Tribute to the United States Navy in honor for all that have served, and as a tribute to all those currently serving, and those who will soon serve duty in the United States Navy..
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A former CIA officer convicted of leaking details of a secret mission to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions is making his final pitch for a lenient sentence.
Jeffrey Sterling of O’Fallon, Missouri, is scheduled for sentencing Monday afternoon in federal court near Washington.
He faces a recommended sentence of 20 years or more under federal sentencing guidelines for violations of the Espionage Act. A jury convicted him of telling New York Times journalist James Risen about a classified plan to trick the Iranian government by slipping flawed nuclear blueprints through a Russian intermediary. Read the rest of this entry »
Bill Gertz reports: China’s military plans to produce nearly 42,000 land-based and sea-based unmanned weapons and sensor platforms as part of its continuing, large-scale military buildup, the Pentagon’s annual report on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) disclosed Friday.
“Together with the increased mobility and survivability of the new generation of missiles, these technologies and training enhancements strengthen China’s nuclear force and bolster its strategic strike capabilities.”
China currently operates several armed and unarmed drone aircraft and is developing long-range range unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for both intelligence gathering and bombing attacks.
“The acquisition and development of longer-range UAVs will increase China’s ability to conduct long-range reconnaissance and strike operations,” the report said.
China’s ability to use drones is increasing and the report said China “plans to produce upwards of 41,800 land- and sea-based unmanned systems, worth about $10.5 billion, between 2014 and 2023.”
“The Lijian, which first flew on Nov. 21, 2013, is China’s first stealthy flying wing UAV.”
Four UAVs under development include the Xianglong, Yilong, Sky Saber, and Lijian, with the latter three drones configured to fire precision-strike weapons.
“The Lijian, which first flew on Nov. 21, 2013, is China’s first stealthy flying wing UAV,” the report said.
The drone buildup is part of what the Pentagon identified as a decades-long military buildup that last year produced new multi-warhead missiles and a large number of submarines and ships.
“China will likely continue to invest considerable resources to maintain a limited, but survivable, nuclear force to ensure the PLA can deliver a damaging responsive nuclear strike.”
Additionally, the Pentagon for the first time confirmed China’s development of an ultra-high speed maneuvering strike vehicle as part of its growing strategic nuclear arsenal.
“China is working on a range of technologies to attempt to counter U.S. and other countries’ ballistic missile defense systems, including maneuverable reentry vehicles (MaRV), [multiple, independently targetable reentry vehicles], decoys, chaff, jamming, and thermal shielding,” the report, made public Friday, states.
“The United States and China acknowledge that the Chinese tested a hypersonic glide vehicle in 2014,” the report noted.
It was the first time the Pentagon confirmed the existence of what is known as the Wu-14 hypersonic glide vehicle, a strike weapon that travels at the edge of space at nearly 10 times the speed of sound.
The Wu-14, designed to deliver nuclear weapons through U.S. missile defenses, was first disclosed by the Washington Free Beacon, which reported on three tests conducted in 2014.
“Together with the increased mobility and survivability of the new generation of missiles, these technologies and training enhancements strengthen China’s nuclear force and bolster its strategic strike capabilities,” the report said. Read the rest of this entry »
Christine Mai-Duc reports: Iran has released a commercial cargo ship more than a week after it was seized by Iranian naval forces, the ship operator confirmed Thursday.
The Maersk Tigris, which was seized on April 28, was freed by Iranian officials after a court order, according to Cor Radings, a spokesman for Rickmers Shipmanagement, which manages and crews the vessel. Iran’s Ports and Maritive Organization confirmed the ship’s release.
The ship’s 24 crew members are in good condition, the company said in a statement. Radings added that “absolutely no violence” was used by the crew’s Iranian captors during the incident. The ship will now continue on to the port of Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates, where company officials will meet and attend to the crew.
“Given the circumstances, they were treated in a fair way,” Radings told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday. Read the rest of this entry »
— National Review (@NRO) May 4, 2015
“Really, we just don’t understand the French.”
