Friday, December 15, 2017

China and Iran : As with All Vital Interests, the Time to Curtail Their Aggression Is Now

IT'S SATURDAY. LET'S TALK ABOUT CHINA AND IRAN. They are both regimes up to no-good that need to be closely watched and controlled. • • • CHINA EXPORTS COMMUNISM. The Washington Free Beacon wrote an article about China's "influence operations" on Thursday. Free Beacon reporter Bill Gertz says : "China's Communist Party is engaged in sophisticated global influence operations using money to buy supporters and deceive foreign audiences about Beijing's rights abuses, experts told a congressional China commission on Wednesday." Senator Marco Rubio, co-chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, said : "Attempts by the Chinese government to guide, buy, or coerce political influence and control discussion of ‘sensitive' topics are pervasive, and pose serious challenges in the United States and our like-minded allies." Rubio identified one party organ known as the United Front Work Department that is a key agency engaged in influence operations in China and abroad, adding that the party bolstered the department in 2014, calling it China's "magic weapon" charged with promoting a positive view of China abroad and exporting its authoritarian model. • Three specialists on Chinese information operations testified at the Commission hearing that China is buying influence around the world using its extensive financial resources, while silencing critics of the Communist Party of China and its dictatorial system. The experts also said there were no signs Beijing sought to influence the 2016 presidential election. • But, there was testimony that China, however, did seek to buy a New York City building last year owned by the family of President Trump's son-in-law and key advisor Jared Kushner. The proposed deal would have netted the Kushner family some $400 million from China's Anbang insurance company for the purchase of an office tower at 666 Fifth Ave. The deal fell through but was widely viewed as a bid by China to buy influence with a relative of Trump. • Shanthi Kalathil, of the National Endowment for Democracy, testified that China is cracking down internally on internet freedom and free speech through a security technology that has created a "walled garden." Authorities in China are now capable of using facial recognition technology to find and arrest people for social media or other online statements considered critical of the Communist Party or the government. The censorship and repression rely on what is called the Great Firewall of internet controls. One Chinese man was recently arrested after making a wisecrack on a private online chat that was monitored by police. Now China under supreme leader Xi Jinping has begun exporting the anti-democratic system, says Kalathil : "It is becoming evident that the CCP under Xi Jinping is intent on encompassing the rest of the world within its walled garden." • Another expert, Glenn Tiffert, testified that Chinese influence activities include the use of government-controlled Confucius Institutes on American college campuses to control and influence debates on China. Chinese information operations involve what Tiffert called "a potent mixture of carrots and sticks." Tiffert, a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, said China under Xi Jinping has stepped up exporting its Leninist, one-party state that controls society through controlling resources and information and aggressively suppressing dissent. Tiffert said : "For some time, China has been working diligently to revise existing international institutions, and to create new ones of its own design in order to facilitate that vision and to exercise influence commensurate with its new ambitions." Tiffert said China views domestic and international public opinion as a battleground on which political struggle must be waged and won : "Since its origins as a hunted, underground revolutionary organization almost a century ago, the [Chinese Communist Party] has repeatedly proven adept at the art of turning unfavorable circumstances to its advantage by strategically coopting influential partners, nurturing relationships of dependency, and isolating and neutralizing potential opposition." • The Commission heard testimony that China "plays a long game," like the former Soviet bloc states did, and "coordinates its influence operations across a variety of fronts, many of them seemingly innocent and on the surface unconnected to national strategy." Chinese agents were recently uncovered attempting to penetrate the governments of Australia and New Zealand, prompting both countries to consider new laws designed to blunt the influence activities. China also has been active in influencing the government of Canada through business with Chinese state-linked companies. Tiffert said the disclosures in the South Pacific "must serve as a wake up call for the United States" -- China has used its ties to American business and former official for its influence operations, such as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and other former officials who have been paid millions of dollars in consulting fees from Beijing. Tiffert added : "Lenin once said that ‘capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them,' and the Chinese Communist Party has taken this lesson to heart." • China also is targeting media and universities for influence activities, according to Comission testimony. On campuses, China has sought to foster positive views on China through 110 Beijing-funded Confucius Institutes in the United States. The institutes are under control of a government organ called Hanban that is using the academic centers to promote Chinese policies and ideology. Tiffert testified that : "China also is using some of the estimated 350,000 Chinese students studying in the United States to influence universities