diplomacy, consultation, and the forging of broad international coalitions.” The Times was quoting Obama.  In a 2007 Foreign Affairs article, he highlighted the “need to reinvigorate American diplomacy,” and to “renew American leadership in the world” and “rebuild the alliances, partnerships, and institutions necessary to confront common threats and enhance common security.” These goals, moreover, required toning down expressions of American exceptionalism, which he recommended in 2009, and participating in global affairs “not in the spirit of a patron but in the spirit of a partner–– a partner mindful of his own imperfections.”

Obama’s two terms reflected these recommendations. His foreign policy was one of American retreat and “leading from behind.” The results were disastrous. The abandonment of Iraq created a vacuum which was filled by Iraq, Russia, and ISIS, followed up by the gruesome civil war in Syria and the ongoing slaughter and refugee crisis continuing today. The misguided “multinational” NATO adventure in Libya, ostensibly to protect civilians, instead led to the collapse of political order, the proliferation of jihadi outfits, and the flooding of the region with weapons from Gaddafi’s arsenals, which in turn set the stage for the murder of four Americans in Benghazi. Most dangerous was the nuclear deal with Iran, the fruit of Obama’s emphasis on “diplomacy, consultation, and the forging of broad international coalitions.” The outcome of this leap of faith has been the financing of Iran’s terrorist regime, and enough breathing space for the mullahs to move closer to their goal of nuclear-armed missiles.

Trump was elected in part because he rejected this shop-worn internationalism and its shibboleth of “soft power.” It was strange, then, that he made Tillerson his Secretary of State. As CEO of Exxon-Mobil, Tillerson comes from a world of global business and political elites, where consultation and negotiation––deal-making, not violence––are the mechanisms of doing business. There is no indication from his words and deeds that Tillerson grasped the immense global diversity in cultures, mores, values, and beliefs that are the roots of state action, and that make the “international community” a delusion useful for global commerce and the dogmas of collectivism. He seemed not to take into account that agreements and treaties are not expressions of international “community norms,” but of national self-interest and ideological passions. For most nations, even our so-called “friends and allies,” diplomacy is weaponized in order to serve interests and passions that are radically different from, and often inimical to, our own. 

On Tillerson’s departure he said something that expressed this misguided idealism: “U.S. leadership starts with diplomacy.” No, U.S. leadership starts with prestige, our credibility with friends and enemies alike that we will use our immense military and economic power to help our friends and hurt our enemies. Diplomacy without “swords,” to paraphrase Thomas Hobbes, are “mere words.” The sincere belief that we will use mind-concentrating force against those who seek to damage our own security and interests is the necessary precondition for successful diplomacy. Without that belief, diplomacy, negotiated agreements, talks, and summits become the means for our rivals and enemies to achieve their own aims on the cheap––and for feckless politicians to create the illusion of doing something when the political cost of action is too high.

The two main points of disagreement between Tillerson and Trump focused on differences in foreign policy philosophy. Tillerson and others wanted to stay in the Paris Climate Accords because “we” had agreed to them, and it would hurt our credibility if we withdrew and thus appeared indifferent to the coming global-warming apocalypse. This is the stale and dishonest argument the Democrats used against George W. Bush when he didn’t sign the Kyoto Accords. But such executive decisions are not made by “We the people.” A treaty confirmed by the Senate, those more directly accountable to the people, creates a binding obligation. And even then, any sovereign nation can leave any treaty, which is why NATO and the EU have in their treaties provisions for withdrawal. 

And Trump had good reasons for withdrawing. Like its numerous ineffectual predecessors, the Paris Accords had little to do with alleged catastrophic global warming. Its modest goal of a 2˚ Celsius reduction in temperatures by 2030 was already out of reach by the time Trump took office, and even if achieved would have barely reduced the projected warming. This will not surprise anyone who knows that the whole history of “global warning” has been driven by political and economic interests that came before the “science” (see Rupert Darwall, The Age of Global Warming). And those interests are inimical to our own, especially the hit to our economy that such policies would inflict, as Obama’s “war on carbon” illustrated during his tenure.

