Thursday, August 31, 2017

President Trump's Tax Reform Vision Is Reagan 101, and It Works

Sorry, Dear Readers -- I have to post early today. THE REAL NEWS TODAY IS ABOUT PRESIDENT TRUMP AND TAXES. President Trump delivered his overview of what is needed in tax reform in his speech in Springfield, Missouri, on Wednesday. The President chose Springfield because it is on Route 66, which President Trump said "captured the American spirit. The communities along this historic route were a vivid symbol of America’s booming industry. Truck drivers hauled made-in-America goods along this vital artery of commerce. Families passed through bustling towns on their way to explore the great American West. And high-quality manufacturing jobs lifted up communities, gave Americans a paycheck that could support a family....And provided millions of our fellow citizens with the pride and dignity that comes with work." Here are the highlights from the text of the speech. • • • TEXT OF TRUMP'S TAX REFORM SPEECH. "We're here today to launch our plans to bring back Main Street by reducing the crushing tax burden on our companies and on our workers. Our self-destructive tax code costs Americans millions and millions of jobs, trillions of dollars, and billions of hours spent on compliance and paperwork. And you have seen what's happening with regulations -- they're going fast. We need regulations, but many of them are unnecessary, and they're going fast. That is why the foundation of our job creation agenda is to fundamentally reform our tax code for the first time in more than 30 years. I want to work with Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, on a plan that is pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-worker -- and pro-American....If we want to renew our prosperity, and to restore opportunity, then we must reduce the tax burden on our companies and on our workers....Here are my four principles for tax reform: First, we need a tax code that is simple, fair, and easy to understand. That means getting rid of the loopholes and complexity that primarily benefit the wealthiest Americans and special interests. Our last major tax rewrite was 31 years ago. It eliminated dozens of loopholes and special interest tax breaks, reduced the number of tax brackets from fifteen to two, and lowered tax rates for both individuals and businesses. At the time, it was really something special. Since then, our tax laws have tripled in size, and the tax code itself now spans more than 2,600 pages, and most of it is not understandable. Tax rates have increased, and special interest loopholes have crept back into the system. The tax code is now a massive source of complexity and frustration for tens of millions of complicated that more than 90% of Americans need professional help to do their own taxes....this is wrong....Second, we need a competitive tax code that creates more jobs and higher wages for Americans. It’s time to give American workers the pay raise that they've been looking for for many, many years. In 1986, Ronald Reagan led the world by cutting our corporate tax rate to 34%. That was below the average rate for developed countries at the time. Everybody thought that was a monumental thing that happened. But then, under this pro- America system, our economy boomed....The middle class thrived and median family income increased. Other countries saw the success....And they acted very swiftly by cutting their taxes lower, and lower, and lower, and reforming their tax systems to be far more competitive than ours. Over the past 30 years, the average business tax rate among developed nations fell from 45% to less than 24%....So we must -- we have no choice -- we must lower our taxes....Today, we are still taxing our businesses at 35%, and it’s way more than that. And think of it: In some cases, way above 40% when you include state and local taxes, in various states. The United States is now behind France, behind Germany, behind Canada, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, and many other nations. Also, with these countries and almost every country, we have massive trade deficits....We have gone from a tax rate that is lower than our economic competitors, to one that is more than 60% higher. We have totally surrendered our competitive edge to other countries....Ideally -- and I say this for our Secretary of the Treasury -- we would like to bring our business tax rate down to 15%, which would make our tax rate lower than most countries, but still, by no means the lowest, unfortunately, in the world. But it would make us highly competitive....Because when businesses compete for labor, your wages will go up. Lower taxes on American business means higher wages for American workers, and it means more products made right here in the USA....The third principle for tax reform is a crucial one: tax relief for middle-class families. In a way -- and I’ve been saying this for a long time -- they've been sort of the forgotten people, but they're not forgotten any longer....We will lower taxes for middle-income Americans so they can keep more of their hard-earned paychecks, and they can do lots of things with those paychecks. And that really means buying product ideally made in this country....[and] includes helping parents afford childcare and the cost of raising a family....We believe that ordinary Americans know better than Washington how to spend their own money, and we want to help them take home as much of their money as possible and then spend it....Fourth and finally, we want to bring back trillions of dollars in wealth that's parked overseas. Because of our high tax rate and horrible, outdated, bureaucratic rules, large companies that do business overseas will often park their profits offshore to avoid paying a high United States tax if the money is brought back home. So they leave the money over there. The amount of money we're talking about is anywhere from $3 trillion to $5 trillion....By making it less punitive for companies to bring back this money, and by making the process far less bureaucratic and difficult, we can return trillions and trillions of dollars to our economy and spur billions of dollars in new investments in our struggling communities and throughout our nation. It’s time to invest in our country, to rebuild our communities, and to hire our great American workers....My administration is embracing a new economic model. It’s called very simply: The American Model. Under this system, we will encourage companies to hire and grow in America, to raise wages for American workers, and to help rebuild our American cities and communities. That is how we will all succeed and grow together, as one team, with one shared sense of purpose, and one glorious American destiny....So let’s put -- or at least try to put -- the partisan posturing behind us and come together as Americans to create the 21st century tax code that our people deserve. If we do this, if we unite in the name of common sense and the name of common good, then we will add millions and millions of new jobs, bring back trillions of dollars, and we will give America the competitive advantage that it so desperately needs and has been looking for for so long. It’s time. Products made with American hands, American labor, and American grit will once again be delivered throughout the world. It’s time. Instead of exporting our jobs, we will export our goods. (Applause.) Our jobs will both stay here in America and come back to America. We’ll have it both ways. Millions of struggling citizens will be lifted from welfare to work. They will love getting up in the morning. They will love going to their job. They will love earning a big, fat, beautiful paycheck. They will be proud again. That is the future I want for our people. That is the future I want for America -- a nation where we are proud, prosperous, united, and free." • • • TRUMP'S VISION. First, as he said on Wednesday, the Trump "American Model" is a lot like President Reagan's tax reform program. And, President Trump used his closing remarks to go straight to the core issue surrounding tax reform and every other reform he is proposing -- bi-partisan cooperation. The President said : "Today, I am asking every citizen to join me in dreaming big and bold and daring things -- beautiful things -- for our country. I am asking every member of Congress, of which we have many with us today, to join me in unleashing America’s full potential. I am asking everyone in this room and across the nation to join me in demanding nothing but the best for our nation and for our people. And if we do these things, and if we care for and support each other, and love each other, then we will truly make America great again. Thank you. God bless you." • If we look back to September 16, 2106, candidate Trump gave an exceptional speech about the state and potential of the Americna economy. It was a stirring, largely Reaganesque vision of America’s economic future -- Trump said he would cut taxes ($4.4 trillion of them) and simplify the tax code (from seven to just three brackets). He would also lower the onerous corporate tax rate to 15%, making the United States more competitive globally, and cut job-killing regulations that squeeze corporate profits and cost jobs. It was a stark contrast to the policies of the past eight years of the Obama visionof the "new normal," which candidate Hillary Clinton vowed to repeat and build upon. Trump blew Clinton -- and Obama -- away : "“My opponent’s plan offers only more taxing, regulating, more spending and more wealth redistribution -- a future of slow growth, declining incomes and dwindling prosperity. If we lower our taxes, remove destructive regulations, unleash the vast treasure of American energy and negotiate trade deals that put America first, then there is no limit to the number of jobs we can create and the amount of prosperity we can unleash. Instead of driving jobs and wealth away, America will become the world’s great magnet for innovation and job creation.” He trounced on left-wing economists, like Bill Clinton’s former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who have tried to rationalize the current Obama slow-growth economy Clinton wanted Americans to accept as the “new normal,” a stagnation produced by left-wing economic dogma that is desperately wrong. Candidate Trump said : “My economic plan rejects the cynicism that says our labor force will keep declining, that our jobs will keep leaving and that our economy can never grow as it did once before. We reject the pessimism that says our standard of living can no longer rise, and that all that’s left to do is divide up and redistribute our shrinking resources. Everything that is broken today can be fixed, and every failure can be turned into a great success.” • • • DEAR READERS, Candidate Trump and President Trump are right, and Trump's economic success is the proof. In Springfield on Wednesday, the President said : "In the last 10 years, our economy has grown at only around 2% a year. If you look at other countries and you look at what their GDP is, they're unhappy when it's seven, eight, nine. And I speak to them -- leaders of the countries -- how are you doing? "Not well, not well." Why? "GDP is down to 7%." And I'm saying, we were hitting 1% just a number of months ago. So we're going to change that around, folks, that I can tell you. And we're going change it around fast." And Trump is doing just that, as he told the Springfield audience : "And today -- a very appropriate day that this should happen -- we just announced that we hit 3% in GDP. It just came out. And on a yearly basis, as you know, the last administration, during an eight-year period, never hit 3%. So we're really on our way. If we achieve sustained 3% growth, that means 12 million new jobs and $10 trillion dollars of new economic activity over the next decade. That's some numbers. And I happen to be one that thinks we can go much higher than 3%. There's no reason why we shouldn’t." • And, the Commerce Department reported on Thursday that consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity, increased 0.3% last month after an upwardly revised 0.2% rise in June. The Commerce Department report suggested the economy got off to a strong start in the third quarter after gross domestic product increased at a 3.0% annualized rate in the April-June period, the fastest in more than two years -- actually, the Obama presidency never hit a 3.0% annualized GDP increase. And, consumer spending rose, supported by a rebound in incomes. Personal income increased 0.4% last month after being unchanged in June. Wages and salaries advanced 0.5%. • President Trump usged Congress to get on his economic bandwagon. He attacked Democrats : "The Dems are looking to obstruct tax cuts and tax