to accept Chinese policies and positions. American scholars of Chinese affairs also have been pressured by China into self-censorship by denying them visas to travel to China, or threatening to deny visas. China also has pressured foreign publishers into censoring journal articles at the request of Beijing censors. According to Tiffert : "The long-arm of the Chinese state surveils foreign academics from afar. We are routinely targeted by malware, phishing schemes, and fake social media profiles designed to compromise our information security, and our Chinese informants." • The threat from China, says Kalathil is : "that Beijing's technology ambitions, combined with its attempts to determine on a global scale the parameters of ‘acceptable' speech and opinion with respect to China, pose clear threats to freedom of expression and democratic discourse outside its borders." China is building key elements of internet and telecommunications infrastructure in many part of the world that is raising concerns about covert Chinese information controls. China also has sought influence by mergers with US companies. Chinese government-linked tech companies recently announced deals with the digital US music company Spotify, and China's internet company Tencent bought a stake in Snap, which owns Snapchat. For Kalathil : "The Chinese government’s use of technology, coercion, pressure, and the promise of market access is unprecedented and poses clear challenges to the freedoms of democratic societies." The Government Accountability Office has been asked to investigate China's use of Confucius Institutes, and he criticized Apple's recent decision to eliminate apps in its products in China that facilitate penetrating the Great Firewall. Smith also criticized China for what he termed "egregious" information attacks against dissident Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui : "High-ranking Chinese security ministry officials, in the US on transit visas no less, met with Mr. Guo multiple times in order to threaten and convince him to leave the US," Smith said, adding that Chinese agents repeatedly violated US sovereignty and law in pursuing dissidents. • Sophie Richardson, China director at the group Human Rights Watch, said China has used its influence at the United Nations to block non-governmental organizations it regards as anti-China from gaining UN accreditation, sometimes using harassment and intimidation. China also has sought to block UN resolutions on human rights and civil society initiatives. • The Washington Free Beacon is almost alone in publishing this Commission testimony. Are Deep State CIA officials tracking China's infiltration -- and more important, because we know that President Obama was very soft on taking any kind of action against China, is the CIA briefing President Trump about it. • • • IRAN EXPORTS MISSILES AND TERRORISM AND BUYS BOEING AIRCRAFT. The Washington Free Beacon's Adam Kredo reported on Wednesday that : "Executives from major airplane manufacturers Boeing and AirBus will reportedly head to Iran next week to hammer down multi-billion dollar deals to sell the Islamic Republic a new fleet of commercial planes amid a congressional crackdown on Teheran's continued use of commercial aircraft to transport weapons and terrorist fighters across the region. As controversy continues to swirl around Boeing's and AirBus's efforts to sell Iran a fleet of new jets, Congress has taken steps to mandate the US government release public reports outlining Teheran's continued use of commercial aircraft for illicit terrorism purposes. The multi-billion dollar deals with Iran have been opposed by many in Congress who have disclosed evidence that the Islamic Republic routinely uses commercial aircraft as cover when illicitly transporting weapons and fighters across the Middle East." • The Washington Free Beacon first reported in October that the Trump administration has been reviewing the sales with an increasingly critical eye, and could decline to grant Boeing the necessary licenses to complete the deal. Boeing executives, says the Free Beacon, were in Teheran in May "to meet with a top former Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) member who threatened to blow up US forces in the Persian Gulf region. That official, Hossein Alaei, is now the CEO of Aseman Airlines, one of the state-controlled airlines Boeing is seeking to ink a deal with. Executives from both Boeing and AirBus will reportedly travel to Iran again next week to discuss how Teheran will finance the purchase of a new commercial fleet, which could number at least 180 planes combined. Massoumeh Asgharzadeh, the head of Iran Air Public Relations Office, reportedly stated that Iran intends finance the new deal domestically...'but we also have the option to finance the purchases through Airbus and Boeing themselves,' the official was quoted as saying in Iran's press." • Congress is saying, not so fast. Congress recently passed the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, a huge yearly funding bill for America's defense priorities, and in it is a requirement that the US government begin providing Congress with an annual report on Iran's use of commercial aircraft for illicit purposes. The effort, lawmakers told the Free Beacon, is meant to highlight the danger of deals being pursued by Boeing and AirBus. Senatro David Purdue, who pushed through the measure, told the Free Beacon : "Iran Air has been using their sanctions relief money from Obama's nuclear deal to fly weapons, material, and fighters directly into Syria. We need a closer look into how Iran is propping up the murderous Assad regime. As President Trump determines how it will proceed with regard to these commercial aircraft sales, a new reporting requirement included in the defense bill he signed into law today will help give us a better look at Iran's nefarious