That’s why Obama didn’t present the Paris Accords as a treaty requiring two-thirds of the Senate, who being subject to the ballot-box had no more interest in such a costly fraud than the Senate did in 1997, when it voted 97-0 not even to consider the Kyoto treaty. Nor is Trump’s withdrawal damaging to our “strength” or prestige, but rather the opposite: a signal to allies and enemies that we will not damage our own interests just to get some international plaudits for hewing to the global received wisdom about the dubious theory of human-caused catastrophic climate change.

Much more dangerous is Tillerson’s support for the nuclear agreement with Iran that Trump during his campaign roundly denounced and promised to scuttle. Tillerson publicly expressed his preference for the option to “stay in the deal and hold Iran accountable to its terms,” which he said would require Iran to act as a “good neighbor,” a bit of naïveté dangerous in a Secretary of State. The Iran “agreement” also was not submitted to the Senate as a treaty to be approved or rejected by the people’s representatives, bespeaking Obama’s distrust of the citizens. As a result, an anti-Semitic, genocidal, theocratic regime, the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism and up to its elbows in American blood, was given in cash and sanctions-relief a multi-billion-dollar reprieve from accelerating economic collapse, and a clear road for achieving its aims of acquiring nuclear weapons deliverable by long-range missiles. 

This suicidal act of appeasement was justified, at least publicly, by the same old nostrums of idealistic internationalism that motivated Neville Chamberlain in Munich. In a 2015 speech justifying the deal, Obama employed all the worn-out tropes of a “postmodern” foreign policy and its fetish for “soft power.” He praised “our ability to draw upon new U.N. Security Council resolutions” and “hard, painstaking diplomacy––not saber-rattling, not tough talk”; and he decried “military action” which “would be far less effective than this deal in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” relying on the specious argument that all-out war is the only effective use of force. 

And he promoted the goal of reintegrating Iran into the international community, claiming that “the majority of the Iranian people have powerful incentives to urge their government to move in a different, less provocative direction––incentives that are strengthened by this deal.” If Iran takes that chance, “that would be good for Iran, it would be good for the United States.  It would be good for a region that has known too much conflict.  It would be good for the world.” Of course, this is the same Obama who in 2009 sat on his hands when brave Iranians protested against the corrupt, brutal mullocracy, and who thinks that giving fanatics and murderers nuclear weapons will normalize their government rather than empower their aggression.

Tillerson’s replacement, Mike Pompeo, has been clear in his hawkish public statements that the Iran deal is failing and should be rejected: “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state-sponsor of terrorism.” Unlike Tillerson, he has a good relationship with the president, with whom he communicates frequently. One hopes that he will remind Trump that “deal-making” prowess in the business world is light-years from negotiations with state rivals and enemies, where force or a credible threat of lethal force is the sine qua non. He may also encourage Trump to make his policy actions match his campaign rhetoric, and unlike Tillerson, discard a failed foreign policy idealism predicated on naïve internationalism and a fetish for verbal processes. His appointment will be a big step toward undoing the manifold foreign policy failures Obama left in his wake.

Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, a Research Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, and a Professor of Classics and Humanities at the California State University. He is the author of nine books and numerous essays on classical culture and its influence on Western Civilization. His most recent book, Democracy's Dangers and Discontents (Hoover Institution Press), is now available for purchase.


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Andrew McCabe's firing (just before retirement) recommended by FBI Office of Professional Responsibility - Thomas Lifson

by Thomas Lifson

The first disciplinary fruit of the investigation by Inspector General Horowitz

Both the New York Times and Washington Post are reporting that the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility has recommended that A.G. Jeff Sessions fire Andrew McCabe, a mere days before his scheduled retirement on Sunday, after which he would be able to cash the generous pension checks that federal employees receive for the rest of his life. Depending on his longevity, that would amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars or even more.

President Trump warned of this late last year:

Via Wikimedia Commons.

This last-minute attempt at accountability comes as the first tangible disciplinary fruit of the investigation by the Department of Justice's Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who made a referral to the OPR.