reform, just like they obstructed so many other things, including administration appointments and healthcare. Not one vote. We got not one vote to try and fix healthcare and get rid of Obamacare." And, then he went after Missouri Democrat Senator Claire McCaskill, already on the ropes because of her votes in the Senate to continue the Obamacare disaster. Trump said McCaskill must support tax reform, adding :"And if she doesn't do it for you, you have to have to vote her out of office. She's got to make that commitment. She's got to make that commitment." Trump went after "the obstruction and the obstructionists," : "If we don't get tax cuts and reform approved, potentially, the biggest ever -- we are looking for the biggest ever -- jobs and our country cannot take off the way they should, and it could be much worse than that. But, at a minimum, they won't take off the way they should. • Why can President Trump be so sure of his position? For two reasons. First, he has already done much to kickstart the economy through executive orders on reducing regulations, supporting energy independence, and streamlining federal executive departments to be more efficient with fewer personnel and lower costs. Congress cannot interfere with these changes. Second, Trump knows that he has millions of Americans on his side. They are complaining loudly about the "do-nothing" Congress, both Democrats and the Republican leaders who had promised big changes but are producing little. Trump keeps the presssure on these Republicans -- many are the #NeverTrump RINOs who are deep in the Swamp and do not want change. They promise but do not intend to follow through. American voters -- both Democrats nad Republicans -- are tired of their lies and are flocking to Trump. So, it is clear that if the GOP leadership in Congress fails to provide tax reform, and perhaps a re-look at Obamacare, the President has the troops in almost every state who will turn the Progressive Democrats and GOP leaders with their #NeverTrump RINO attitude out of office for Tea Party and other Republicans, conservatives and independents who share Trump's vision of a robust America whose economy provides business growth, jobs and rising incomes. • It isn't rocket science. It is just plain old "America 101," or as President Trump is now calling it, "The American Model." All we can say is a resounding YES.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

North Korea, Containment, Missile Defense Strategies, and Anti-Semitism at the UNHRC and the Palestinian Authority

THE REAL NEWS TODAY IS AN UPDATE ON WORLD EVENTS. • • • HARVEY MOVES INTO LOUSIANA. On Tuesday, President Trump arrived in Texas to see the damage caused by Harvey, now a tropical storm, and demonstrate his commitment to a region in the grips of a historic natural disaster. At least 30 people have been killed, and parts of the Houston area broke the record for rainfall from a single storm anywhere in the continental US. The tropical storm made a second landfall near Port Arthur early on Wednesday. Port Arthur was in practical terms isolated Wednesday as Harvey's rains flooded most major roads out of the city and swamped a shelter for victims fleeing the storm that ravaged the Houston area. The crisis deepened in the coastal city after Harvey rolled ashore overnight for the second time in six days, this time hitting southwestern Louisiana on the 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katerina. Port Arthur’s mayor, Derrick Freeman, urged residents to get to higher ground and to avoid becoming trapped in attics, psoting on Facebook : "The city is underwater right now but we are coming!” In Louisiana, forecasters warned of potential tornadoes forming in northeast part of the state and across southern and central portions of Mississippi. Louisiana Governor John Edwards told “Fox & Friends” Wednesday morning the “worst case scenario has not happened” and officials were hopeful they would get through the next 24 hours without much damage. The Governor said : “We need to get this storm moving, get it overland and let it dissipate. Thus far, things are not going as we had feared.” Before it breaks up, Harvey could creep as far east as Mississippi by Thursday, meaning New Orleans, where Hurricane Katrina unleashed its full wrath in 2005, is in Harvey's path. • Meanwhile, the US military is mobilizing resources to help Texas authorities cope with devastating and life-threatening flooding brought on by Harvey. The entire Texas National Guard has been mobilized but more help will be needed as floods ravage Houston, officials said. Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Sunday signed an agreement with the Defense Department approving a “dual status” command that authorizes one commander to control both active duty and National Guard forces, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Robert Manning told reporters Monday. The military’s Randolph-Seguin auxiliary airfield at Joint Base San Antonio has been designated as a forward staging area for the distribution of supplies and equipment. The Pentagon sent to Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth a search-and-rescue unit with nine rotary-wing aircraft, two fixed-wing aircraft, para-rescue teams and planners. The Defense Logistics Agency has provided 11 generators, 50,000 gallons of gasoline and 50,000 gallons of diesel fuel. Colonel Manning said an unspecified number of active-duty military units are en route to the staging area “in anticipation of a possible request.” There has been no immediate tasking for active-duty forces as of now. The Texas National Guard has mobilized about 2,400 personnel and is prepared to mobilize up to 5,000 more in support of civil authorities. The Texas guard has 16 aircraft conducting day and night wide-area search-and-rescue missions along the Texas coast from Corpus Christi to Houston, including 10 UH-60 Black Hawk, four UH-72 Lakota and two CH-47 Chinook helicopters. The New York Air National Guard has provided one C-130 cargo plane, three HH-60 search-and-rescue helicopters and two C-17 heavy transport planes. Six additional helicopters are on their way to Texas from Utah, Nebraska and North Carolina Army National Guard. Seven fixed-wing aircraft are being dispatched from the US Coast Guard and the US Air National Guard. The Army is providing 200 Humvee trucks, 218 high-water vehicles, 15 wreckers and 19 fuel-container vehicles. US Northern Command, based in Colorado Springs, is responsible for the military’s support to FEMA, state and local response efforts. The military considers response to natural disasters as one of its “core capabilities” but conducts these operations in support of civilian agencies. The US military has sharpened its disaster-relief skills mostly in overseas operations. US forces assisted the Japanese government in the aftermath of an earthquake and tsunami in 2011. In 2013 it helped with Typhoon Haiyan relief in the Philippines. US forces were deployed to Nepal in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake there. Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, US Coast Guard helicopters crews plucked people off the rooftops of flooded homes in New Orleans, in rescues of more than 24,000 residents from flooded areas, and evacuations of 9,400. • Fox News reporteed Wednesday that officials are warning that Texas floodwaters could persist until October. Authorities expect the death toll to rise as the waters recede and they are able to take full stock of the death and destruction from the catastrophic storm. Earlier on Wednesday, acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke said federal government agencies would help those affected for as long as needed : "We expect a many-year recovery in Texas and the federal government is in this for the long haul. We will help the people of Texas for as long as they need." • Duke said while officials were monitoring the situation in Louisiana, the focus remained on the greater Houston area, which saw more than 50 inches of rain after Harvey made landfall Saturday. With at least 13,000 rescued in the Houston area and surrounding cities and counties, more people were still trying to escape from their inundated homes. FEMA administrator Brock Long said more than 230 shelters are operating in Texas, housing more than 30,000 people : "We're also calling on other states through emergency management assistance compacts. We're still in lifesaving, life sustaining mode. Shelters are obviously not ideal and unfortunately people are going to be there for quite some time." • The good news is that flood waters are beginning to recede, and as Harvey moves east, the weather forecast will improve. But, some neighborhood are still in danger as a levee along Cypress Creek in the northern part of the country could fail and swamp a subdivision where some residents ignored a mandatory evacuation order. The water in two reservoirs that protect downtown Houston from flooding was likely to crest Wednesday at levels slightly below those that were forecast, officials said. • There are many ways to help the victims of Harvey -- just google 'help Harvey victime' if you want to contribute to the relief effort. • • • NORTH KOREA IS AS BELLICOSE AS EVER. While the UN Security Council was busy on Tuesday unanimously adopting a statement condemning what it called North Korea’s “outrageous actions” in launching a ballistic missile over Japan on Tuesday and launching three missiles on Saturday and demanding that North Korea cease all missile testing, there was no suggestion that the Security Council was ready to impose tougher sanctions. North Korea has repeatedly conducted missile launches in recent months, despite being barred from doing so under UN rules. And, at the same time, North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, called the latest launching a “curtain-raiser” and warned of more missile tests in the Pacific. President Trump said in an earlier statement that “all options are on the table.” And Japanese citizens, some of whom received a beeping alert on their cellphones just four minutes after the projectile was fired, may be concerned about their pacifist Constitution. • The Associated Press reported that North Korea’s state media says leader Kim Jong-un has called for more ballistic missile launches into the Pacific, just one day after it flew a missile designed to carry a nuclear payload over Japan. The Korean Central News Agency said Wednesday that Kim expressed great satisfaction with the launch, calling it a “meaningful prelude” to containing Guam, the US Pacific territory and military hub. The agency says Kim said the country needs to conduct more ballistic missile tests to the Pacific to advance the capabilities of its strategic force, and it confirmed that the missile fired Tuesday was the Hwasong-12 intermediate range missile it recently threatened to fire toward Guam. The" BBC said that for the first time, North Korea's official news agency KCNA admitted deliberately firing a ballistic missile across Japan. Previous projectiles which crossed the mainland were later claimed to have been satellite launches. • The BBC reported on Wednesday that NK state media also repeated threats to the US Pacific island of Guam, which it called "an advanced base of invasion." The BBC report stated that "Russia and China said US military activity in the region was partly to blame for the increase in tensions, and urged negotiations." • • • PRESIDENT TRUMP SAYS TALK IS OVER. President Trump, in a statement released by the White House, said the world had "received North Korea's latest message loud and clear. This regime has signalled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior. Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime's isolation in the region and among all nations of the world. All options are on the table." • Reuters reported that President Trump on Wednesday said “talking is not the answer” to what Reuters called "the tense standoff with North Korea over its nuclear missile development." But, Reuters quoted Defense Decretary James Mattis as swiftly asserting that the United States "still has diplomatic options." • Trump's point is well-taken. The President tweeted : “The US has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer!” The US Congressional Research Service reports that between 1995 and 2008, the United States provided North Korea with over $1.3 billion in assistance. Slightly more than 50% was for food and about 40% for energy assistance. The assistance was part of a nuclear deal that North Korea later violated. Since early 2009, the United States has provided virtually no aid to North Korea, though periodically there have been discussions about resuming large-scale food aid. • Later, when asked by reporters if the US is out of diplomatic solutions with North Korea, Defense Secretary Mattis replied : “No. We are never out of diplomatic solutions. We continue to work together, and the minister and I share a responsibility to provide for the protection of our nations, our populations and our interests.” Mattis was speaking before a meeting with his South Korean counterpart at the Pentagon. Both MAttis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have repeatedly emphasized finding a diplomatic solution to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. Earlier this month, Mattis told reporters the US effort “is diplomatically led. It has diplomatic traction. It is gaining diplomatic results.” But, the evidence this weekend makes efforts to find a diplomatic solution seem very much like pie-in-the-sky noise. • Perhaps in the white hat / black hat roles being taken by the President and his Secretaries, the most important element comes from other quarters. The US Defense Department’s Missile Defense Agency and the crew of the USS John Paul Jones conducted a “complex missile defense flight test” off Hawaii early on Wednesday, resulting in the intercept of a medium-range ballistic missile target. The agency’s director, Lieutenant General Sam Greaves, called the test “a key milestone” in giving US Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense ships an enhanced capability, but did not mention North Korea. • And, in Geneva, American disarmament ambassador Robert Wood, addressing the UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament, called for "concerted action” by the international community to pressure North Korea into abandoning its banned nuclear and missile program by fully enforcing economic sanctions. America has repeatedly urged China, North Korea’s main ally and trading partner, to do more to rein in Pyongyang. Speaking during a visit to the Japanese city of Osaka, British Prime Minister Theresa May called on China to put more pressure on North Korea. Prime Minister May said that Beijing had a key role in the international response to Pyongyang's "reckless provocation." Asked about Mrs. May's comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said some “relevant sides” were only selectively carrying out the UN resolutions by pushing hard on sanctions yet neglecting to push for a return to talks. Hua said this was not the attitude “responsible countries” should have when the “smell of gunpowder” remained strong over the Korean peninsula, adding, “When it comes to sanctions, they storm to the front but when it comes to pushing for peace they hide at the very back." • Re-read yesterday's blog to get a better feel for the legitimacy of China's portrayal of its efforts to "rein in" its client state North Korea. • • • A CONTAINMENT VIEW OF NK. War on the Rocks, a website that reports on national security, defense and military that publishes articles presented with minimal bias, published a report on Tuesday by Vince A. Manzo and John K. Warden that states : "The North Korea policy of the Donald Trump administration has been mired in a morass of contradiction and bluster. But there might be a silver lining : There is an indication that the administration will follow its predecessors and attempt to deny North Korea the ability to hold the United States at risk with nuclear weapons. If effectively implemented as a part of a comprehensive deterrence strategy, this approach would give the United States and its allies the best chance of containing a nuclear-armed North Korea and avoiding nuclear war." Manzo and Warden say the Bush and Obama administrations, in attempting to formulate an effective strategy, "articulated an important strategic principle : The United States will attempt to deny North Korea the ability to hold the US homeland at risk with nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). This is not, however, the same as saying that the United States will prevent North Korea from testing an ICBM or deploying an operational ICBM force, a goal that does not seem possible without paying an unacceptable cost. Rather, the principle is a signal of US intent to deny North Korea the ability to use the threat of nuclear strikes against the US homeland as coercive leverage." They cite the Bush Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system that was expanded by Obama. The GMD system is designed to defend against North Korean and Iranian ICBMs, and Manzo and Warden say : "The US decision to deploy this system demonstrates that, from a strategic planning perspective, the United States saw a North Korean ICBM as a distinct possibility and took steps to ensure that extended deterrence to Japan and South Korea would remain viable even if North Korea deployed a nuclear-capable missile that could range the continental United States." • The authors ask how the United States could fail to deter North Korean nuclear use? Their answer is : "Pyongyang knows that it cannot use nuclear weapons and other capabilities to defeat US and allied military forces. Instead, Kim Jong Un’s more plausible theory of victory is a strategy that attempts to use nuclear coercion to persuade the United States that the costs and risks of overthrowing the Kim regime are too high. In this sense, North Korea’s initial attempt at asymmetric escalation using nuclear weapons is more likely to be a limited strike against regional military targets than a massive strike against the continental United States. Pyongyang would attempt to degrade the ability of the US to flow forces to the Korean Peninsula, while demonstrating a propensity for controlled risk-taking. But critically, North Korea would retain a survivable reserve nuclear force to threaten destruction of major US population centers if the United States does not back down." Since, according to Manzo and Warden, giving North Korea the flexibility to use asymmetric escalation with the latent assurance that its own nuclear stockpile would not be destroyed could actually lead to NK's limited regional use of nuclear weapons and even limited regional "wars," the best strategy for the United States would be to "field damage limitation capabilities, a combination of strike and missile defense armaments that would allow the United States to disarm the majority of North Korea’s nuclear weapons capability and prevent significant retaliatory strikes against US cities. If the United States has a credible damage limitation option, the Kim regime is more likely to calculate that crossing the nuclear threshold would be a strategy for suicide, not survival, because North Korea would lack a reliable second-strike capability to deter regime change." But, they say that this strategy requires an improved US homeland defense : "The GMD system has well-documented limitations, and the Trump administration should make prudent investments to fix the program, emphasizing the need for cost-effective, reliable capabilities. In addition, the United States and its allies should field a combination of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and strike capabilities that can threaten North Korea’s road-mobile transporter erector launchers and ballistic-missile submarines." • As with all containment scenarios, Manzo and Warden counsel "deterring North Korea from initiating a war and, if that fails, deterring North Korea from using nuclear weapons in that war. To strengthen deterrence of North Korean adventurism, the United States and South Korea also should improve their combined conventional force posture on the peninsula, particularly their ability to fight and win limited wars. To counter the threat of regional nuclear strikes, the United States, South Korea, and Japan should improve their ability to strike and defend against North Korea’s theater-range missiles. In truth, North Korea may see nuclear coercion targeting Japan or South Korea as a more likely path to terminating a war than directly threatening the United States." Because North Korea "may be driven to nuclear use by misinterpreting certain military actions as a prelude to invasion....Taking steps to diminish tension, reduce misunderstanding, and assure Pyongyang that the United States and its allies would only pursue regime change in the most extreme circumstances would decrease the risk of miscalculation....In certain wartime circumstances, the United States and its allies might calculate that pursuing regime change in Pyongyang, despite the enormous costs, is the least bad option. In that case, disarming as much of North Korea’s nuclear force as possible would be a necessity. But in many other scenarios, especially ones in which North Korea has not yet crossed the nuclear threshold, US and allied interests would be better served by conveying to Kim Jong-un that de-escalation is his best chance of survival....Effectively deterring a nuclear-armed North Korea requires measured resolve backed by real strength. By rejecting vulnerability to a North Korean nuclear strike and improving damage limitation capabilities, the United States and its allies can challenge North Korea’s theory of coercive nuclear escalation, inducing caution in both crisis and conflict." [Vince A. Manzo ( is a Research Analyst with the Strategic Initiatives Group at the Center for Naval Analysis (CNA). John K. Warden ( is a Senior Policy Analyst on the Strategic Analysis & Assessments team at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC).] • • • THAAD AND THE IRON DOME. Reading Manzo and Warden leads quickly to a consideration of Israel's experience with Hamas and Hezbollah. Israel is fighting to block rockets from striking its major population centers with its deployed Iron Dome missile defense system to intercept them. Iron Dome is a mobile air defense system developed by Israel with US financial support. It is designed to intercept short-range rockets and artillery shells. • Deutshce Welle published an article on April 26 about missile defense systems. DW says the Iron Dome was fast-tracked after the second Gulf War of 1991, in which NATO's defense system was able to shoot down numerous Soviet-style Scud rockets, which the army of Saddam Hussein fired against Saudi Arabia and Israel. The experience of the Gulf War; according to DW, made Israel speed up work on its own comprehensive missile defense system consisting of several layers. Iron Dome is the centerpiece of the country's air defenses and can intercept even missiles with a much shorter range of only 5 to 70 kilometers. During the massive bombardment with missiles from Gaza between 2012 and 2014, the Iron Dome, according to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), managed to intercept 547 out of 2,968 missiles that were fired from Gaza into Israel" -- after a computerized evaluation of the likelihood of an incoming rocket hitting a populated target. Israelisar now used to the sirens that sound when Hamas fires a rocket, and the Israeli hit rate is reportedly at 90%. Do Americans want to live with a NK threat that leads to sirens?? • There are other missile defense systems, including the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) which is currently being set up in South Korea. DW says what all such missile defense systems have in common is that "they use highly precise ground-, sea- or air based radar to identify the fired missiles and calculate their flight path accurately and in 3D. The computer is also able to detect which missiles actually pose a threat and which ones don't. Thus, the systems can prioitize which of the missiles must be shot down and which can be ignored, like missiles that are going to land in uninhabitated areas or at sea. If they find a missile that threatens a settlement or a city, they launch an interceptor missile." • There are different interceptor missile types : older interceptors carry an explosive load that explodes when it gets close to the target and destroys the attacking missile; they are mostly used to defend against short- and shorter medium-range missiles. Since the early 21st century, western armies are switching to interceptors that don't carry an explosive load, but, rather, are designed to intercept even long-range missiles. • • • THE THAAD SYSTEM. The US is currently installing a THAAD system in South Korea that uses such modern missiles exclusively. These so-called hit-to-kill vehicles are projectiles carried into space by rockets. Once the vehicles separate from the rockets, they are on a collision course with the target missile to destroy it on impact. To make sure the vehicles don't miss the target, they can course-correct via tiny engines located on all sides of the vehicle. • But, says DW, there is practically no experience with intercepting medium-range and intercontinental missiles in a real war scenario. Why? Because these missiles are meant to deliver nuclear warheads and no country has done that since World War II. Test-runs prove that it's possible to hit and destroy medium range missiles in flight. Little is publicly known about THAAD tests, but the US military has recently reported on successful interceptor missile tests in the Pacific. • Some experts believe NK possesses a considerable arsenal of not only medium-range but also intercontinental ballistic missiles. What is certain is that North Korea, since early 2016, has repeatedly fired short- and medium-range missiles, once even from a submarine. It still remains unclear whether the country is able to fit a miniaturized nuclear bomb into a war head that a missile can actually carry. But, the threat is real. • • • THE ISRAELI PRODUCT BLACKLIST. Israel Today published on Wednesday an article about the upcoming “blacklist” of major international companies with business ties to Israeli communities in Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights and eastern Jerusalem. The Blacklist represents yet another attempt by anti-Israel actors in the United Nations to single out and demonize the world’s only Jewish state, experts say. The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) had voted to approve the database of businesses last year, defying objections from the US and Israel. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights -- Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein -- submitted a draft of the blacklist to the countries where the businesses to be Blacklisted are based. He is expected to receive a response from those nations by Friday, and the UNHRC will publish the database by the end of this year. American firms on the list include Caterpillar, TripAdvisor, Priceline and Airbnb, according to the Washington Post. While the list will have no legal consequences for Israel or the companies involved, its opponents say it could put pressure on the UN Security Council to take action. Supporters of the Blacklist compare it to efforts to target international businesses that were involved in apartheid-era South Africa, as well as Arab-led boycotts of Israel as a means to pressure it to change its policies regarding the Palestinians and the disputed territories. • The reality is that the Blacklist undermines the credibility of the UNHRC in specific and the UN in general. • Since taking over as UN Secretary-General in January, Portugal’s António Guterres has attempted to take a more evenhanded approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after years of disproportionate criticism of Israel by the world body. Guterres told the World Jewish Congress in April : “As secretary-general of the United Nations, I consider that the state of Israel needs to be treated as any other state. I have already had the opportunity to show that I’m ready to abide by that principle even when that forces me to take some decisions that create some uncomfortable situations,” he added, referring a move he made to squash a report by former UN official Rima Khalaf that called Israel an “apartheid state.” • For Israel and the US, the question is whether Guterres can stop the release of the Blacklist because of the dominance of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The Trump administration recently urged the human rights commissioner, Hussein, not to publish the Blacklist. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley called the list “shameful” and “counterproductive” to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process : “It is an attempt to provide an international stamp of approval to the anti-Semitic BDS movement. It must be rejected." In June, the US indicated that it may replace its membership in the UNHRC with “other means” for addressing human rights issues, unless the UNHRC significantly reforms its conduct and anti-Israel bias. More than 20 US states have passed legislation in recent years opposing the BDS movement, by requiring state institutions to cease any business with companies that boycott the Jewish state. • What is almost sure is that the Blacklist will be published and that the European Union will honor its recommendation to label Blacklisted Israeli products. • • • DEAR READERS, while Israel is being pummeled at the UN and in Europe, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has rejected American demands that he stop using foreign financial aid to pay stipends and salaries to the families of jailed Palestinian terrorists. Abbas met last week with US envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt as part of President Trump's efforts to restart Middle East peace talks. Israel Today says that according to Israeli journalists present at the meeting, Kushner, who is Trump's son-in-law, restated the long-standing demand that the Palestinian Authority not reward terrorism with financial gain. Congress has repeatedly threatened to halt all foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority over the payments to jailed terrorists, nearly all of whom are incarcerated in Israel for carrying out attacks on Jewish men, women and children. But, Abbas' response was to "inform Kushner that he would never stop paying these salaries until his dying day, even if this cost him the presidency." • While we consider North Korean nuclear-capable ICBMs and the possibility of military confrontation in east Asia, we must not forget the degrading spectacle of anti-Semitism in Europe and the Moslem world. We might well ask, despite his princely status, whether Jordan's Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein should be head of the UNHRC while Israel is being so badly treated. Where is the even-handedness at an UNHRC that is preparing to "Blacklist" anything that relates to Israel. • Perhaps it is time for President Trump to say of the UNHRC and the Palestinian Authority, as he says of North Korea, that "the time for talk is over" -- and get on with sanctioning both entities for their anti-Semitic positions on jihadist terrorists and on Blacklists.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Tangled Nuclear Web of North Korea, Iran, China, Turkey, and Qatar

THE REAL NEWS HAPPENED MONDAY NIGHT WHILE MANY OF US WERE WATCHING UNENDINGLY SAD IMAGES OF HOUSTON UNDER WATER. Every news channel did "alert" cut lines to report that North Korea had just launched an ICBM over Japan. THAT IS TODAY'S REAL NEWS. • • • NORTH KOREA MID-RANGE MISSILE FLIES OVER JAPAN. Fox News, along with all media outlets, reported about 10 PM EDT that North Korea had fired a missile over Japan for the first time since 2009. The Pentagon confirmed the reports that the launch occurred at 6 AM Tuesday local time. The launch is seen as a message of defiance to the US and its allies in the region. The Pentagon said : "We are still in the process of assessing this launch. North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) determined the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America. We are working closely with Pacific Command, Strategic Command and NORAD and will provide an update as soon as possible." A senior US official said that there had been some movement suggesting an intermediate missile was being prepped. • The South Korean military said the missile flew about 1,700 miles with a height of 341 miles, which is lower than the 2,300 mile altitude of an intercontinental ballistic missile launched in late July. North Korea’s July 4 ICBM traveled some 1,700 miles into space. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) confirmed that the missile was fired from the area of Sunan in Pyongyang shortly before 6 AM and flew east, traveling over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga labeled it an "unprecedented grave threat." The US Missile Defense Agency said that the Japanese government alerted the public to take cover in northern areas of Japan but that the Japanese military did not attempt to intercept it. South Korea's presidential office convened a National Security Council (NSC) session quickly after the missile was fired. • North Korea had fired three short-range missiles on Saturday -- all deemed successful despite initial reports suggesting failure, according to the US military. The JCS said the projectiles fired during the weekend from North Korea's eastern coast flew about 155 miles. North Korean missile launches have been happening at an unusually fast pace this year -- Monday's launch was the 18th this year -- and some analysts say the North could have viable long-range nuclear missiles before the end of President Trump's first term in early 2021. North Korea's series of test launches to develop its missile capability included its recent threat to send missiles over western Japan and into waters near the US territory of Guam. Trump at that time warned that the North would be met with "fire and fury like the world has never seen" if threats from the rogue regime continued. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson later said that he was "pleased to see that the regime in Pyongyang has certainly demonstrated some level of restraint that we've not seen in the past." Tillerson said he wanted to continue a "peaceful pressure campaign." • On Tuesday morning, President Trump said "all options are on the table" in a statement released by the White House that read : "The world has received North Korea’s latest message loud and clear: this regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior. Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime’s isolation in the region and among all nations of the world....All options are on the table." • • • WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE NK TEST? The Diplomat published an article by Ankit Panda on Tuesday that warned : "The observed range on Tuesday would put the North Korean missile just short of the required range of strike Guam. North Korea had released a specific trajectory for a Hwasong-12 salvo launch earlier in August through it’s state-run media....Kim Jong-un, reviewed the plan on August 15, but did not authorize a launch. Tuesday’s launch has the political effect of showing off that North Korea now has ballistic missiles that can strike ranges in the upper-range of what the United States would consider a medium-range ballistic missile (1,000 to 3,000 kilometers). A full-range test of the Hwasong-12 could likely exhibit a much greater range; depending on the excess of 4,000 kilometers." Ankit Panda says that the reported break-up of the missile that overflew Japan is not necessarily an indication of design weakness : "Flying missiles on trajectories closer to their minimum energy trajectory would help simulate a more realistic stress and temperature endurance profile for the reentry vehicle. North Korea’s so-called ‘lofted’ tests to date in the Sea of Japan place the reentry vehicles under unrealistic stress profiles, given their descent from apogees that would never be seen in operational flight. If the missile did break up in flight and Pyongyang was able to observe it, that would still give North Korea important diagnostic information to eventually improve its airframe designs." • But, Ankit Panda says that it’s unclear how North Korea would have collected telemetry data on the descent and terminal stages of the missile : "Data collection at that distance would presumably require North Korea to place ship-borne sensors surreptitiously in the area." Panda also was one of the first to report that the US was not surprised by the launch : "The Sunan launch site, near Pyongyang International Airport, is a first for North Korea. The choice of this site suggests that North Korea continues to diversify its prospective operational launch catch the United States off-guard. However, hours before the launch on Tuesday, a US government source with knowledge of the latest US military intelligence on North Korea had told me that a KN17 (the US intelligence community designation for the Hwasong-12) launch was assessed to be likely. The United States was not caught off-guard by this test, despite the introduction of a new launch site." • North Korea took great risks in the latest launch, according to Panda, in choosing to launch a missile "that is still in development with a 75% failure rate to date in such a heavily populated area..." An early failure in flight, says Panda, could have propelled the missile into population centers, causing great destruction." • • • HOW WILL THE US RESPOND? There hasn't been a flight of B-1B Lancer conventional bombers from Guam since early August, not since North Korea levied its threats to strike Guam. The US, Panda believes, may feel compelled to fly bombers near North Korea to reassure Japan of its resolve because one of North Korea’s objectives with these kinds of launches is to drive a wedge between