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Diplomacy and defense

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Diplomacy and defense

In one sense, diplomacy is our first line of defense. It is always preferable to have diplomats in civilian attire working with their counterparts around the world to not only promote trade but moreover to keep countries away from each other’s throats over ideological differences.

But diplomacy has its limits. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain honestly thought he could talk Adolf Hitler out of the military conquest of Europe. He fell for the Fuehrer’s lies hook, line & sinker.

Barack Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry were equally naïve and gullible in negotiating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA] with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Donald Trump made the right decision by scrapping this deal which was just enabling Iran to be able to develop and deploy nukes.

Take a quick look at this official U.S. Department of State list of all former Secretaries of State. How many of them do you recognize?

5 of the first 10 plus number 17 went on to become President of the United States. Hopefully you remember Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, John Quincy Adams and Van Buren.

Buchanan was President during the time that led to the U.S. Civil War. No Secretary of State has since become President. The book is not yet closed on #67 Hillary Clinton, but don’t hold your breath.

It would appear that American diplomats are not held in as high esteem nor does being Secretary of State further their political career since the early days of our Republic. In recent decades, the President of the United States far overshadows his top diplomat.

Carter hosted the Camp David Accords with Begin and Sadat. Reagan challenged Russian dictators directly as in Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall [in Berlin]. Obama orchestrated everything for Hillary and John Kerry. Some have already forgotten Trump’s first Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who didn’t make much of an impression on anybody. Mike Pompeo is more high-profile but is faltering somewhat these days. North Korea doesn’t even want to talk to him anymore.

Even with nation states, it is not possible to always sit down and talk out differences. Heck, Republicans and Democrats can’t even work out differences between the two major U.S. political parties. With that kind of negative example, how should we expect anybody else in the world to respect our diplomacy?

But the biggest failure of diplomacy comes with non-state actors. Pretending to be able to talk to the Taliban is a farce. We couldn’t and shouldn’t negotiate with Al-Qaeda or ISIS. Islamic Sharia law demands world domination and the elimination of all human government and man-made constitutions. What could you possibly find negotiable in that stance?

SRI LANKA

Which brings us to the current tragedy on the teardrop-shaped island of Sri Lanka, once famous for Ceylon tea. Credible reports are that both the United States and India provided very specific intelligence to Sri Lanka as long ago as April 4th which even gave the names of suspects who would commit multiple Jihad attacks on Easter Sunday targeting primarily Christians.

Just in the last 48 hours, it has become obvious that the Sri Lanka government is totally dysfunctional. The Prime Minister was not informed by intelligence and law-enforcement agencies of the intelligence information received. There is no indication that churches and hotels and the public were aware of the threat. No law enforcement or military presence was in place to prevent the attacks.

I say that to say this. Alaina B. Teplitz is the incumbent Ambassador from the United States to Sri Lanka and the Maldives. U.S. Embassy is located in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. She would hopefully have been privy to the intelligence information about the Easter Sunday threat.

Between her and her Chain of Command through U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo all the way up to President Donald Trump, why did no one speak out to warn U.S. citizens and others of the impending danger so they could take proper precautions, especially on Easter Sunday?

Now a U.S. State Department Sri Lanka Travel Advisory has been issued apparently due to the threat of a second wave of attacks. It is dated April 21st which was Easter Sunday. Whatever time of day it was issued, it would not appear to have reached potential victims in time to avoid churches, hotels and public places on that date. Exactly where one traveling in a foreign country could go for safety is also not clear.

The art of diplomacy involves not offending national leaders and other countries. But I submit that is a less crucial concern than providing for the safety of Americans abroad. If anything was in the media about the threat to Sri Lanka prior to Easter Sunday, many of us who follow world events closely did not see it.

When diplomacy fails as it did in Benghazi and again in Colombo, we need to re-examine our priorities. A lot has been said and written about what Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton did or did not do on the night of September 11, 2012 when the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was attacked and four brave Americans died. Neither prevention nor response worked as they should have.

