Foreign Policy

Opinion/Analysis: Obama should apologize for shameful cash payment to Iran

Since the elimination of Iranian terrorist leader Qassem Soleimani, much of the world has rightfully held its collective breath in fearful anticipation of what might be to come. Iran is indeed a dangerous terrorist state that not only has a powerful standing army, air force, navy and advanced weapons systems — including ballistic missiles and a growing space program — but also controls multiple proxy terrorist organizations responsible for killing and injuring hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children. Included on that list of victims are thousands of American military personnel and contractors. These were facts that former President Obama knew when he deliberately chose a policy of appeasement and cash payoffs instead of strength and accountability as the way to deal with Iran. President Trump spelled this out in no uncertain terms on Wednesday when he addressed the nation while seeking to dial down the imminent threat Iran may pose to our nation, the Middle East and the world. Said the president in part, “Iran’s hostilities substantially increased after the foolish Iran nuclear deal was signed in 2013 and they were given $150 billion, not to mention $1.8 billion in cash. … Then, Iran went on a terror spree, funded by the money from the deal and created hell in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq. The missiles fired last night at us and our allies were paid for with the funds made available by the last administration.” As we have seen and heard, some — especially Democrats, their allies in the media and Obama supporters — chose to challenge or quibble with Trump’s statement. That said, I spoke with a former senior intelligence official who said that much of the $1.8 billion cash payoff from the Obama administration was used explicitly to fund terrorism as an additional “screw you” from the leaders of Iran — including Soleimani — to the United States. The rest of the money, my source believes, ended up in the bank accounts of corrupt Iranian leaders and terrorists. The cash payment authorized by Obama is one of the most disgraceful and shameful “negotiations” in the history of our nation. It was a payment the Obama White House first denied, then ignored and then grudgingly acknowledged. We paid in cash, but not U.S. currency. Wary of using U.S. bills for a variety of reasons involving concealment, the Obama White House had the money converted to untraceable Euros, Swiss francs, and other foreign currencies. More troubling than those initial denials and deceptions was the fact that $400 million of that all-cash payment was used to pay a ransom to the government of Iran for the release of four American prisoners, in violation of standing U.S. policy. In a pathetic attempt to hide behind semantics, the Obama administration finally did acknowledge that $400 million was delayed as “leverage” until the Americans were allowed to leave Iran. While the Obama White House hid from the true definition of the word “leverage,” Iran’s state-run media was more than happy to brag that Iran had just forced the United States to pay a ransom. Former Congressman Ed Royce (R-Calif.), who chaired the House Foreign Affairs Committee at that time, condemned the deal: “Sending the world’s leading state sponsor of terror pallets of untraceable cash isn’t just terrible policy. It’s incredibly reckless, and it only puts bigger targets on the backs of Americans.” Former Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) seconded Royce’s warning: “Paying ransom to kidnappers puts Americans even more at risk. … The White House’s policy of appeasement has led Iran to illegally seize more American hostages.” Said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), “President Obama’s disastrous nuclear deal with Iran was sweetened with an illicit ransom payment and billions of dollars for the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism.” What many Americans don’t realize is that the Obama White House took the ransom money from something called the “Judgment Fund,” which is administered by the Treasury. That little-known account is entirely paid for by American taxpayers and was set up in such a way that Obama could bypass congressional approval to pay the cash to Iran. Those who continually praise and defend Obama often describe him as “brilliant.” There is no doubt the former president is an intelligent person, certainly bright enough to realize — and admit, at least to himself — that the cash he turned over to the murderous regime leading Iran to ruin was not used for altruistic purposes. Any honest assessment would conclude that at least part of that secretive, massive payment was used to finance terrorist attacks against Americans, our allies and innocent civilians. Trump is correct on that point. For that reason, Obama should apologize for the thousands wounded and killed in terrorist attacks since Iran took possession of that tainted cash. That is his debt to pay.

Exactly!!!  Thanks to Douglas MacKinnon for that absolutely spot-on analysis.  Douglas is a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration.  Keep everything you said in mind as you read the next article about John Kerry.  Excellent!!     🙂

Kerry deflects question about why he released money to Iran, accused Trump of ‘lies’