— Obama’s staff response, According to Luzier
Charlie Hebdo to meet with and draw President Barack Obama in the aftermath of the bloody terrorist attack on the publication’s offices in Paris.The White House on Friday denied a report in a French magazine that the administration invited staffers from the satirical weekly
“The idea was to have folks from Charlie to the White House. An interview? Awesome.”
Rénald Luzier, better known by his pen name, Luz, told the French magazine Les Inrockuptibles that U.S. officials conceived of the visit as a way to make up for the absence of a top American official at a march in support for Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 11, one week after the attack.
“We would have gone there directly. Except that they wanted to have a cartoonist come to draw Obama. This isn’t Montmartre. I said, ‘If he comes to Paris, I’ll put Budweiser in the fridge and I’ll draw him.’”
— Rénald Luzier
U.S. Ambassador Jane Hartley attended the demonstration, along with leaders of Germany, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
“We have seen some reports that a Charlie Hebdo staffer claims to have received, and declined, an invitation to the White House. These reports are not true. No such invitation was ever extended.”
— White House official, on condition of anonymity
But the absence of Obama, Vice President Joe Biden or Secretary of State John Kerry led to accusations from American conservatives that the president was turning his back on freedom of speech. The attack, by two brothers of Algerian descent, was in apparent retaliation for cartoons that many Muslims saw as blasphemous. Twelve people were shot to death and 11 injured.
“Obama didn’t send an important representative, and sending John Kerry to see [French President François] Hollande wasn’t enough,” Luzier said. Read the rest of this entry »
U.S. defense officials say U.S. Navy ships will begin accompanying U.S.-flagged commercial ships when they transit the Strait of Hormuz.
The move is in response to what Washington views as provocative Iranian behavior in the Persian Gulf. Earlier this week Iranian naval vessels reportedly fired warning shots near a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship and have detained it and its crew. Iranian officials say the Maersk shipping line owes it money…(read more)
UPDATE: Contact Made With Crew of Ship Detained by Iran: Sailors on Maersk Tigris in Good Condition but Confined to CabinsPosted: April 29, 2015
DUBAI— Asa Fitch reports: The manager of a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship Iran seized in the Persian Gulf said its crew members were in good condition, but were confined by guards to their cabins and the ship’s mess area.
“They’re all in relatively good condition, but it’s not a good situation and is still of concern to us.”
Rickmers Shipmanagement, the Singapore-based global shipping company that operates the M/V Maersk Tigris, had brief phone contact with the crew of 24, most of whom are from Eastern Europe and Asia, said Cor Radings, Rickmers’ spokesman.
“They’re all in relatively good condition, but it’s not a good situation and is still of concern to us,” Mr. Radings said. He added that the company was working with “international parties and experts” to secure the ship’s release, although he declined to provide details of that effort.
“Cargo-vessel seizures are a rarity in the Gulf, through which hundreds of ships carrying oil exports travel each day.”
On Tuesday, an Iranian patrol fired warning shots over the bow of the Maersk Tigris and directed it to a rendezvous point close to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, said U.S. officials and Rickmers. Rickmers said the ship was in international waters at the time.
In response to a distress call by the Maersk Tigris, the U.S. sent a Navy destroyer Tuesday to the Strait of Hormuz, the 21-mile-wide passage through which 30% of the world’s seaborne oil shipments pass.
“The seizure comes as conflict in Yemen has heightened tensions with Saudi Arabia, which sits on the southwestern shore of the Gulf, and Iran, which sits across from it.”
On Wednesday, the USS Farragut and three other smaller Navy ships were keeping watch on the strait and sending surveillance planes overhead, said Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.
Under agreements between the U.S. and Marshall Islands, Col. Warren said the military had a treaty obligation to protect the Maersk Tigris, but said the U.S. was pursuing diplomatic options to resolve the confrontation.