Japan and the US. Regarding political and diplomatic signaling, Panda says the Trump administration "played its cards close to its chest after the launch. Trump reportedly spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the phone and the Department of Defense released a statement assessing the launch, but the administration released no prominent public statement." • Perhaps US reticence to say much was the result of Secretary Tillerson being "burned" by publicly praising North Korea for its "restraint," only to be answered by NK's launch of three presumed Scuds on Saturday, followed by the Tuesday missile Japan fly-over. According to Panda, several analysts and commentators will argue for missile defense as a solution, "but the US Navy’s and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Sea of Japan-based Aegis destroyers would find it hard to manoeuver into firing position on the right trajectory every time NK fires a mid-range missile. • So, the US response will probably consist of a renewed call for sanctions, punishment, and isolation of North Korea at international forums, including the UN Security Council. We know this will be insufficient to deter future tests by Kim Jong-un, who has now proven that his new long-range missiles will allow him to try more aggressive coercive measures with the US and its allies. • • • THE NORTH KOREA PROBLEM IMPACTS US-EGYPTIAN RELATIONS. The Washington Post's Adam Taylor reported on August 24 that the US State Department announced it will withhold millions of dollars in aid to Egypt, a long-standing US ally and a major recipient of American security assistance. More than $290 million -- $96 million in aid and delayed $195 million in military funding -- would be cut or delayed. Egypt's foreign ministry responded angrily, accusing Washington of “poor judgment.” And, the WP took its usual Progressive view : "the move heartened many critics of Trump's foreign policy, who cheered the fact that the administration based its decision on Egypt's poor human rights record. Martin Indyk, the executive vice president of the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, said Trump making a stand on human rights was a “head-scratcher” -- even “Obamaesque.” The truth is that human rights has little to do with the US move, as the WP pointed out far down in its report : "the focus of the move may not be Egypt, but rather North Korea." • Gardiner Harris and Declan Walsh of the New York Times suggest that a key factor in the decision to curtail aid to Cairo is its ongoing relationship with Pyongyang. “Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson’s top priority has been to increase North Korea’s economic and diplomatic isolation, and he has asked foreign leaders in almost every meeting that they cut ties with Pyongyang. The pressure on Egypt appears to be part of a broader US push to make it clear that North Korea is a problem for the world, not just Washington, Seoul and Tokyo." • North Korea, so isolated that it is called the Hermit Kingdom, has been under UN sanctions since 2006. Nevertheless, it has a long history of economic relationships with other counties, and some of these relationships are still around -- North Korea's trade with China and shipping of migrant workers to Russia are not secrets. But there are others. The Washington Post's Kevin Sieff recently reviewed the trade ties between North Korea and African nations, and the Associated Press's Jon Gambrell has reported on the role of NK laborers in US-ally Gulf states. Sieff says some of the trade is "relatively benign," but there is often a military component. Reuters recently reported that two North Korean shipments to a Syrian government agency responsible for its chemical weapons program had been intercepted in August. In any case, no North Korean deal is "benign" because each one provides Pyongyang with hard currency to be used in its nuclear weapons program. • Egypt's relationship with North Korea began during the Cold War, when North Korean fighter pilots helped train their Egyptian counterparts ahead of the 1973 war with Israel. The relationship continued, with Egyptian telecom giant Orascom helping set up North Korea's mobile phone network. • Neither UN sanctions or American military aid appear to have shaken the Egypt-NK relationship. Mohamed Elmenshawy, a columnist at the Egyptian daily Al Shorouk News and Washington Bureau Chief for Alaraby TV, says : “I believe Egypt wants to have it both ways." A recent UN report showed how Egypt appeared to play both sides: Egypt helped intercept a North Korean ship carrying weapons through the Suez Canal last year, but it also was accused of illicitly procuring Scud missile parts from Pyongyang. Anthony Ruggiero, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, wrote in an article in The National Interest : “For more than a decade, under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the United States tolerated and sometimes even contributed directly to the deficiencies of sanctions on Pyongyang." • But, under President Trump, this ambivalence is changing. The Trump administration has made a significant push to sanction Chinese and Russian firms and individuals who do business with North Korea. Trump may have warned Egypt's President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi of possible sanctions during a July phone call, when he called on countries to “fully implement UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea, stop hosting North Korean guest workers, and stop providing economic or military benefits to North Korea,” according to a White House readout of the phone call. The US withholding aid to Egypt is shows how seriously the United States views the North Korean threat. And, in terms of breaking the UN sanctions, Egypt's alleged procurement of missile parts from North Korea is a glaring violation. Egypt has been helping North Korea since the era when Egypt was a close ally of the USSR, says Andrea Berger : "Egypt helped kick-start Pyongyang's nuclear development 40 years ago when it gifted two Soviet-made Scud missiles that North Korean scientists could reverse-engineer. North Korea did just that, and the Scud missile design became the backbone of much of the country’s ballistic missile arsenal." • But, today, there is no possible strategic partner for Egypt except the US, and Trump is using this leverage to ensure that Egypt breaks ties with North Korea. Egypt occupies a pivotal Midle East position and it is imperative for both the US and Egypt, as well as Saudi Arabia and Israel, that Egypt remain on the side of the US coalition, even though it has continuing links to China and Russia. And, of course, there is the elephant in the Middle east nuclear room -- Iran. • • • THE NORTH KOREA - IRAN MISSILE LINK. Early in August, CNBC reported that North Korea's 'No. 2' official Kim Yong Nam, chairman of the Supreme Assembly of North Korea, visited Iran. This occurred as the UN Security Council was imposing the latest round of sanctions on Pyongyang -- banning exports of North Korean coal, lead, iron ore and seafood that could reduce the Hermit Kingdom's export revenue by one-third. Iran's official IRNA news agency confirmed that Kim Yong Nam had traveled to Iran for the inauguration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. But, since Kim stayed 10 days, the trip is seen as a front for Pyongyang to perhaps increase military cooperation and facilitate hard currency availability with Teheran. North Korea's newly built embassy in Teheran opened before Kim Yong Nam's arrival, and the North's state-run KCNA news agency said the embassy was "built to boost exchanges, contacts and cooperation between the two countries for world peace and security and international justice." • The new UN sanctions on NK were proposed to the full Security Council by the US, after China, North Korea's longtime ally and its largest trading partner, agreed to them. But, after his swearing-in ceremony, Iran's Rouhani said, "The sanctions policy in today's world is a failed and fruitless policy," according to a report from Iran's semi-official Fars news agency. Meanwhile, Kim Yong Nam is believed to have taken a delegation of other officials with him to Iran, including economic and military officials. • In July, CIA Director Mike Pompeo said in a speech at the Intelligence and National Security Alliance that he had : "created two new mission centers aimed at focusing on putting a dagger in the heart of the Korean problem and the problem in Iran." After the second ICBM test in July, defense experts said it appears North Korea's long-range ballistic missile has the range to reach at least half of the continental United States, and Iran could have an ICBM capability similar to North Korea within a few years -- it recently successfully launched a satellite-carrying rocket seen as a precursor to long-range ballistic missile weapon capability. • Iran and North Korea have longstanding missile development cooperation. Early generations of Iranian missiles are thought to be adapted North Korean missiles. For example, experts say that Teheran's Shahab-3 ballistic missile, capable of reaching Saudi Arabia from Iranian land, is based on technology from North Korea's Nodong-1 rockets. Iran's Ghadir small submarine, which conducted a cruise-missile test earlier this year, is remarkably similar to those used by Pyongyang. If Iran successfully tests a missile on a North Korean-style miniature submarine, Teheran’s ability to threaten US ships in the Strait of Hormuz would increase greatly. • • • HAVE IRAN AND NK MOVED FROM MISSILES TO NUCLEAR COOPERATION? There remains a question as to the Iran - NK cooperation on nuclear weapons development. Some former CIA analysts have said Iranian scientists have attended nuclear tests in North Korea. There are recent reports North Korea may be preparing for its sixth nuclear test, and it's possible that new international sanctions could provoke Pyongyang to undertake the test as a form of protest. Teheran's hands are 'officially' tied under the international nuclear agreement, although there's serious speculation that Iran could be secretly working with North Korea on nuclear research jointly carried out on the Korean Peninsula. Israeli experts say their close cooperation on missiles is reason to believe they could be cooperating in the nuclear area. • Another article in The Diplomat, by Samuel Ramani, published on May 13, reported : "On May 2, 2017, the Iranian military conducted a missile test from a Ghadir-class submarine in the Strait of the Hormuz. Even though the missile test failed, the close similarities between Iran’s Ghadir-class submarine and North Korea’s Yono-class miniature submarine alarmed Western policymakers." US defense experts say Iran’s missile test was proof of continued Teheran-Pyongyang military cooperation, and that Iran’s ballistic missile program continues to rely on North Korean military technology, despite severe sanctions on NK. But, says Ramani : "Even though parallel missile evelopments are powerful indicators of collaboration between Iran and North Korea, American and Israeli analysts have intensely debated the nature of the Teheran-Pyongyang partnership." Former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton has been one of the most outspoken proponents of the view that Iran-North Korea cooperation is largely transactional. In an early 2107 interview, Bolton declared that if North Korea gets nuclear missiles, “Iran could have that capability the next day” because of Teheran’s long-standing defense contracts with the DPRK and Pyongyang’s "desperate need for hard currency." Experts say there is compelling evidence that Teheran-Pyongyang ballistic missile technology cooperation is a more mutual exchange than many US policymakers assume. Ramani quotes Israeli defense analyst Tal Inbar, who recently said that Iran purchased North Korea’s technical know-how on ballistic missile production, upgraded the DPRK missiles’ forward section, and distributed these advancements back to North Korea. The similarities between North Korean missiles launched during recent tests and Iranian technology suggests that Iran is a possible contributor to North Korea’s nuclear buildup, rather than a mere transactional partner, as Bolton has suggested. And, the NK Yono-class submarine’s undetectability helped the DPRK sink South Korea’s ROKS Cheonan ship in 2010. If Iran gains possession of similar naval capabilities equipped with sophisticated ballistic missiles, the costs of a US military confrontation with Teheran would increase greatly. It would also seriously impact the regional balance of power. Ramani states that the head of the US military in the Pacific, Admiral Harry Harris, recently underlined that US adherence