Instead of pursuing the Mueller report ad infinitum and ad nauseam, there should immediately be a very serious investigation into how our diplomatic and intelligence channels failed miserably in Sri Lanka this month of April 2019.

DIPLOMACY VIS-Á-VIS DEFENSE

When diplomatic mechanisms fail, then we must resort to our national defense capabilities. We need to take all steps to ensure that Americans in Sri Lanka who have a good reason to be there are safe if there is a second wave of attacks.

We definitely should have sent the Marines into Benghazi. It’s not time to do that into Colombo just yet. But we need to be prepared to do what has to be done if Americans are targeted. We also need to candidly admit that it is American Christians and Christians from other nationalities who are in the center of the bullseye.

Credible reports indicate that Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri who took over after UBL was killed had not long ago declared that A-Q would be looking eastward toward the Indian Subcontinent. As ISIS loses its territorial Caliphate in Iraq and Syria, terrorists will be dispersed into other vulnerable areas.

The dysfunctional Sri Lankan government is particularly vulnerable. It is noteworthy that the majority in the island nation are Buddhist Sinhalese. Islam targets not only Christians and Jews but all non-Muslims of every faith.

United States has to be prepared for further attacks throughout Asia. ISIS was instrumental in the siege of Marawi City in the Philippines.

IRAN

We must not be misled by disingenuous statements by Iranian “diplomats” condemning the Sri Lanka attacks. Iran has long harbored Al-Qaeda. While they found ISIS a competitor for hegemony in the Middle East, mutual hatred for non-Muslims is a far stronger motivating factor than the schism between Shia and Sunni Muslims for domination in the Islamic world. They are both willing and capable to cooperate and work together against the mutual enemy.

The United States Department of State and Department of Defense need to be on the same wavelength. When diplomats succeed, then military conflicts can be precluded. But nothing Neville Chamberlain could have done with Adolf Hitler would have prevented World War II. Frankly, nothing Mike Pompeo does with KJU will dissuade the North Korean madman from doing whatever he thinks he can get away with.

CHINA

Likewise, when our Secretary of State left Hanoi after the Circus Summit between Trump and Kim, he stopped over in Manila to assure Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte that the United States has his back in dealing with China in the conflict in the Spratly Islands.

To say that the current Philippine President is unorthodox and undiplomatic, while true, would obscure the fact that he is at least a realist. He knows the tiny Philippines cannot go to war with a mega-power like China.

But right now he has a dilemma to sort out. Was Mike Pompeo just being a diplomat and saying what diplomats say, or would the United States really confront China militarily when Beijing occupies islands long claimed by the Philippines?

One thing is certain. Trump response will be exponentially greater than the Obama response would have been. But nobody is going to risk global nuclear war over a few specks of land in the South China Sea. Not even for the Philippines which is our closest ally in Asia and was our only long-term colony in the region.

That’s why rather irresponsible statements like saying Washington has Manila’s back against Beijing can lead to unanticipated and undesirable consequences. If such things are said at all, they should be behind closed doors and not made public.

So what is the United States doing to deter China’s worldwide ambitions for economic and military influence, if not outright control? China’s debt trap diplomacy is now moving beyond the Pacific Basin into Scandinavia and the Baltics as Beijing offers to finance an undersea tunnel between Helsinki, Finland and Tallinn, Estonia.

U.S. COAST GUARD

Well for one thing, oddly enough, the U.S. Coast Guard which is part of the Department of Homeland Security now has Coast Guard Cutters in the Western Pacific reporting to the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet, showing up in places like the Taiwan Strait.

South China Morning Post, April 21, 2019, ‘Oversubscribed’ US Navy leans more on coastguard to help counter China

“The coastguard brings some authorities below the threshold of war. We’re US warships, but we look different, with a white hull and an orange stripe.”

While keeping a wary eye on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, United States resources at this point must focus primarily on both the People’s Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Iran. But, those are just the nation states that we must contend with.