Pentagon officials said Iran’s intentions in seizing the cargo ship were unclear. Some officials said they saw the move as an effort by Tehran to demonstrate its ability to control the strait after the U.S. military moved an aircraft carrier through the region as a warning to Iran to turn back a flotilla suspected of carrying weapons bound for Tehran’s allies in Yemen. Read the rest of this entry »
Ankit Panda writes: A 65,000 ton, Danish-owned, Singapore-chartered, container ship, en route to the United Arab Emirates from Saudi Arabia, manned mostly by Eastern European and Asian sailors, is intercepted, boarded, and confiscated by the Iranian navy, prompting a U.S. destroyer to investigate.*
“Iran’s reasons for seizing the ship were at first unclear. Speculation abounded that the incident was a show of force intended to strike back at the United States after it sent the USS Theodore Roosevelt to intercept an Iranian arms shipment to Yemen’s Houthis last week.”
That wasn’t an anecdote from Tom Friedman’s next book on globalization–it’s a rough description of what took place on Tuesday, April 28, in the strategically important sea lanes of the Strait of Hormuz.
“Additionally, others suggested that the seizure could have been a move by hardliners opposing Iran’s negotiations with the West over its nuclear program – an attempt to spark a broader crisis to derail those talks.”
Allow me to get into the details:
The shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz have long been highlighted as a potential flashpoint amid the simmering geopolitical tensions between the United States and Iran. Its waters are of particular geostrategic significance given that over a third of the world’s petroleum traded by sea passes through the region. Iran has repeatedly emphasized its dominance over the waters, threatening to blockade the strait in a time of crisis. Today, we saw an acute manifestation of Iran’s audacity when the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) seized and escorted the Marshall Islands-flagged MV Maersk Tigris, a shipping vessel belonging to Denmark’s A.P. Moller–Maersk Group and chartered by Singapore-based Rickmers Shipmanagement, toward the Iranian port at Bandar Abbas.
The incident sparked a response by U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), which ordered the USS Farragut, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer that was 60 miles from the point of the Tigris’ interception, to respond to the vessel’s distress signal. The incident took place as Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif led a delegation to New York City for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference at the United Nations, meeting with Western diplomats on the sidelines to discuss the ongoing P5+1 talks over his country’s nuclear program.
Saudi Arabia-backed, UAE-based Al Arabiya was among the first sources to break the news in English. It reported that Iran had fired warning shots (true) and seized a U.S.-flagged vessel (false). Nevertheless, the initial reports sparked considerable online panic at the prospect that the United States and Iran could be headed for a major confrontation. The report also noted that the crew of the ship numbered 34 and were American. Needless to say, U.S. citizens being held against their will by Iran hits a raw nerve for the United States given certain historical events. We’ve since learned, thanks to Reuters, that the Tigris’ has a crew of 24, most of whom hail “from Eastern Europe and Asia.” Read the rest of this entry »
Pentagon officials say the US is monitoring the seizure by Iran of a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship
A Pentagon spokesman told Reuters Iranian forces had boarded a Marshall Island-flagged vessel, the MV Maersk Tigris, in the Gulf. He said the boarding occurred after Iranian patrol boats fired shots across the vessel’s bow and ordered it deeper into Iranian waters.
U.S. planes and a destroyer were monitoring the situation after the vessel, the MV Maersk Tigris, made a distress call in the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s most important oil shipping channels.
The ship had no U.S. citizens aboard, the spokesman said, contradicting earlier reports which said there were 34 U.S. sailors on board.
Reuters tracking data showed the Maersk, a 65,000-tonne container ship, off the Iranian coast between the islands of Qeshm and Hormuz. It was listed as sailing from the Saudi port of Jeddah, bound for the United Arab Emirates port of Jebel Ali.
A Message from Natan Sharansky, a Human rights Activist and Former Political Prisoner in the Soviet Union
Natan Sharansky writes: On a number of occasions during the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, the Israeli government has appealed to the United States and its allies to demand a change in Tehran’s aggressive behavior. If Iran wishes to be treated as a normal state, Israel has said, then it should start acting like one.
Unfortunately, these appeals have been summarily dismissed. The Obama administration apparently believes that only after a nuclear agreement is signed can the free world expect Iran to stop its attempts at regional domination, improve its human rights record and, in general, behave like the civilized state it hopes the world will recognize it to be.