Here is the Washington Post's explanation of McCabe's firing offense (Monica Showalter explained this incident for AT readers in much more detail last January):
The FBI office that handles employee discipline has recommended firing the bureau's former deputy director over allegations that he authorized the disclosure of sensitive information to a reporter and misled investigators when asked about it, leaving Attorney General Jeff Sessions to decide whether he should fire the veteran official just four days before his expected retirement date, people familiar with the matter said. ...
Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz has for some time been working on a report that blasts McCabe for allowing two high-ranking bureau officials to sit down with the Wall Street Journal as the news outlet prepared a report in 2016 on an investigation into Hillary Clinton's family foundation, then misleading the inspector general's team about his actions. A person familiar with the matter said Horowitz's findings are what sparked the Office of Professional Responsibility's recommendation, which was first reported by the New York Times. Horowitz's report has not been released, and McCabe denies having misled anyone, a person familiar with the case said.
I celebrate this move to fire McCabe, fearing that, like Lois Lerner, he could be locked into big money for no work despite his misdeeds. His firing for cause at least raises the possibility of impairing or stopping those benefits, though I am not certain that this would be automatic. Generally, federal employees enjoy extensive rights of appeal. A.G. Sessions should act promptly. 

Sundance of Conservative Tree House is suspicious of the motivations behind the leak to two of the most vigorous media critics of President Trump. Given the level of intrigue we have seen within the FBI of late, I can't rule out some sort of set-up of Sessions:
If Attorney General Jeff Sessions fires McCabe, the controversial narrative is that he's desperately doing the bidding of President Trump who has tweeted about McCabe being corrupt and unaccountable.
If Attorney General Jeff Sessions doesn't fire McCabe, the controversial narrative is that Session's is showing more evidence of his own weakness and motive to protect the swamp creatures; which will make Sessions seem like he is in alignment with McCabe and simultaneously anger the President and all his supporters.
Even if this was the intent behind the leak, McCabe must be fired. And the blowback that Sundance fears can readily be dismissed on the basis of the recommendation's origins. But Sundance raises other good questions:
If there was an actual OPR office – containing any semblance of professional watchdog intent – then where the hell were they over the past few years while the entire organization was engaged in brutally corrupt activity[?]

Thomas Lifson


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The High Price of Denial - Douglas Murray

by Douglas Murray

Things have got so bad -- and are so well known -- that even Chancellor Merkel and the New York Times are no longer able to ignore them.

  • They are now admitting what is visible to the eyes of ordinary Europeans may be an admission that things have got so bad -- and are so well known -- that even Chancellor Merkel and the New York Times are no longer able to ignore them.
  • If so, one thought must surely follow: imagine what might have been solved if the denials had never even begun?
Is it possible that mainstream politicians and the mainstream media are finally recognising what the European public can see with their own eyes? Two recent occurrences suggest that this might be so.

The first is a concession by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who almost half a year after her party's embarrassment in national elections has finally managed to put together a coalition government. Last September saw not only Merkel's party and her erstwhile coalition partners suffer a historic dent in their vote-share, but also saw the entry to Parliament of the five-year old anti-immigration AfD (Alternative for Germany) party, which is now so large that it constitutes the country's official opposition. If German voters meant to send a message, it could hardly have been clearer.

Perhaps it was even listened to. On Monday February 26, Merkel gave an interview to the German broadcaster N-TV. In it she finally admitted that there are "no-go areas" in her country: "that is, areas where nobody dares to go." She continued: "There are such areas and one has to call them by their name and do something about them." The Chancellor claimed that she favoured a "zero tolerance" attitude towards such places but did not identify where they were. Two days later, her spokesman, Steffen Seibert stressed that "the Chancellor's words speak for themselves."