TERRORISTS

It’s a lot trickier to deal with non-state actors such as Al-Qaeda, ISIS and an indigenous group from southern India and Sri Lanka that is thought to be responsible for the Easter Sunday Massacre. Our diplomats and other personnel assigned at our embassies abroad need to do their jobs. That obviously would include CIA Station Chiefs under whatever may be their diplomatic cover.

It is significant that the former United States Pacific Command not long ago rebranded itself the Indo-Pacific Command. This was obviously in recognition of the expanding role of the United States military along with the interconnectivity between the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean and the countries around them.

Now, along with U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Defense, the Trump Administration is superimposing U.S. Department of Homeland Security into the picture. New Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenen has his work cut out for him in overseeing the U.S. Coast Guard role in joint patrols with the U.S. Navy to counteract China’s influence.

Oh, yes, plus that other little matter of securing our border with Mexico at the same time. All the while, the U.S. Coast Guard will be hard-pressed to continue drug interdiction patrols in the Eastern Pacific and Latin America as they also shadow China at the behest of the U.S. Navy.

Remember that Coast Guard also does search and rescue missions for boaters in trouble, plus deals with oil spills and water pollution and myriad other non-warfighting duties. It remains to be seen whether using the Coast Guard to augment the Navy is a stroke of genius or whether it is just spreading our resources too thinly.

WHERE THE BUCK STOPS

It all really comes down to the guy at the top and his key advisers. Donald Trump undoubtedly appreciates the requirements of national security far better than his predecessor. So that’s why it’s crucial that he recruit and maintain the right advisers.

John Bolton obviously has the President’s ear. He is more knowledgeable and trustworthy to offer good advice than is Mike Pompeo. Kevin McAleenan would be an excellent choice to be nominated as permanent Secretary of DHS. The President should respectfully consider his recommendations for enforcement posture.

SECOND BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT

Members of Congress need to get their act together. The considerations we’ve been discussing here will have a much greater impact upon the future of our country than anything related to the Mueller report.

Remember, Senators and Representatives, you hold the purse strings to this government. Ponder that when you put your head on your pillow tonight. Cut out the cable talk shows and news conferences. By all means, tweet a whole lot less! Go back to Capitol Hill and do what we sent you there to do. Legislate rather than pontificate!

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Foreign Affairs

Could President Trump establish a real Iran Nuclear Deal?

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Could President Trump establish a real Iran Nuclear Deal

Iran is in trouble. They’re desperate. They’re lashing out against the world in an effort to get attention and, somehow, turn the tide on their economic woes. But while they posture to present a stance of strength, most of the world realizes their strength is only on the surface. Their bank accounts, infrastructure, and economic stability are all dwindling as their people begin feeling the pain.

This can all end. They just have to play with the rest of the world as a mature nation should. They can fix their internal problems while still quietly plotting their caliphate. All they need to do is come to the negotiating table with the United States leading talks to put together a real nuclear deal that will permanently prevent them from ever acquiring or building a nuclear arsenal. This part of the negotiations must be non-negotiable.

As British Prime Minister Boris Johnson noted, the world needs a new Iran Nuclear Deal and President Trump is the right person to get it done.

Boris Johnson calls for new Iran nuclear deal, says Trump is the ‘one guy’ to get it done

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/boris-johnson-calls-new-iran-nuclear-deal-says-trump-one-n1057541British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday called for a new nuclear deal with Iran, saying President Donald Trump is the “one guy” who can broker a better accord.

Johnson chided the “many defects” of the Obama-era agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear ambitions but said he thinks there is “logic” in having an agreement in place.

“Let’s do a better deal,” Johnson said in an interview with “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt, his only with an American network. “I think there’s one guy who can do a better deal … and that is the president of the United States. I hope there will be a Trump deal.”

The Trump administration officially withdrew from the 2015 nuclear pact, known as the JCPOA, last year.