As a former Soviet dissident, I cannot help but compare this approach to that of the United States during its decades-long negotiations with the Soviet Union, which at the time was a global superpower and a existential threat to the free world. The differences are striking and revealing
For starters, consider that the Soviet regime felt obliged to make its first ideological concession simply to enter into negotiations with the United States about economic cooperation. At the end of the 1950s, Moscow abandoned its doctrine of fomenting a worldwide communist revolution and adopted in its place a credo of peaceful coexistence between communism and capitalism. The Soviet leadership paid a high price for this concession, both internally — in the form of millions of citizens, like me, who had been obliged to study Marxism and Leninism as the truth and now found their partial abandonment confusing — and internationally, in their relations with the Chinese and other dogmatic communists who viewed the change as a betrayal. Nevertheless, the Soviet government understood that it had no other way to get what it needed from the United States.
Imagine what would have happened if instead, after completing a round of negotiations over disarmament, the Soviet Union had declared that its right to expand communism across the continent was not up for discussion. This would have spelled the end of the talks. Yet today, Iran feels no need to tone down its rhetoric calling for the death of America and wiping Israel off the map.
Of course, changes in rhetoric did not change the Soviet Union’s policy, which included sending missiles to Cuba, tanks to Prague and armies to Afghanistan. But each time, such aggression caused a serious crisis in relations between Moscow and Washington, influencing the atmosphere and results of negotiations between them. So, for example, when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan shortly after the SALT II agreement had been signed, the United States quickly abandoned the deal and accompanying discussions.
Today, by contrast, apparently no amount of belligerence on Iran’s part can convince the free world that Tehran has disqualified itself from the negotiations or the benefits being offered therein. Over the past month alone, as nuclear discussions continued apace, we watched Iran’s proxy terror group, Hezbollah, transform into a full-blown army on Israel’s northern border, and we saw Tehran continue to impose its rule on other countries, adding Yemen to the list of those under its control. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Dr. Charles Krauthammer: Obama Administration ‘Will Not Let the Facts Stand in the Way’ of a Deal with IranPosted: April 21, 2015
From The Corner,
On Tuesday’s Special Report, Charles Krauthammer said the Obama administration misled the American people about the estimated time the administration thought Iran would need to obtain nuclear weapons.
“This is an administration that is determined to get a deal and will not let the facts stand in the way.”
“The only explanation, the best explanation surely, is they were deliberately deceiving the American people—and the Congress, of course—because they [the Obama administration] knew they [Iran] were only few months a way and pretended otherwise,” Krauthammer said…(read more)
John Hudson writes: Putting geopolitics above a longtime campaign promise, President Barack Obama will refrain from using the word “genocide” to describe the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians during World War I. The decision came after a senior delegation of Turkish diplomats traveled to Washington to meet with White House officials and three days before the 100th anniversary of the mass killings.
“President Obama’s surrender to Turkey represents a national disgrace. It is, very simply, a betrayal of truth, a betrayal of trust.”
— Ken Hachikian, the chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America
U.S. officials speaking to Foreign Policy said the White House had contemplated recognizing the genocide and alerted State Department officials who deal with Turkey to prepare for the potential diplomatic blowback.
“The Armenian genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. As president I will recognize the Armenian genocide.”
— Senator Barack Obama
In the end, though, the White House decided against using the term. Administration officials relayed the decision to a group of Armenian-American leaders Tuesday afternoon, prompting an immediate backlash from those who have spent decades trying to get Washington to recognize what many historians describe as the first genocide of the 20th century.
“Is this the time to kick Turkey in the balls given everything that’s going on in the region?”
— Former congressional aide with years of experience working with Washington’s highly active Armenian lobby
“President Obama’s surrender to Turkey represents a national disgrace,” Ken Hachikian, the chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America, said in a statement. “It is, very simply, a betrayal of truth, a betrayal of trust.”