to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty prevents it from developing short- and medium-range missile deterrents to neutralize Iran’s missile developments. • And, if Iran solves the problems in North Korean missile technology and gains a 2,500-mile strike range, Teheran’s ability to militarily challenge Israel, Saudi Arabia, Europe, and the United States will strengthen considerably. This prospect explains why Iran undoubtedly views its partnership with North Korea as a key component of its broader strategy to reshape the balance of power in the Middle East. [Samuel Ramani can be followed on Twitter at samramani2 and on Facebook at Samuel Ramani. Ankit Panda, a senior editor at The Diplomat can be reached at < > ] • • • WHAT ELSE SHOULD WE CONSIDER? A lot. • CHINA. China plays a critical role in supporting Pyongyang’s illegal weapons activities. From the start, North Korea’s nuclear program with Chinese technology acquired through a network in Pakistan, and on into the decades of Beijing’s logistical, financial, and diplomatic support, China has admitted nothing about its active participation in fostering the buildup of the NK nuclear and missile programs. It is utterly untrue, as every US President has said, that : “China shares the American concern regarding nuclear proliferation; it is in fact the country most immediately affected by it.” • Joseph Bosco -- China country director in the office of the Secretary of Defense under President G.W. Bush, and now a fellow at the Institute for Corean-American Studies and a senior associate at the Institute for Taiwan-American Studies -- says China has repeatedly spread dangerous and illegal technology directly to North Korea, and through it to a network of rogue states. It has been not only a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction, but a proliferator of proliferators. Moreover, it has refused to join more than 100 other nations in the Proliferation Security Initiative, which provides for the interdiction of nuclear materials and missile components." China adds insult to injury when it portrays the North Korea crisis as an American problem, to be solved by Washington, says Bosco : "If President Trump concludes that China cannot or will not restrain North Korea, and that military action is therefore necessary, Beijing will bear a major part of the responsibility for that decision and its consequences.....the perennial North Korea crisis has actually served China’s strategic interests as a major diplomatic distraction and resource diversion for the West. It has enabled China to posture as a responsible international stakeholder and a good-faith negotiating partner entitled to some deference on other issues such as currency, trade, Taiwan, and the South China Sea." Bosco says President Trump realizes this : "Continued pressure on Beijing to address the regional security crisis North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles present now, and clear warnings to Pyongyang for its continued provocations." • TURKEY. Al-Monitor reported last week that Iran and Turkey are moving to re-establish their roles as the Middle East's axis. Despite their major differences over key regional crises in past years, shared threats and shared objectives are once again pushing Iran and Turkey together. As the wars in Iraq and Syria, from an Iranian point of view, are coming closer to an end, a common threat in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region is causing both countries to put aside differences and unify efforts to prevent a domino effect that might harm their national security -- namely the Kurdish dream of an independent state. On August 15, Iran’s Chief of Staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri made a rare official visit to Turkey to meet his counterpart, General Hulusi Akar, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to Bagheri, the visit was “necessary to exchange views and more cooperation on the military subjects and different regional issues, issues related to the two countries' security, security of borders and fighting against terrorism.” Erdogan then said on August 21 that Turkey and Iran are discussing a joint military campaign in northern Iraq against the Kurdistan Workers Party and the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan. Erdogan’s words were later denied by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, but, prior to the denial, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Qassemi told reporters : “The trip was exceptional in that we did not have such visits at such levels for the past 40 years....The talks were important and decisive....Both countries are going to take necessary steps to make sure Iraqi Kurdistan doesn't split from Iraq, by any means necessary. For Iran, ending the war in Syria needs Turkish assistance, given its good ties with several sunni groups that Teheran describes as 'terrorists.' ” Either Turkey will have to abandon these groups or convinces them to disarm. Al-Monitor says Kurdistan’s planned referendum worries both Iran and Turkey. To Teheran, the referendum -- and possible independence -- introduces three threats. First, a Kurdish state in Iraq could ignite a Kurdish domino effect in the region, enhancing the independence dreams of Kurds in Syria, Turkey and perhaps Iran. The second threat is that an independent Kurdish state could mean the partition of Iraq after a possible Iraqi sunni call for a similar referendum, ending with at least three small unstable nations as Iran's neighbors. Iraqi shiites are stressed internally by their renewed divisions caused by Saudi Arabia’s successful attempts to attract some factions to its camp. And, if Iraq is divided, Syrian borders will be fuzzy again, with no guarantee of cooperation with the Iranians and their allies. The third threat for Teheran’s is that an independent Kurdistan, given the Kurdish autonomous region’s good ties with Israel, will give Israel the chance to spy on Iran. This will pose a great threat to the Islamic Republic, the Islamic revolution and, thus, to Iran’s national security and stability. And, for the future, we have to ask if an Iran-Turkey alliance would necessarily draw Turkey into the Iran-North Korea effort to create a nuclear missile capability -- that result would move the NK-Iran nuclear threat to Europe's doorstep. • QATAR. Al-Monitor reported on Sunday that Qatar’s August 23 decision to return its ambassador to Teheran could strengthen Iran’s hand in Syria, while further blurring the sunni-shiite fault line in the region. Qatar said it aspires to “strengthen bilateral relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran in all fields,” which has inflamed the crisis in the Gulf. Anwar Gargash, the United Arab Emirates minister of state for foreign affairs, said the decision “embarrasses Qatar.” So, with Qatar, Iran has now has a second “sunni” state in its regional network, following Turkey. Al-Monitor says Yemen will surely also be on the agenda for future Iran-Qatar bilateral talks. Saudi Arabia can hardly be happy about Iran-Qatar consultations on Yemen, which is at the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula. • • • DEAR READERS, that leaves Israel. Al-Monitor says an Israeli security official told their US counterparts last week : “'Whatever happens here after the war in Syria will shape the face of the Middle East, and perhaps the entire world, for generations. If the cease-fire agreement does not also include a shiite retreat, and not just a victory over the sunnis, a disaster will happen. You’re disturbing the incredibly delicate balance in the Middle East. The immediate price will be paid by those who live here, but in the end, the bill, once again, will be sent to you.” Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, says Al-Monitor, "sees this current diplomatic effort as a continuation of his efforts to thwart the Iranian nuclear deal. He is doing exactly what he did during 2009-14, hoping that he’ll have greater success this time.” In addition to the August 18 visit to Washington by a senior Israeli security delegation led by Yossi Cohen, the head of Mossad, Al-Monitor reports : “This big picture is what the Israelis are also presenting to the Russians. Cohen and the new National Security Council head, Meir Ben-Shabbat, flew with Netanyahu to a meeting with Putin. Netanyahu told Putin that Iran’s presence in Syria is a threat to Israel, the Middle East and the entire world. He noted that Iran continues to threaten Israel's existence, to support terrorist organizations and to develop its missile capabilities....Intelligence presented to Putin was meant to show him that Iran is not the stabilizing and responsible regional actor the Russians believe, but the complete opposite.” Israel is concerned about what’s happening in Syria and Lebanon, where work reportedly is beginning to build a factory to produce precision rockets in Lebanon, using Iranian and North Korean technology. The entire Middle East is concerned about this. Israel does not intend to let such a factory reach the production stage. It hopes that Moscow and Teheran will at some point grasp this.” • The web is so tangled that nobody is sure how all the parts connect. But, it is certain that the Iran-North Korea nuclear missile joint program will spread to the Middle East and threaten the West unless the United States, its sunni Gulf Arab allies, and Israel are determined to use whatever means are required to prevent it.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Trump Takes on Harvey, Hillary's Real Creeps, Merkel's Election Hits Her Open Door, and Rising European Anti-Semitism

TODAY'S REAL NEWS IS MANY-FACETED. It comes from Texas, Germany, and the never-ending Hillary saga. • • • PRESIDENT TRUMP WORKS TO HELP TEXAS. On Sunday afternoon, President Trump held a second Cabinet meeting on Hurricane Harvey to shore up response and recovery efforts. More than 450,000 people are expected to be homeless for at least two months. Trump along with Vice President Pence led a video teleconference with Cabinet and senior administration officials “to discuss ongoing federal support for Hurricane Harvey response and recovery,” the White House press office said in a statement that also announced that Trump will visit affected areas in Texas on Tuesday. Harvey has hammered Texas since Friday, when it made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane. The federal government has 5,000 people on site in Texas and Louisiana, where the storm continues to bring torrential rain and flooding that are expected to last through Wednesday. At least five deaths from the storm have been reported. The director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said recovery efforts would take years, and FEMA will be there to help, FEMA director Brock Long told the media : "This is 'probably the worst disaster the state’s seen.' ” President Trump spent Sunday morning posting a series of tweets that “continued to stress his expectation that all departments and agencies stay fully committed to supporting the Governors of Texas and Louisiana and his number one priority of saving lives.” Vice President Mike Pence tweeted on Sunday that Trump’s top priority is saving lives : “@POTUS stressed all depts & agencies stay committed to supporting Govs of Texas & Louisiana & his number one priority of saving lives.” The Pence statement added that Trump “reminded everyone that search and rescue efforts will transition to mass care, restoring power, providing life-sustaining necessities for the population that sheltered in place, and economic recovery....