Former Secretary of State John Kerry faced a question about his role in releasing billions of dollars to Iran during the Obama administration and responded by first attacking President Trump’s criticism of the move. President Trump has claimed that Iran’s recent aggression against the U.S. in Iraq was funded by $150 billion that the Obama administration gave to Iran. Kerry has insisted that was false, although in the past he recognized that at least some of the money – which was frozen due to sanctions and held in banks around the world before being released at roughly the same time the Iran nuclear deal was made – would end up in the hands of terrorists. “I think that some of it will end up in the hands of the IRGC or other entities, some of which are labeled terrorists,” Kerry told CNBC in 2016. When asked by Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” why he believed this was a worthwhile risk when releasing the money, Kerry attacked the president rather than answer the question. “You know that the president’s tweet is a lie,” Kerry told host Margaret Brennan. “And the president tweeted this morning, because I am coming on the show and he knew you’d ask me the question or he’d push you in a place where you did ask the question. You and the media, I think, need to call a lie a lie.” Brennan immediately reminded him that she asked the same question in 2015. Kerry continued, saying that what he meant was that “clearly some money from the budget of Iran is going to go to the IRGC.” He then said that, contrary to what President Trump claims ”his own defense intelligence agency in 2017 testified to the Congress that very, very little money actually went to the IRGC at all.” Kerry did not explain his rationale for releasing the money at the time, before he knew where the funds would end up.

And to think this duplicitous, self-serving tool almost became President…    He and Obama orchestrated that more than $1 BILLION ransom deal with Iran during Obama’s administration.. And when confronted by a mainstream media journalist, Kerry pivots and somehow blames Trump, who wasn’t President at the time; Obama was.

Analysis: Iranian Analytics

For all the current furor over the death of Qasem Soleimani, it is Iran, not the U.S. and the Trump administration, that is in a dilemma. Given the death and destruction wrought by Soleimani, and his agendas to come, he will not be missed. Tehran has misjudged the U.S. administration’s doctrine of strategic realism rather than vice versa. The theocracy apparently calculated that prior U.S. patience and restraint in the face of its aggression was proof of an unwillingness or inability to respond. More likely, the administration was earlier prepping for a possible more dramatic, deadly, and politically justifiable response when and if Iran soon overreached. To retain domestic and foreign credibility, Iran would now like to escalate in hopes of creating some sort of U.S. quagmire comparable to Afghanistan, or, more germanely, to a long Serbian-like bombing campaign mess, or the ennui that eventually overtook the endless no-fly zones over Iraq, or the creepy misadventure in Libya, or even something like an enervating 1979-80 hostage situation. The history of the strategies of our Middle East opponents has always been to lure us into situations that have no strategic endgame, do not play to U.S. strengths in firepower, are costly without a time limit, and create Vietnam War–like tensions at home. But those wished-for landscapes are not what Iranian has got itself into. Trump, after showing patience and restraint to prior Iranian escalations, can respond to Iranian tit-for-tat without getting near Iran, without commitments to any formal campaign, and without seeming to be a provocateur itching for war, but in theory doing a lot more damage to an already damaged Iranian economy either through drones, missiles, and bombing, or even more sanctions and boycotts to come. If Iran turns to terrorism and cyber-attacks, it would likely only lose more political support and risk airborne responses to its infrastructure at home. Iran deeply erred in thinking that Trump’s restraint was permanent, that his impeachment meant he had lost political viability, that he would go dormant in an election year, that the stature of his left-wing opponents would surge in such tensions, and that his base would abandon him if he dared to use military force. There are several Iranian choices, but they are apparently deemed unattractive by the regime. In a logical world, Iran could agree to revisit non-proliferation talks. But that for now would be too humiliating for the regime, a huge letdown after its prior bonanza of the Iran Deal. Any future negotiations would require snap inspections over the entire country, 100 percent transparency, and provisions about missiles and terrorism that would not lead to a deliverable Iranian bomb and therefore would seem an intolerable regression after the American giveaway of 2015. Iran might go quiet for a while, and then revert to its past less dramatic provocations. But the clock was already ticking from the sanctions. Tehran at least felt that the status quo was synonymous with its eventual disintegration and so in desperation hoped to trigger something or other that could lead to Trump’s political emasculation and a political reprieve. We are now in an election year. Iran yearns for a return of the U.S. foreign policy of John Kerry, Ben Rhodes, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power, the naïveté that had proved so lucrative and advantageous to Iran prior to 2017. Yet it is hard to see how Trump, if he is careful and selective in his responses to future Iranian escalations, will be damaged politically.

Thanks to historian Dr. Victor Davis Hanson for that spot-on analysis.  For more, click on the text above.  Excellent!!     😉

 

Opinion/Analysis: America should hit Iran where it hurts after 40 years of undeclared war