Many officials at the State Department opposed the decision for fear of losing Turkey’s cooperation on a host of key issues, most notably the war against the Islamic State militant group, which has seized control of large swaths of Syria and Iraq. Turkey hosts a training camp for anti-ISIS fighters and owns an air base the United States wants more access to.
“Is this the time to kick Turkey in the balls given everything that’s going on in the region?” said a former congressional aide with years of experience working with Washington’s highly active Armenian lobby.
To date, no sitting U.S. president has ever verbalized the word “genocide” when referring to the atrocities committed against Armenians in the early years of World War I. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan issued a written proclamation about the “genocide of the Armenians,” but subsequent diplomatic headaches prompted his administration to reverse course and drop all explicit references to that term. Read the rest of this entry »
Adam Kredo writes: The State Department on Monday would not rule out giving Iran up to $50 billion as a so-called “signing bonus” for agreeing to a nuclear deal later this year, according to comments made to journalists following reports that the Obama administration had formulated a plan to release tens of billions of frozen Iranian funds.
“This could be the largest cash infusion to a state sponsor of terrorism in modern history.”
— Jonathan Schanzer, a top terrorism-funding expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Experts have said this multi-billion dollar “signing bonus” option, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, could be the largest cash infusion to a terror-backing regime in recent memory.
“They’re getting access to money throughout this period as well. Throughout the extension they’re now getting some sanctions relief, which will continue through June 30.”
— State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf
A cash release of $30 to $50 billion upon reaching a final nuclear agreement would come in addition to the more than $11 billion in unfrozen assets that Iran will already have received under an interim nuclear accord reached in 2013.
When asked to address these reports on Monday, State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf attempted to dodge the issue and then accused reporters of getting “spun up” on the issue.
Asked whether Iran could receive $50 billion “on day one after signing” or verbally agreeing to a nuclear deal, Harf told reporters that she would “look into it.”
When pressed to provide an answer about the Journal’s initial report, Harf declined “to go line by line in the story.”
Harf said sanctions relief to Iran will continue through June 30.
“They’re getting access to money throughout this period as well,” she said. “Throughout the extension they’re now getting some sanctions relief, which will continue through June 30.”
Jonathan Schanzer, a top terrorism-funding expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), said such a cash release to Iran would enable the regime to continue backing various terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Read the rest of this entry »
DEVELOPING: U.S. Navy officials say the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is steaming toward the waters off Yemen and will join other American ships prepared to intercept any Iranian vessels carrying weapons to the Houthi rebels fighting in Yemen.
The U.S. Navy has been beefing up its presence in the Gulf of Aden and the southern Arabian Sea amid reports that a convoy of Iranian ships may be headed toward Yemen to arm the Houthis.
The Houthis are battling government-backed fighters in an effort to take control of the country.
There are about nine U.S. ships in the region, including cruisers and destroyers carrying teams that can board and search other vessels. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s On: ‘Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich’Posted: April 19, 2015
‘Clinton Cash’ Questions Foreign Donations to Foundation
Amy Chozick reports: The book does not hit shelves until May 5, but already the Republican Rand Paul has called its findings “big news” that will “shock people” and make voters “question” the candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich,” by Peter Schweizer — a 186-page investigation of donations made to the Clinton Foundation by foreign entities — is proving the most anticipated and feared book of a presidential cycle still in its infancy.
[Order Peter Schweizer’s book “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich” from Amazon.com]
The book, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, asserts that foreign entities who made payments to the Clinton Foundation and to Mr. Clinton through high speaking fees received favors from Mrs. Clinton’s State Department in return.
“There is a robust market for books critical of the Clintons. The thinly sourced ‘Blood Feud,’ by Mr. Klein, at one point overtook Mrs. Clinton’s memoir ‘Hard Choices’ on the best-seller list.”
“We will see a pattern of financial transactions involving the Clintons that occurred contemporaneous with favorable U.S. policy decisions benefiting those providing the funds,” Mr. Schweizer writes.
“But whether Mr. Schweizer’s book can deliver the same sales is not clear. He writes mainly in the voice of a neutral journalist and meticulously documents his sources, including tax records and government documents, while leaving little doubt about his view of the Clintons.”