“[and] urged survivors impacted by the storm to continue to heed the instructions of their State and local officials.” • President Trump and his administration are pulling out all the stops to help Texas in the wake of what everyone is calling "a catastrophe" that will take years of rebuilding. Rockport is "without any infrastructure." Houston, America's 4th largest city, is under 20 inches of water and the rain continues. But, we have a President fully engaged on the side of Americans, instead of playing golf. It feels much better. • • • MERKEL REAPS WHAT SHE HAS SOWN. As German Chancellor Angela Merkel continues her rallies leading up to the German national elections in September, she is running into angry protesters at her rallies, holding signs and shouting for Merkel to "Get Lost." With less than a month until the German election, Chancellor Merkel was booed and jeered by protesters at an election rally in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt, as reported the German newspaper Die Welt on Saturday. In a YouTube video posted by Lutz Bachmann, the co-founder of Germany’s PEGIDA movement -- Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West -- Merkel’s entire speech was drowned out by hundreds of angry protesters telling her to “Get lost.” • Merkel’s policy of open borders for illegal migrants, and the resulting migrant crime wave and frequent terrorist attacks, have created a lot of pent-up anger and resentment among German voters. Earlier this week, Merkel’s rally in Bergisch-Gladbach in northwestern Germany was also disrupted by protesters whistling and demanding she “Get lost.” The UK Daily Express noted last week : “[Merkel’s] election campaign team are well used to boos during their tour of Germany a month before the September 24 election.” • Die Welt covered Merkel’s recent election rally in Quedlinburg, Saxony-Anhalt and published this report : "Chancellor Angela Merkel’s campaign appearance in Quedlinburg was partially marred by loud protests. She had to face a barrage of catcalls and shouts of protest at the election event of Saxony-Anhalt State Unit of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Citizens held placards belonging to AfD [Alternative for Germany] and hand-made signs with slogans 'Merkel must go' or 'Thank You Merkel' with painted blood spatters. According to CDU estimates, nearly 3,000 people came at the market place of Harz-Stadt. Merkel reacted to the protests, saying, 'Some believe that one can overcome and solve the problems [affecting] the people in Germany by shouting. I don’t believe it, and assume that people [gathered] here at this place don’t think so either.' ” • While Merkel is leading in most of the polls and is mainstream media’s pick to win the national parliamentary election that will decide who becomes the next German Chancellor, she faces serious public anger for her ill-advised ‘Refugee Policy’ that opened the borders of Europe to millions of illegal immigrants, mainly men from Arab and Moslem countries. In July, Merkel publicly rejected any future restriction on the number of undocumented migrants entering into Germany if she were to win the election. She told a media interview : “As far as an upper limit is concerned, my position is clear : I will not accept it.” • Merkel has much to account for. Her open-door policy has let more than a million unvetted migrants into Europe. Her open-door policy has split the European Union wide open into factions that publicly refuse to take in her unilaterally-imposed quotas for EU member states, factions that are ambivalent and take very few refugees while mouthing support for Merkel, factions led by EU heads of state that openly support her -- especially France, and factions that bear the brunt of the open-door policy with little help from Merkel or the EU -- especially Greece, Italy and Spain. Her refusal to back down is evidence of her power in the EU and her misguided belief that Europe needs the workers that she hopes these illegal Moslem migrants will become in order to survive economically. • America hears very little about the knife attacks and rapes committed by migrants because they are hushed up even in local media. But, the suicide bombs and vans have taken their toll on Europeans whose complacency and support for Merkel's open door are turning into anger and demands for migrants to be detained and expelled, and for the open door to shut. • If Merkel wins the September election, as most pre-election polls suggest, German voters may well be sealing the fate of their country, if not that of the whole of Christian Europe. It should be the uppermost consideration German voters have as they go to the polls beginning on September 24. • • • HILLARY CLINTON AND ANGELA MERKEL ARE SOMEWHAT SIMILAR. First and foremost, they both hate Donald Trump. • HILLARY. American Thinker's Daniel John Sobieski wrote last week : "The latest evidence of Hillary Clinton’s total detachment from reality is found in the excerpt from the audio version of her book "What Happened," in which she complains of candidate Donald Trump invading her space in the second presidential debate. Not since Captain Queeg in The Caine Mutiny have we seen such paranoia and one sincerely hopes she finds her missing strawberries. Maybe the Russians ate them." NBC News reported : "In the first excerpts from Hillary Clinton's highly anticipated upcoming memoir, the former Democratic presidential candidate said her 'skin crawled' during a debate with Donald Trump. In audio clips of Clinton reading from the book, "What Happened," which were first aired by MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Wednesday, Clinton recounted her thoughts as she toyed with the idea of telling her Republican rival to "back up, you creep" as he stood behind her during the second presidential debate." Clinton says on the audio clip : "My skin crawled. It was one of those moments where you wish you could hit pause and ask everyone watching 'well, what would you do?' " • Sobieski repeated Hillary's statement that she decided against telling Trump, "back up, you creep, get away from me," and in order to keep her composure, she gripped the microphone "extra hard." Sobieski added : "Her grasp on the truth is less firm. Consider this comes from the serial liar who dodged sniper fire in Bosnia, was named for Sir Edmund Hillary, the man who climbed Mt. Everest years after she was born, and who claimed the Benghazi terrorist attack was caused by a video. If you actually watch replays of that debate you see no such intimidation and the only time candidate Trump was standing behind Hillary was when she crossed to his side of the stage to make a point, ending up in front of Trump who was standing by and walking around his podium." • "Creep"??? Perhaps Mrs. Clinton was thinking of the wrong man -- she probably meant her "creepy" husband, Bill, the serial sexual assaulter and rapist, or perhaps Hillary was thinking of "creepy" disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner, husband of aide and confidante Huma Abedin, sexting pictures of himself to young women when he wasn’t looking at classified emails from Hillary that Huma forwarded to Weiner’s laptop. • As Sobieski notes, if Hillary Clinton is worried about someone breathing down her neck, perhaps it should be a Trump Department of Justice that has reopened the investigation into her multiples felonies regarding mishandling classified emails and deleting emails that were under subpoena, to name a few : "Hillary Clinton has met a few creeps in her life, but President Trump is not one of them." • MERKEL. Chancellor Merkel has spent the last 8 months attacking President Trump. Newsweek in early July wrote : "German Chancellor Angela Merkel is no longer describing Donald Trump’s US as a 'friend' in campaign literature for the country's elections in September, and divisions are expected to widen between the leaders at the G20 summit this week. Merkel’s conservative party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU/CSU) four years ago described the US as Germany’s 'most important friend outside Europe,' and the relationship between the countries as the 'cornerstone' of Germany’s international relations. However, the party has dropped the amicable language from campaign literature ahead of federal elections, after a cooling in the relationship between the countries since Trump replaced Barack Obama as president. In its new manifesto the CDU/CSU refers to the relationship as Germany’s most important “partnership” outside Europe." Well, "creeps" can be like that -- actually demanding that Germany pay its fair share in defending the continent along with the US and NATO and criticizing the German Chancellor's open door for making the defense job much more difficult. • Politico reported in late July on the Merkel - US disagreement over trade. "Germany creates American jobs," Angela Merkel said in response to criticism from the White House over Germany exporting significantly more than it imports." Speaking at the annual gathering of The Economic Council of the CDU, the business arm of Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU, the Chancellor defended German industry, before her meeting with President Trump at the G20 summit : “The fact that we have 10 times as much direct investment from Germany in the United States than there’s American investment in Germany has, of course...a strong effect on the many jobs we create [in the U.S.,]” Merkel said. The Chancellor added the US “should also take into account that BMW has its largest production site not in Germany but in the United States...and exports more cars from there into third countries than Ford and General Motors combined.” • Merkel's remarks -- enthusiastically applauded by the audience -- missed the point the US has been making about Germany. Its current account surplus is the largest in Europe and many European economic and fiscal experts are clamoring for the Chancellor to release some of that surplus cash to help EU countries beaten down into a chronic state of non-competitiveness by Germany's vastly superior industial output to the EU and the rest of the world. Merkel's remarks followed a broadcast statement by US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who addressed Merkel and the crowd of business leaders via a live-stream from Washington. Ross said : “As your biggest customer, we hope to attain a larger share of your market,” Ross said, echoing repeated US criticism of Germany’s record current account surplus. In May, Trump called Germany “bad, very bad” during a meeting with EU leaders in Brussels, referring to the country’s exports. • Mrs. Merkel on August 11 also rejected President Trump's direct verbal attacks on North Korea.When asked at a press conference in Berlin whether Germany would “stand by the US in case of war,” Merkel did not respond directly but said : “I consider an escalation of rhetoric the wrong answer. I do not see a military solution to this conflict,” she added. Instead, the chancellor suggested that the crisis should be resolved through the United Nations Security Council and cooperation between the US and regional powers like China, South Korea and Japan. The Chancellor has not noted publicly that Trump's direct challenge brought Kim Jong-un to his "senses" and he chose to "observe" a while longer before launching ICBMs toward Guam. • However, politics is politics and whatever it takes can be said if it helps bring in votes -- Reuters reported last Wednesday that Chancellor Angela Merkel said Donald Trump must be shown appropriate respect for holding the office of the US President, even if she may differ with him on policy issues. As Merkel campaigns for a fourth term in office, she has refused to bend to pressure from her Social Democrat (SPD) rivals to resist demands by Trump for NATO members to increase their defense spending. Merkel has said that as a committed Atlanticist, she has stressed the strength of German relations with the United States even when flagging differences in opinion on policy : “If you take the President of the United States, whatever differences of opinion there may be, I know he prevailed in a tough election. It wasn’t reserved for him on a silver platter. In the end, he won the election under American electoral law and that means he is democratically elected and that this person should be shown the appropriate respect, regardless of how I assess his views." Why is Chancellor Merkel so kind all of a sudden?? Look no farther than her political campaign. Her socialist SPD challenger, Martin Schulz, has been far more critical of Trump, referring to the US President as “this irresponsible man in the White House.” And, whatever else Mrs. Merkel has got wrong, especially her open door, she is too good a politician not to realize that the United States is Germany's most important and dependable partner or friend -- you choose -- and she also recognizes that most Germans agree with her on this issue and find the SPD and Schulz's labeling of President Trump unacceptable. • Now, if we could just get Mrs. Merkel to talk to Hillary and her Progressive Democrat co-conspirators, perhaps President Trump could get on with governing the US and helping the world -- and Europe. • • • ANTI-SEMITISM RAISES ITS UGLY HEAD IN EUROPE. One thing Chancellor Merkel could address is the EU's mounting anti-Semitism. American Thinker's Rick Moran reported on Saturday the results of a new study, "Antisemitic Violence in Europe, 2005-2015," written by Johannes Due Enstad of the Oslo-based Center for Studies of the Holocaust and the University of Oslo and jointly published by both institutions, features conclusions that many would find surprising. • John Bolton's Gatestone Institute summarizes the analysis of statistics from France, Britain, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Russia, showing that one of these seven countries "clearly stands out with a very low number" of