Johnson’s comments come amid mounting tensions between Washington and Tehran after a recent attack on a major Saudi Arabian oil facility. Two U.S. officials familiar with intelligence assessments told NBC News last week that the strike originated geographically from Iranian territory.

The prime minister said the United Kingdom was “virtually certain” Iran was behind the Sept. 14 oil field attack.

To Johnson’s point, President Trump has demonstrated an ability to broker deals very quickly. His administration has put together a series of deals with Mexico and Central American nations to stem the flow of migrants crossing the U.S. border. His USMCA, the replacement for NAFTA, came out of nowhere to surprise everyone with how quickly the agreement was reached. Japan, South Korea, and Australia have all been part of mutually beneficial deals made in the President’s first term.

Perhaps his ability to make deals quickly stems from his willingness to leave bad deals every faster. NAFTA, the original Iran Nuclear Deal, TPP, and the Russian nuclear treaty were all withdrawn from in the first half of the President’s term.

Iran is unwilling to negotiate with the United States, but as international support erodes and their options dwindle, they may have no choice, It would be a huge feather in the President’s cap if he can negotiate a real end to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

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Democrats

Left scrambles to downplay Biden’s words, ‘If the prosecutor’s not fired, you’re not getting the money’

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Left scrambles to downplay Bidens words If the prosecutors not fired youre not getting the money

We all know Joe Biden is a gaffe-machine. We also know he was involved in many of the scandals and foul play that were littered throughout President Obama’s time in the White House. Now, we’re learning that Biden used his power as Vice President to pressure the Ukrainian government to fire a prosecutor who was investigating a firm that employed Biden’s own son, Hunter.

This didn’t come from a FOIA request or deep investigations into Biden’s past. It came from the clumsy presidential frontrunner’s own mouth. While speaking before the Council on Foreign Relations, Biden discussed his dealings with Ukraine, including the threats he made if the prosecutor wasn’t fired.

“If the prosecutor’s not fired, you’re not getting the money,” Biden said. “Well, son of a bitch, he got fired.”

Fox News host Jeanine Pirro and Representative Mark Meadows discussed it last night on her show:

It isn’t often that I disagree with assessments from my team, but this article claiming the media is done with Biden is wrong. He’s right that Biden’s campaign may be over, but progressive media will try to prevent it. There may be some far-left media outlets who were displeased with Biden from the beginning and are now using the Ukraine story to sink him further, but mainstream media is generally still in Biden’s corner. This story from the NY Times, an attempt to debunk the Trump administration’s claims that Biden played dirty to protect his son, lays out most of the facts while coming to completely wrong conclusions, as they’re wont to do.

Biden’s Work in Ukraine: What We Know and Don’t Know

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/22/us/politics/biden-ukraine-trump.htmlThe president has often been vague about the specifics of his allegations, but one detail that he and his allies have repeatedly cited is the former vice president’s threatening to withhold $1 billion in United States loan guarantees if Ukraine’s leaders did not dismiss the prosecutor. Mr. Trump’s campaign on Saturday publicized footage of Mr. Biden recounting the threat.

The prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, was soon voted out by the Ukrainian Parliament.

His dismissal had been sought not just by Mr. Biden, but also by others in the Obama administration, as well other Western governments and international lenders. Mr. Shokin had been repeatedly accused of turning a blind eye to corruption in his office and among the Ukrainian political elite, and criticized for failing to bring corruption cases.

There are two huge, gaping hole in the NY Times’ assessment that he was being pushed out by many in and out of the White House at the time. First, neither the U.S. government nor any other is likely to be concerned about corruption within a sovereign nation’s state prosecutor’s office. It’s just not something we do, and we especially wouldn’t hold a billion dollar loan guarantee back because we didn’t like a prosecutor.