His examples include a free-trade agreement in Colombia that benefited a major foundation donor’s natural resource investments in the South American nation, development projects in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake in 2010, and more than $1 million in payments to Mr. Clinton by a Canadian bank and major shareholder in the Keystone XL oil pipeline around the time the project was being debated in the State Department.
In the long lead up to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign announcement, aides proved adept in swatting down critical books as conservative propaganda, including Edward Klein’s “Blood Feud,” about tensions between the Clintons and the Obamas, and Daniel Halper’s “Clinton Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine.”
But “Clinton Cash” is potentially more unsettling, both because of its focused reporting and because major news organizations including The Times, The Washington Post and Fox News have exclusive agreements with the author to pursue the story lines found in the book. Read the rest of this entry »
Charles Krauthammer, Special Report, 4-16-2015
THE PANTSUIT REPORT: Watch Hillary Clinton Nod and Sip Water While Maintaining Eye Contact with an Everyday Iowa VoterPosted: April 15, 2015
Journeyman presidential candidate Hillary Clinton interacted with some everyday Iowa students in a garage on Tuesday, and taught all of us a lesson in the art of relatable politicking.
On several occasions during the roundtable event, Clinton revealed herself as a true “triple threat” by demonstrating an array of crucial skills that, when deployed correctly, can make even the most out-of-touch politicians appear somewhat human.
- Eye Contact — One of the easiest ways to make an everyday person feel that you really care about what they are saying, even if you are secretly counting the seconds until you can return to the plush leather “safe space” in your luxury van. This is particularly useful for a extremely wealthy person who is forced to interact with a commoner on the commoner’s home turf.
- Head Nod — A critical tool of everyday human interaction, especially when paired with meaningful eye contact. It makes the commoner feel as though you agree with them, and can empathize with their everyday concerns even if you can’t. Keep in mind that most people who have never met a sultan, much less shared a Gulfstream jet with one, usually don’t have anything interesting to say, and certainly won’t be able to write a six-figure check to your Super PAC. Alas, they are still allowed to vote.
- Hydration — The human body needs water, but simply taking a sip every now and then won’t increase your favorability rating. Everybody drinks; that’s boring. Some may argue that hydrating while engaged in nodding eye contact is just showing off. Read the rest of this entry »
Dr. Charles Krauthammer, on Special Report.
“She can’t run on change because she’s been in this administration, she has been around for 30 years, that would be a fraud. She represents the past. In the 90s, it was a good past. In the last six years, it was not that good a past that she’ll be representing.”
In which our resident scholar on all things Middle-East – and circus related, Andrew Klavan, explains Barack Obama’s policy for that troubled region. Think of it as Smart Diplomacy for Dummies…
“It is a mistake to suggest U.S. foreign policy is weak only because Barack Obama is running it. On the cusp of a presidential election, the more pertinent question is whether U.S. foreign policy is weak because a Democrat is running it.”
“You asked about an Obama doctrine,” Mr. Obama said. “The doctrine is: We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.”
“You asked about an Obama doctrine. The doctrine is: We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.”
— President Obama
In nine words, Mr. Obama explained what has been going on the past six years, culminating in what we now see is the nucleus of the Obama worldview, an accommodation with Iran.
“This statement, and indeed the Obama Doctrine, is a hoax. Set aside that ‘messes with Israel’ and ‘America will be there’ are phrases with no real operational meaning.”
The corollary of the Obama Doctrine, as the president explained, is that if engagement with a hostile power turns dangerous, everyone in the world knows that U.S. “military superiority” will emerge and prevail. In case of emergency, Uncle Sam will break glass.
“What we will be doing even as we enter into this deal is sending a very clear message to the Iranians and to the entire region that if anybody messes with Israel, America will be there.”
— President Obama, bluffing.
Mr. Obama then offered an example of how this would work—U.S. support for Israel: “What we will be doing even as we enter into this deal is sending a very clear message to the Iranians and to the entire region that if anybody messes with Israel, America will be there.”