anti-Semitic incidents despite its "relatively large Jewish population -- Russia. Gatestone writes : "Enstad concludes that right-wingers, in all four of the major Western European countries in his study, 'constitute a clear minority of perpetrators.' Indeed, 'in France, Sweden and the UK (but not in Germany) the perpetrator was perceived to be left-wing more often than right-wing.' Russia, Enstad adds : "is also the only case in which there is little to indicate that Jews avoid displaying their identity in public." In addition, it is the only one of the six countries in which the majority of perpetrators of anti-Semitic violence are not Moslems." Gatestone Institute explains the result in this way : "Would-be Jew-bashers in Russia know that if they're arrested for committing acts of violence, the consequences won't be pretty. In western Europe, by contrast, the courts are lenient, the terms of confinement short, and the prisons extremely comfortable. And while Moslems know that they are a protected class in Western Europe, able to commit all kinds of transgressions with near-impunity, that is far from being the case in Putin's Russia." And, Enstad found that although politicians and the media in Western Europe like to talk as if Jews (and others) in their countries are principally endangered by the far-right, "Russia is, in fact, the only one of the seven countries in Enstad's study in which that group does play a significant role in anti-Semitic acts." • Jews in France appear to be most at risk for violence. Nearly 10% of French Jews say they have been physically attacked for being Jewish during the past five years; in Germany and Sweden the figure is 7.5%, in Britain 5%. Asked how often they "avoid visiting Jewish events or sites" for fear of danger, 7.9% of Jews in Sweden say they do so frequently, followed by Jews in France, Germany, and Britain (where the number is only 1.2%). Asked if they "avoid wearing, carrying or displaying things" in public that would identify them as Jews, 60% of Swedish Jews say they do so "all the time" or "frequently," with, again, France, Germany, and Britain following in that order. Almost 50% of French Jews have considered emigrating because they feel imperiled in their own country; for Germany the figure is 25%, and for Sweden and Britain it is just under 20%. • Enstad relied on both independent studies and official statistics to compile his report, and he questions the "official statistics" from Germany. Enstad weighed official statistics from all of the countries under examination, but found that while those from most of the countries, according to Gatestone, "essentially jibe with the results of independent studies, those published by both Germany and Sweden are fishy, in some cases betraying an apparent effort by officials to massage the numbers to avoid certain uncomfortable facts. While an independent survey, for example, concludes that right-wing extremists make up a small minority of perpetrators of anti-Semitic violence in Germany, German police statistics blame most such violence on just right-wingers. Enstad, in his polite way, suggests that this discrepancy is the result of 'a categorisation problem.' " • It could also be Germany's way of avoiding the reality that its new Moslem migrant population is both anti-Semitic and left-wing. • The new report shows that the anti-Semitism in Europe that directly led to the Holocaust is alive and well and crawling out from under the rock where it has been hiding. And, American Thinker's Rick Moran says it's only going to get worse : "As Europe becomes more and more Islamized, the kind of casual, nauseating anti-Semitism that most Moslems feel toward Jews will manifest itself in more violence. Eventually, it's possible to envision a point where most European Jews will either be expelled or leave voluntarily. • But, says Moran, the report is a warning that will probably go unheeded : "History weighs heavily on Christian Europe, and the arrival of hundreds of thousands of anti-Semites who are taught that Jews are lower than dogs and pigs will only exacerbate the problem." • The rising anti-Semitism in Europe led to Barcelona's Chief Rabbi Meir Bar-Hen's saying after the Barcelona terror attacks : "Jews are not here permanently. I tell my congregants : Don’t think we’re here for good. And I encourage them to buy property in Israel. This place is lost...Europe is lost." • Israel Today, writing about the Chief Rabbi's comment, stated : "Generally speaking, European Jewish leaders are extremely cautious, and would seldom, if ever, dare to call upon Jews of their respective countries to pack their belongings and move to Israel. The negative backlash to Netanyahu urging Jews to leave Europe following the January 2015 attack on a Jewish supermarket in Paris is still well remembered. 'To all the Jews of France, all the Jews of Europe, I would like to say that Israel is not just the place in whose direction you pray; the State of Israel is your home,' said the Israeli leader at the time. Netanyahu made a similar plea just a month later following the February 2015 attack outside a Copenhagen synagogue that left a Jewish security guard dead. These calls to immigrate, which were made by other Israeli officials as well, were criticized by many European Jewish leaders. Rabbi Menachem Margolin, director of the European Jewish Association, argued that encouraging Jews to leave Europe "severely weakens and damages the Jewish communities that have the right to live securely wherever they are." Chief Rabbi of Denmark, Yair Melchior, likewise criticized Israel by stating that 'if the way we deal with terror is to run somewhere else, we should all run to a deserted island.' " • Israel Today says the Barcelona call for Jews to leave is different : "The ISIS attack on Barcelona has elicited a similar reaction, but this time it's not Israeli officials urging Jews to flee to their ancestral homeland. It's coming from a prominent leader in the European Diaspora. Rabbi Bar-Hen wasn't referring only to the terror attack. He says that Spain is not only reluctant to confront Islamic terror, it fails to recognize the danger of Moslem fanaticism, as the case of Leila Khaled has clearly demonstrated. Khaled, a Palestinian terrorist convicted for hijacking airplanes in 1969 and 1970, was allowed to participate in the latest Barcelona 'Revolution Means Life' book fair in May....This wasn't an oversight by Barcelona's municipality. Five months ago, the city, led by Mayor Ada Colau Ballano of the far-left en Comú party, issued a statement supporting the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The city's official declaration from last April states that the 'Barcelona City Council puts an end to the complicity of the city of Barcelona in the flagrant, systematic human rights violations of the colonizing occupation and expansion of the State of Israel in Occupied Palestinian Territories, and recognizes the right to BDS.' " A city welcoming BDS and convicted terrorists is enough for Bar-Hen to reach the conclusion that European Jewish communities are doomed. But, as was always the case, most Jews are the last to recognize their own precarious situation. So it's little surprise that we now hear Barcelona Jewish Community spokesman Victor Sorrenssen saying : 'We Jews will not leave our city...we are living a revival of Jewish culture.' " • • • LABELING ISRAELI PRODUCTS SOLD IN THE EU. In November 2015, the EU infuriated Israel by adopting a motion declaring that products from settlements would have to be labelled as such across the EU. Israel suspended some co-operation with the EU and a minister called the decision "disguised anti-Semitism." Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, also reacted when the UN Human Rights Council insisted in proceeding to publish a 'blacklist' of the names of companies operating in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and in the Golan Heights. The list will be useful for adherents of the international Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, such as the EU, which has ordered its member nations not to allow the goods to bear the label, “made in Israel” but rather to label products imported from Israeli companies located in Judea or Samaria as “Made in the West Bank” or “Made in Judea” or “Made in Samaria.” Danon said : "This shameful step is an expression of modern anti-Semitism and reminds us of dark periods in history....the Human Rights Commissioner is seeking to harm Israel, and in doing so has become the world’s most senior BDS activist.” • The United States has been adamantly opposed to the UN plan to publish a blacklist of companies that do business with Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria. US diplomats say the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights -- Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein -- told US officials he intends to publish the blacklist by the end of 2017. The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council has approved the database of these companies. Al Hussein, the former Jordanian Ambassador to the US, postponed publishing the blacklist in response to a US request. But he is adamant about publishing what he argues is a vital resource for consumers and travelers. The US and Israel say the criteria for who makes the blacklist are vague and arbitrary because the definition of what constitutes “settlement activity” can be stretched to include any imaginable commercial activity in Judea and Samaria. The Jewish Express says : " It should be noted that Arab media, including in Jordan, habitually refers to all Israelis as 'settlers,' as in reports on Israeli visitors to the Temple Mounts who are regularly described as 'settlers storming Al-Aqsa Mosque.' ” • The UK Independent reports that France is the first EU country to label Israeli goods : "France has said goods from the Israeli occupied Palestinian territories must be labelled as such, prompting Israel to accuse the country of aiding a boycott of the Jewish State. Paris published guidelines on enforcing European Union (EU) regulations on produce from the West Bank, including annexed east Jerusalem, which the international community considers occupied Palestinian land, and the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria in 1967. The EU ruled that products from Israeli settlements should be clearly labelled a year ago, but France is the first member state to enforce the decision....An advisory notice on the French Government website said: 'Under international law the Golan Heights and the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, are not part of Israel.' It said labelling goods simply as 'from the West Bank' or 'from Golan Heights' without providing more details is 'not acceptable.' Instead, goods must be clearly marked as coming from an 'Israeli settlement,' when that is the case, to avoid 'the risk of misleading the consumer.' " The Israeli Foreign Ministry says it "regrets that France, which actually has a law against boycotts, is advancing measures that can be interpreted as encouraging radical elements and the movement to boycott Israel." Hugh Lovatt, Israel coordinator at the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank, says France is the first member state to act on the EU decision. Lovatt said France's frustration in recent months at Israel's refusal to attend a Paris-led peace conference, together with Israel's continued expansion of the settlements, could have motivated the move. He added there had also been concerted action by French civil society and lawmakers. • If the idea of labeling Israeli goods being sold in the EU market reminds you of the Nazi regime's yellow patches forced to be pinned to every Jewish person's chest, you are not alone. • • • DEAR READERS, anti-Semitism has not died in Europe where it has thrived for a thousand years. One can only hope that European Jews are right to believe they are safe in the EU. But if not, at least Jews now have a safe haven waiting for them in Israel. Chancellor Merkel, instead of bashing President Trump, ought to consider how to better secure the rights of European Jews. And, she should also consider in the greatest haste the fact that her Christian and other non-Jewish fellow Europeans do not have even the security of an Israel to flee to, a place where they can be safe from the Moslem migrants who are not welcome except by the EU elites who support Merkel because of her German funding for the collapsing EU experiment. The millions of Europeans who currently see their way of life, their culture, and their religion threatened by the Chancellor's open door should weigh heavily their vote in September. When the next election rolls around, it may be too late to save Europe as part of western civilization.