But more importantly, the NY Times readily admits the prosecutor WAS investigating Hunter Biden’s company. His replacement looked into the matter and came to the quick, politically expedient conclusion that there was nothing to see here. That certainly sounds like political pressure being used to subvert an investigation into a company with deep financial ties to the son of a Vice President. It definitely doesn’t sound like the United States government’s sudden desire to end corruption in a prosecutor’s office for the sake of doing the right thing.

No, legacy media is not pushing the Ukraine scandal because they don’t like Joe Biden. They’re pushing the Ukraine scandal because they don’t like President Trump and they believe the American people are too stupid to connect the dots back to Biden. They believe their propaganda machine can offer Biden the cover he needs while pointing their fingers at a phone call, a whistleblower, and an exchange between world leaders that almost certainly did nothing to break any laws.

Democrats and the media are so desperate to push the unpopular impeachment narrative that they’ll take their chances with harming Biden along the way. They think we’re too dumb to see the truth. I, for one, refuse to believe their lies.

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Democrats

Media’s fixation on Ukraine whistleblower means Joe Biden’s campaign is essentially over

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Medias fixation on Ukraine whistleblower means Joe Bidens campaign is essentially over

Former Vice President Joe Biden is still on top of most polls for the Democratic nomination for president. But his campaign is pretty much done. How can this be? One needs only look at recent signs, media reactions, and the rising Ukraine story to realize the frontrunner’s candidacy has very little chance of securing the nomination.

We can talk about the gaffes, mental lapses, and bad press from progressive news outlets all day, but the real sinking of the ship is ironically coming from a story that’s supposed to be targeting President Trump. Democrats and the media alike are calling for transparency about a whistleblower complaint lodged against the President’s handling of phone calls with the Ukrainian government. In those calls, the President allegedly made “concerning” promises in exchange for dirt on the former Vice President, specifically his handling of his son’s legal troubles there.

But while the media and Democrats are pointing to collusion once again, the American people are wondering what Ukraine has on Biden that would prompt the President to allegedly make these promises. The President noted this and pointed to the real story that should (and in many cases does) have the attention of the American people.

Unlike other candidates, Biden doesn’t receive the same degree of cover for his past exploits. The far left and the media are willing to keep Elizabeth Warren protected from having to declare that her Medicare-for-All plan will raise taxes on the middle class and Kamala Harris may never have to answer for her harsh criminal justice record before joining the Senate, but Biden’s sins are fair game to the press. Why? Because they are buying into the notion that he may not be the best candidate to take on President Trump. If they collectively believed he had the stamina to make it through the general election, they’d be burying the Ukraine story. But they won’t.

Congressman Devin Nunes echoed this point Sunday morning:

Biden’s campaign likely coming to an end — thanks to Clinton-linked Ukraine bombshell, Nunes says | Fox News

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/bidens-campaign-coming-to-an-end-thanks-to-ukraine-story-linked-to-hillary-clinton-nunes-saysCalifornia Rep. Devin Nunes predicted on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” that Joe Biden’s campaign is likely coming to an end — all because of newly resurfaced reports about his possible misconduct in Ukraine that “first originated back when Hillary Clinton was trying to make sure Biden didn’t get in the race.”

The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee made the claim as The Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom poll showed Sen. Elizabeth Warren surging ahead of Biden as the first choice of 22 percent of the voters surveyed, while Biden was the first choice of 20 percent of the voters. Biden held a 9-point lead over Warren in the poll as recently as June.

Nunes, speaking to anchor Maria Bartiromo, said a whistleblower’s allegation that President Trump had acted inappropriately during a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will ultimately backfire, and shine a light on Biden’s own possible misconduct. CNN later acknowledged that the whistleblower had no first-hand knowledge of the call, and a top Ukrainian official on Saturday defended Trump’s actions.

If taking a shot at hurting the President means eliminating Biden in the process, it’s a fair trade to most in the media. They just don’t have the confidence in Biden that they had a couple of months ago.

This, more than anything else, is why Biden’s political career is over. This story is going to stay in the news and while it’s unlikely to do any damage at all to the President, it will sink the Democratic frontrunner.

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