Germany's Chancellor, Angela Merkel. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

Although the Chancellor chose to use few words, that she said these things at all is significant. For years, German officials, like their political counterparts across the continent, have furiously denied that there are any areas of their countries to which the rule of law does not extend. Denials have also issued forth from officials in, among other countries, Sweden and France. In January 2015, Paris's Mayor Anne Hidalgo threatened to sue Fox News after the station said there were no-go zones in her city. Hidalgo claimed at the time in an interview on CNN that "the honour of Paris" and the "image of Paris" had been harmed. It was a typically extraordinary claim, which ignored that if the "image of Paris" had taken any battering around that time, it might have been due to the massacre of 12 journalists, cartoonists and policemen at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and the slaughter of four people in a kosher supermarket two days later. So concessions like Merkel's -- as opposed to cover-ups like Hidalgo's -- are to be applauded, slightly, when they occur.

Just a week later, another strange milestone was reached. The front page of the New York Times on March 6 carried a story -- also graced with the page's only pictures -- which nobody could have expected the paper to run. Under the heading "Old weapons rattle Sweden," the paper recorded the recent death of a 63-year old man in the Stockholm suburb of Varby Gard. As the paper records, Daniel Cuevas Zuniga had only recently finished a night-shift as an aide for disabled adults, and was cycling home with his wife, when, spotting a spherical object on the floor he stopped and reached out. It was an M-75 hand grenade; its explosive charge and 3000 steel metal balls instantly killed Mr Zuniga and blew his wife off her bicycle.

As the paper conceded, this is not a one-off event but part of an upsurge in violence -- particularly involving hand-grenades -- caused by the influx of foreign gangs and foreign weapons (largely from the Balkan wars of the 1990s) into the Scandinavian country. The paper quoted a Lebanese asylum-seeker who had previously been a commando in a Lebanese militia. Paulus Borisho, in his kebab shop, heard the blast that killed Zuniga. As the paper recorded:
"That a grenade should be found on the sidewalk outside a kebab shop, a few steps from an elementary school, was difficult for him to take in.
"Now when I think of the future, I am afraid" he said. "I am afraid for Europe".
As well he might be. The paper even had the decency to quote friends of the late Mr Zuniga, who reported that he had complained about recent "changes in Varby Gard" and had been "frustrated that the police did not have better control." Again: as well he might.

Of course, the upsurge in gang violence, and specifically grenade violence, in Sweden has been covered in other media outlets in recent years. These have pointed out the Swedish police's often ridiculous ways of addressing this problem. For instance, that Swedish police chief Linda Staaf recently tried to dissuade gangs from using hand-grenades in Sweden by pointing out that grenade-throwing is dangerous because the person who pulls out the pin could "expose themselves to a huge risk." Papers like the New York Times have taken little interest in such problems -- problems which have got so bad that Prime Minister Stefan Löfven even threatened to send the army into certain Swedish suburbs.

Instead, newspapers like the New York Times have tended in recent years towards the same denialism as Angela Merkel about the problems which mass immigration from the developing world is causing in Europe. They have tended to praise the "courage" of suspending normal border controls while covering over or ignoring the terrible consequences of importing millions of people whose identities are unknown. And of course, like Mayor Hidalgo in Paris, they have tended to shoot the messengers more than report the news, dismissing any such stories as "fake news", "alt-right" or "far right" propaganda.

Just last year, when Donald Trump famously mentioned "what happened last night in Sweden", the mainstream media knew what he was referring to. They knew that he was loosely referencing a report that he had seen on Fox news the night before about the increasingly bad situation in that country. The media, however, chose not to address that problem. Instead they chose -- in the main -- to laugh at the President and ridicule the idea that there were any troubles in the Scandinavian paradise.

Back then the New York Times headlined that President Trump's comments were "baffling", while much of the rest of the media simply pretended that Sweden was a land of infinite peace and Ikea which had been sorely slandered by the President.

The surprise that within days of each other, both Chancellor Merkel and the New York Times have become willing to admit facts which they and their apologists have long pretended to be imaginary could be progress of a kind. It may not, however, be a cause for optimism. Rather than being a demonstration that things are getting better, that they are now admitting what is visible to the eyes of ordinary Europeans may be an admission that things have got so bad -- and are so well-known -- that even the Gray Lady and Mutti Merkel are no longer able to ignore them. If so, one thought must surely follow: imagine what might have been solved if the denials had never even begun?