Most Americans don’t realize it, but we’ve been at war for the last 40 years with the Islamic state of Iran. This is not a war we declared. And often, it’s been a war that our political and intelligence elites have denied exists. That’s because, just like the war we’ve been fighting since the 9/11 attacks, it’s a war that others declared on us rather than a war of our choosing. It began on November 4, 1979, when “radicals” loyal to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held our diplomats hostage for 444 days. Once the hostages were released, on the very minute President Reagan was sworn into office, most Americans – including our politicians – thought the war was over. We did nothing. On April 18, 1983, a suicide bomber drove a truck full of explosives into the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 63 people, including 17 Americans. (I reported from the scene of that bombing for USA Today at the time). The U.S. government never determined who was behind the attack, although we now know it was Iran. We did nothing. On Oct. 23, 1983, twin truck bombs killed 241 U.S. Marines and 58 French peacekeepers in Beirut. Once again, Iran ordered and carried out the attacks. We did nothing. Over the years, the Iranian regime, through its top terror-master, Imad Fayez Mugniyeh, kidnapped Americans, hijacked U.S. aircraft, and blew up more U.S. embassies while we did nothing. In 1998 Mugniyeh and his Iranian paymasters teamed up with Usama bin Laden, attacking U.S. embassies in Africa, driving a boat laden with explosives into the U.S.S. Cole, and yes, attacking America on Sept. 11, 2001. Victims of the 9/11 attacks have won more than $18 billion in damages against the Islamic state of Iran in U.S. courts, based on evidence that Iran “materially and directly supported al Qaeda” in preparing and executing those attacks. Iran has also targeted U.S. soldiers on the battlefield, killing more than 1,000 U.S. troops with specialized improvised explosive devices in Iraq, placing a bounty on U.S. service personnel in Afghanistan, and most recently targeting U.S. forces in Syria. The carnage just goes on and on. President Trump has said repeatedly that Americans are tired of endless wars. I agree. So here’s a strategy for winning this war and ending it once and for all. First, we need to increase military pressure on Iran by cutting off its “land bridge” through Syria to Israel’s northern border. This can be done by continuing to support the U.S. base at al Tanf in southeastern Syria, whether it is operated by Kurdish or Arab allies or members of the U.S. military. Next, we need to loosen Iran’s stranglehold over Iraq, by convincing the Iraqi government to disband the Iranian-backed Shiite militias that funnel arms and material through Iraqi territory into Syria, and by weeding out Iranian agents in the Iraqi government. Third, we need to provide material, political and diplomatic support to the pro-freedom movement inside Iran, striking the regime at the core of its weakness – its democracy deficiency. And fourth, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo needs to encourage U.S. friends and allies at the international meeting on the Middle East in Poland to enact new multilateral economic sanctions against Iran. These should include measures to freeze Iranian government assets so that the victims of Iranian terrorism with U.S. judgments can file claim to them overseas. Justice for victims of terrorism must be part of the U.S. strategy to defeat the Islamic dictatorship in Iran. After all, keeping safe those fat overseas bank accounts is something the corrupt mullahs in Iran treasure. Let’s hit them where it hurts.

We agree!!  Thanks to Kenneth R. Timmerman for that outstanding op/ed.  That was spot on!  Having personally spent some time in Afghanistan as a U.S. Army Military Intelligence “field grade” officer, I know that we have been fighting a proxy war with Iran for many years.   Kenneth R. Timmerman, best-selling author, lectured on Iran at the Joint Counter-Intelligence Training Academy from 2010-2016. He was jointly nominated for the Nobel Peace prize with Ambassador John Bolton in 2006 for his work on Iran. His latest book is “ISIS Begins: a Novel of the Iraq War.”

Pompeo, at site of Obama’s address to Muslim world, rebukes his legacy: ‘Age of self-inflicted American shame is over’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday launched an astonishing rebuke of former President Barack Obama’s foreign policy at the site of Obama’s famous speech to the Muslim world — declaring that “the age of self-inflicted American shame is over.” Pompeo delivered his remarks in Cairo, where Obama famously spoke in 2009 and promised a new beginning with Muslim and Arab countries. He was criticized by conservatives for placing too much blame on the U.S. for strife in the region. Pompeo, while not mentioning Obama by name, said that “it was here, in this city, another American stood before you” and “told you that radical Islamist terrorism does not stem from ideology.” “He told you that 9/11 led my country to abandon its ideals, particularly in the Middle East,” he said at the American University in Cairo. “He told you that the United States and the Muslim world needed ‘a new beginning.’ The results of these misjudgments have been dire.” Pompeo said that under Obama, the U.S. abandoned its allies and was “timid” about asserting itself, that the U.S. “grossly underestimated the tenacity and viciousness of radical Islamism,” and kept silent as Iranians tried to rise up against the regime in Tehran. He also criticized Obama-era policy for “wishful thinking [that] led us to look the other way” as Hezbollah built up its weaponry in Lebanon, and for doing nothing as Syrian President Bashar Assad gassed his own people. He then took another swipe at the 2015 Iran nuclear deal — from which the U.S. withdrew last year. The U.S. has since re-imposed economic sanctions on the country, including on oil exports. “Our eagerness to address only Muslims, not nations, ignored the rich diversity of the Middle East, and frayed old bonds. It undermined the concept of the nation-state, the building block of international stability,” he said. “And our desire for peace at any cost led us to strike a deal with Iran, our common enemy.” But he promised his audience that the Trump administration was ushering in a new era of U.S. foreign policy. “The good news is this: The age of self-inflicted American shame is over, and so are the policies that produced so much needless suffering. Now comes the real ‘new beginning,’” he said. His speech emphasized America as a force for good in the region. He cited accomplishments under Trump’s leadership — including the pushback of Islamic State, the withdrawal of more troops and personnel from Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and building a coalition to push back against Iranian influence. “We have rediscovered our voice. We have rebuilt our relationships. We have rejected false overtures from enemies. And look at what we have accomplished together,” he said. Pompeo’s speech comes as part of a tour of the region, including Jordan and other Gulf nations, as he seeks to coordinate an anti-Iran strategy. It comes after a sudden decision from President Trump last month to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, leading to concern from some allies in the region about U.S. commitments. On Thursday, Pompeo appeared to attempt to assuage those fears by pledging U.S. commitment. “Our aim is to partner with our friends and vigorously oppose our enemies, because a strong, secure, and economically viable Middle East is in our national interest – and yours,” he said. “Let me be clear: America will not retreat until the terror fight is over.”