“To understand the bluff, look closely at the Democrats’ Doctrine on paper or in practice, and you’ll notice that it’s always prospective. It promises to act at some point in the future if circumstances become so dire that they oblige the U.S. to ‘overwhelm’ the problem with superior power. Never has there been a bigger ‘if.’”
This statement, and indeed the Obama Doctrine, is a hoax.
Set aside that “messes with Israel” and “America will be there” are phrases with no real operational meaning.
“Mr. Obama’s ‘doctrine’ is essentially that if something bad happens, he will send in the 82nd Airborne Division. But he won’t. No Democrat whose view of large-scale U.S. military power was formed by the Vietnam War or the Iraq War will do that.”
“America will be there” could mean that if someone set off a nuclear backpack bomb in Tel Aviv, where the Obama administration would be the next day is on New York’s east side, condemning the attack in a U.N. Security Council resolution. Read the rest of this entry »
Mixing shrewd diplomacy with defiance of U.N. resolutions, Iran has turned the negotiation on its head
“In a large country with multiple facilities and ample experience in nuclear concealment, violations will be inherently difficult to detect. Devising theoretical models of inspection is one thing. Enforcing compliance, week after week, despite competing international crises and domestic distractions, is another.”
Debate regarding technical details of the deal has thus far inhibited the soul-searching necessary regarding its deeper implications. For 20 years, three presidents of both major parties proclaimed that an Iranian nuclear weapon was contrary to American and global interests—and that they were prepared to use force to prevent it. Yet negotiations that began 12 years ago as an international effort to prevent an Iranian capability to develop a nuclear arsenal are ending with an agreement that concedes this very capability, albeit short of its full capacity in the first 10 years.
Mixing shrewd diplomacy with open defiance of U.N. resolutions, Iran has gradually turned the negotiation on its head. Iran’s centrifuges have multiplied from about 100 at the beginning of the negotiation to almost 20,000 today. The threat of war now constrains the West more than Iran. While Iran treated the mere fact of its willingness to negotiate as a concession, the West has felt compelled to break every deadlock with a new proposal. In the process, the Iranian program has reached a point officially described as being within two to three months of building a nuclear weapon. Under the proposed agreement, for 10 years Iran will never be further than one year from a nuclear weapon and, after a decade, will be significantly closer.
Inspections and Enforcement
The president deserves respect for the commitment with which he has pursued the objective of reducing nuclear peril, as does Secretary of State John Kerry for the persistence, patience and ingenuity with which he has striven to impose significant constraints on Iran’s nuclear program.
[Also see – Clouds of Grey Fuzz Hang Over Iran Deal]
Progress has been made on shrinking the size of Iran’s enriched stockpile, confining the enrichment of uranium to one facility, and limiting aspects of the enrichment process. Still, the ultimate significance of the framework will depend on its verifiability and enforceability.
“Under the new approach, Iran permanently gives up none of its equipment, facilities or fissile product to achieve the proposed constraints…”
Negotiating the final agreement will be extremely challenging. For one thing, no official text has yet been published. The so-called framework represents a unilateral American interpretation. Some of its clauses have been dismissed by the principal Iranian negotiator as “spin.” A joint EU-Iran statement differs in important respects, especially with regard to the lifting of sanctions and permitted research and development.
“…It only places them under temporary restriction and safeguard—amounting in many cases to a seal at the door of a depot or periodic visits by inspectors to declared sites. The physical magnitude of the effort is daunting.”
Comparable ambiguities apply to the one-year window for a presumed Iranian breakout. Emerging at a relatively late stage in the negotiation, this concept replaced the previous baseline—that Iran might be permitted a technical capacity compatible with a plausible civilian nuclear program. The new approach complicates verification and makes it more political because of the vagueness of the criteria.
“Is the International Atomic Energy Agency technically, and in terms of human resources, up to so complex and vast an assignment?”
Under the new approach, Iran permanently gives up none of its equipment, facilities or fissile product to achieve the proposed constraints. Read the rest of this entry »