Douglas Murray, British author, commentator and public affairs analyst, is based in London, England. His latest book, an international best-seller, is "The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam."


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Prager U Video: Brexit: Why Britain Left the European Union - Prager University

by Prager University

Nigel Farage explains the vote that shocked Europe and the world.

Is the European Union good for Europe? Or would Europeans be better off without it? Nigel Farage, a leader of the United Kingdom's Brexit movement, shares his view.

Prager University


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Violence Paralyzes Minnesota School District - Olivia Anderson-Blythe

by Olivia Anderson-Blythe

Administrators do little as school descends into war zone.

MINNEAPOLIS – Safety concerns arise as violence continues to escalate at Southwest High School.

On top of an already failing administration, Southwest High School staff are struggling to maintain peace between students. Last Friday, March 2, multiple fights broke out during the school’s second lunch period. Despite attempts to sweep the issue under the rug and downplay the violence, persistent students and parents forced the administration to address the situation. 

Videos of the fight posted online forced the administration to hold an emergency meeting.

The highly anticipated fight between two students who have been off-and-on friends for years became physical during lunch last Friday. According to school officials, they knew of the impending conflict at least a week prior. The day of the incident, the administration claims that they reached out to the students “every hour” before the fight broke out. Unfortunately, the efforts were not successful and the violence erupted anyway. 

The fight was not limited to the two students, who were reported by classmates to be a Somali-American and an African American. Over 20 students joined the chaos soon after the first punches were thrown and the original videos that surfaced were titled “Somalis vs. Blacks.” The original videos have been taken down due to pressure from school administration. The school’s resource officer was present in the cafeteria. In an attempt to control the situation, school officials put the cafeteria into lockdown for 15 minutes after the allotted 30-minute lunch period, keeping any students from leaving or entering, including the ones not involved. All staff members that were not otherwise occupied were called to action. 

The police were not called, but 15 student resource officers from other schools were called for backup. In an eyewitness video taken by a student, the administration’s inability to diffuse the skirmish in a timely, appropriate, and safe manner was made clear.

As punishment for the students’ actions, hall passes were banned for the rest of the week, bathrooms were locked, staff “runners” were ushering students to the bathroom during class and the upcoming pep-fest was canceled. Many students are frustrated that everyone in the school is being punished for the actions of a few. The teachers and administration refuse to discuss students’ concerns over the incident even if they no longer feel safe at school.

On Thursday, March 8, the Southwest Community meeting, originally planned to focus around other issues at the school, was refocused to address Southwest’s culture. Approximately 250 students, parents, staff and concerned members of the community attended the meeting held by Minneapolis Public Schools district administration. 

To start the meeting off, the area superintendent, Carla Steinbach, introduced herself and the goals of the meeting. 

“We have to be okay with non-closure because tonight might be the first of many meetings. I’m hoping it is actually, it could be an opportunity,”  Steinbach said. 

The superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools, Ed Graff, was not present at the meeting Thursday night. Tara Fitzgerald, the assistant principal of Southwest explained the situation. 

“During the middle of B-lunch, we have three lunches--A, B, and Ca fight broke out between two students. Specifically, two at the far end of the lunchroom and as they started fighting, other students got into the fight to support their friends in that fight. Staff was present throughout the entire lunch,” Fitzgerald said. 

Many parents voiced their opinions on how the situation was handled. 

“[My daughter] does not feel safe at school right now, and canceling the pep-fest, not having passes, and sitting at lunch are not long-term solutions and it is not fair to the vast majority of students who are doing their jobs,” one mother said.

All of the speakers from the school district were quick to dismiss any assumptions that the altercation was racially motivated. Many parents disagreed with the school staff due to video evidence and reports from their children.

Although problems with racial tensions were denied, the speakers continued focus on the issue of race. The tone remained the same for the rest of the meeting. There were no concrete answers and the only solutions offered other than punitive actions imposed on the entire student body were “restorative practices” instead of consequences directed at the two perpetrators.  

Olivia Anderson-Blythe


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