Trump Picks Retired General John Abizaid for Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

A retired four-star general is President Donald Trump’s pick to be US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, filling a key diplomatic vacancy at a time when US-Saudi relations are being tested by the slaying of a journalist critical of the Saudi royal family. Trump announced Tuesday that he is nominating John Abizaid, the longest-serving commander of the US Central Command, to lead the US Embassy in Riyadh. It’s a post that has been empty since former ambassador Joseph Westphal left in January 2017. If confirmed by the Senate, Abizaid would become ambassador as the Trump administration is weighing the U.S. response to the killing of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials claim Khashoggi was killed by a 15-member assassination squad sent from Riyadh on orders from the highest levels of the Saudi government. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has revoked the visas of the Saudis implicated in the killing. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said additional measures will be taken. Abizaid, who retired in 2007, served in wars in Grenada, the Persian Gulf, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. Following the war in Iraq, Abizaid assumed control of CENTCOM, which overseas military operations in 20 nations stretching from northeast Africa to the Middle East to Central and South Asia. Abizaid, of Nevada, currently works as a private consultant and is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Previously, he was the distinguished chair of the Combating Terrorism Center at the US Military Academy at West Point. He also served in various senior positions on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

GEN Abizaid (Ret) is an outstanding choice for Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.  Left out of this rather lazy AP story is the fact that GEN Abizaid also happens to be of Lebanese decent (his grandparents immigrated to America), which gives him an Arab connection, which the Saudis will probably appreciate.  And, the man speaks Arabic.  So, as he deals with the Kingdom, that will also come in handy…not the mention the fact that he is a retired Army 4-star General who commanded CENTCOM.  The Saudis respect status, and GEN Abizaid has plenty of that.   GEN Abizaid is a grad of West Point, and got his Masters from Harvard where he wrote a paper on Saudi Arabia that won him accolades.  Little did he know then that’d be considered for this role.  Again, an excellent choice to be the next Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.  We hope he is confirmed quickly.     🙂

Trump turns tables, scores wins over Russia

President Trump’s often-criticized effort to forge better relations with Russia has morphed into a confrontational stance that this week scored economic and national security wins. German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that her government is backing construction of a shipping depot for importing liquefied natural gas from the U.S., bowing to Mr. Trump’s demand that she loosen Russia’s grip on the country’s energy supply. Mr. Trump then went directly after Moscow. He announced that the U.S. was pulling out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty that for the past 31 years limited the development and deployment of missile or launch systems that can threaten Russia’s European neighbors. The president accused Russia of violating the missile system ban for years and, to the Kremlin’s dismay, vowed to force an expensive new arms race. Russian President Vladimir Putin was riled. At a meeting Tuesday in Moscow with National Security Adviser John R. Bolton, Mr. Putin described the developments as “unprovoked moves that are hard to call friendly.” He said a face-to-face meeting with Mr. Trump was in order. Later, Mr. Trump said he is willing to sit down with Mr. Putin when the two men are in Paris next month for events marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. “It hasn’t been set up yet, but we probably will” meet, Mr. Trump said at the White House. When he last faced off with Mr. Putin at a July summit in Helsinki, Mr. Trump was roundly criticized for being too soft and timidly accepting the Russian’s denial that his country meddled in the 2016 presidential election. In Paris, Mr. Putin might be looking to reset the relationship. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Edward R. Royce told The Washington Times that he welcomed the advances against Russia, saying the LNG terminal would help make Germany “less vulnerable to Russian manipulation.” The California Republican backed up Mr. Trump on quitting the nuclear missile treaty. “The Russians have been violating INF for years, making this deal unsustainable. We need durable arms control agreements,” he said. Russia’s violations of the missile system ban go back 10 years, with allegations of cheating leveled by the Obama administration and European leaders.

More winning!!  For more, click on the text above.     🙂