behavior." Representative Peter Roskam, the Illinois Republican who spearheaded the reporting requirement in the House, told the Free Beacon that Boeing and AirBus executives should not be holding meetings with Iran's hardline regime : "The reports of Boeing and Airbus executives traveling to Teheran to sell aircraft to the Iranian regime’s airliner are outrageous. In the past month, IRGC-backed forces have threatened to attack US forces in Iraq and Iran’s military leadership has threatened Europe with ballistic missiles. No American company should be doing business with this regime, let alone be selling militarily-fungible jets to the terror-supporting transport-arm of the IRGC." • The State Department would not directly comment on potential licenses, but did tell the Free Beacon : "We do not comment on individual OFAC [Office of Foreign Assets Control] specific licenses, but the administration's position is clear: We will not issue export licenses unless we are convinced the aircraft will be used exclusively for civilian passenger aviation. We condemn Iran's role in facilitating the abuses of the Syrian regime against its own people and we are very concerned with any reports that Iran may be using its commercial passenger airlines for anything other than exclusively civilian passenger aviation. Should the United States determine that licensed aircraft, goods, or services have been used for purposes other than exclusively commercial passenger aviation end-use, or have transferred to sanctioned persons, we reserved the right under the JCPOA to cease issuing -- or to revoke – aircraft licenses. We have made this point clear to Iran and other JCPOA participants." • That all sounds very good, but how does the US expect to take back commercial aircraft being used by Iran for military purposes. It can't. And these Boeing commercial planes will be argued by Iran to fall outside the scope of the nuclear deal, just as Iran is now arguing about ballistic missiles. • The Guardian reported on Thursday that "Iran may have passed ballistic missiles to Yemen Houthi rebels," quoting UN Secretary-general Antonio Guterres, who warns that Iran may be defying the UN, but says the nuclear deal remains ‘best way’ forward." Guterres said in a report to the Security Council that the UN is investigating Iran’s possible transfer of ballistic missiles to Houthi Shia rebels in Yemen that may have been used in launches aimed at Saudi Arabia in July and November. The report on mplementation of a UN resolution that endorsed the July 2015 nuclear agreement was obtained on Wednesday by the Associated Press. • Guterres said President Donald Trump’s decision in October not to certify the agreement under US law created “considerable uncertainty” about its future. But he added : “I am reassured that the United States has expressed its commitment to stay in the joint comprehensive plan of action for now.” President Trump has left open the possibility of pulling out of the nuclear deal. Guterres welcomed support for the treaty from its other parties, who include China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany, the European Union and others : “I encourage the United States to maintain its commitments to the plan and to consider the broader implications for the region before taking any further steps. Similarly, I encourage the Islamic Republic of Iran to carefully consider the concerns raised by other participants in the plan.” • The big concern about Iranian ballistic missiles is that they may be configured to carry nuclear weapons. Guterres said the UN is studying debris from missiles fired at Yanbu in Saudi Arabia on 22 July and at the capital of Riyadh on 4 November. He said France, Germany, Britain and the United States had sent a letter saying the Simorgh space launch vehicle that Iran launched on 27 July, if configured as a ballistic missile, is “inherently capable of delivering nuclear weapons.” But, Guterres said Russia, an ally of Iran, sent a letter in August stating that the Security Council resolution contains only a “call” for Iran to forgo missile work -- not a prohibition. Guterres said Iran claims the launch vehicle was “part of a scientific and technological activity related to the use of space technology” that it is determined to pursue, adding that the Security Council discussed the launch in September, and “there was no consensus among council members” on how it related to the 2015 resolution. Guterres also said that Israel had protested that Iran’s test of a Qiam ballistic missile in November 2016 “used a Star of David as the intended target” and cited other ballistic missiles it reportedly launched at targets in Syria in June. France, Germany, Britain and the US also raised the question of these tests, as well as the test of a medium-range missile on 4 July. Secretary General Guterres said Iran had called Israel’s claim of a marked target “a sheer falsehood.” Iran also said its “military capabilities, including ballistic missiles, have not been designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons and thus are outside the purview of the security council resolution." • NBC News reported on Tuesday that US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley would display missile and other evidence that Iran is supplying missiles to Houthi rebels in Yemen, threatening a key US ally in the region. US officials told NBC that Haley is set to unveil components of a short-range ballistic missile that Houthi rebels fired into Saudi Arabia at the US Defense Intelligence Agency headquarters at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington DC. A senior intelligence official said she will also present other evidence of Iran's weapons proliferation and potential violations of UN sanctions, and of Iranian destabilization and threats to US allies. The display was unveiled on Thrusday. • The ballistic missile was fired from Yemen on November 4, striking near Riyadh's International Airport in Saudi's capital city. Saudi defense forces say they shot it down with a surface-to-air Patriot missile and turned it into shrapnel. Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir said : "We hold Iran responsible for this. They're the ones that provided the missiles....We believe this could be considered an act of war." An Iranian official said that Saudi claims of Iranian responsibility for the missile were "malicious, irresponsible, destructive and provocative." Arab media outlets have displayed a photo that they described as an image of remnants of the missile. The Saudi mission to the UN told NBC News that the Saudi government did not provide the image to the media. • The Guardian had already published on December 3 an Associated Press report that said : "The CIA director said on Saturday he sent a letter to a top Iranian military official warning him that the US would hold Teheran accountable for any attacks it conducted on US interests in Iraq. Mike Pompeo, who has voiced staunch opposition to Iran, said he sent the letter to General Qassem Soleimani, a leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and elite Quds Force, but the General did not read it. Pompeo said : “I sent a note. I sent it because he had indicated that forces under his control might in fact threaten US interests in Iraq. He refused to open the letter...What we were communicating to him in that letter was that we will hold he and Iran accountable...and we wanted to make sure that he and the leadership of Iran understood that in a way that was crystal clear.” The Pompeo warning is interesting because of the concerns expressed by analysts about the de facto takeover of Iraq by Iran. Pompeo said Iran was working to strengthen its influence throughout the Middle East. As a Republican congressman, he was highly critical of the Iran nuclear deal which then-President Obama and other nations negotiated with Teheran to lift sanctions in exchange for reductions in its nuclear program. Pompeo has said Iran is currently in compliance with that agreement. In Iran, Mohammad Mohammadi Golpaygani, chief of staff for the country’s supreme leader, said Soleimani ignored the letter : “Recently, when...the CIA chief through one of his contacts in the region sent a letter to General Soleimani, he responded by saying, ‘I did not either receive or read the letter. I have nothing to tell these people.' " • • • NIKKI HALEY'S IRANIAN MISSILE DISPLAY. On Thursday, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley unveiled what she had told reporters the US possessed -- new evidence of Iranian arms deliveries to the Houthi rebels in Yemen. At a military hangar at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, in Washington DC, Haley and Pentagon officials exhibited missile fragments and photography showing a range of Iran-produced weapons systems discovered in Yemen. The Washington Institute's Michael Knights described in an rtticle published on Friday the displayed missile parts and Haley's presentation : "Alongside Qasef-1 drones and Toophan antitank guided missiles used by the Houthis -- both of which precisely match Iran-produced systems -- the briefing focused on two advanced weapons : the Qiam-1 short-range ballistic missile and the "Shark-33" self-guiding explosive drone boat. At the center of Haley's presentation were segments of two Iran-produced Qiam-1 missiles that were fired at Saudi Arabia -- one toward Yanbu on July 22 and another toward Riyadh on November 4. These were specially modified Qiam-1 variants with a reduced-size warhead and maximized use of aluminum to gain extra range. Called Burkan-2H by the Houthis, the Qiam-1 missiles are significant because they represent a leap forward in the capabilities fielded by the Houthi rebels, allowing strikes at ranges of more than 1,000 kilometers, thereby placing all Saudi Arabia and almost all the Gulf states within striking distance. The new capability was touted by Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, who claimed on September 14 that the United Arab Emirates was "now within range of our missiles." • Knights says that as early as November 7, "Saudi Arabia provided Haley with compelling evidence to present regarding Iran's provision of Qiam-1 systems. Indeed, identifying markings on the missiles that landed in Saudi Arabia precisely match those on Qiam-1 systems broadcast by Iran's Fars News Agency, while displaying a tail section with jet vane nozzles rather than tail fins. The Qiam-1, which is only manufactured and operated by Iran, is unique among missile of its class in not having fins. Yemen's own stocks of Russian SS-1C/North Korean Hwasong-5 (Scud B) and extended-range Russian SS-1D/North Korean Hwasong-6 (Scud C) missiles all have tail fins, indicating that the missiles striking Yanbu and Riyadh were imported Iran-manufactured missiles, not converted Yemeni systems." Knights added that : "Missile components included a number of 'smoking gun' connections to Iran's industries. One missile actuator -- which controls positioning -- was stamped with the logo of the Shahid Bakeri Industrial Group (SBIG), an Iranian defense company targeted by UN, EU, and US. sanctions. A circuit board found within the inertial measurement unit of a wrecked missile was stamped as a product of Iran's Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group (SHIG), another UN-, EU-, and US-sanctioned entity. US Department of Defense spokeswoman Laura Seal noted : 'The point of this entire display is that only Iran makes this missile. They have not given it to anybody else. We haven't seen this in the hands of anyone else except Iran and the Houthis.' " • In addition to Haley's display, Knights described evidence provided by the Saudi-led coalition, of Iranian putting in the hands of the Houthis "the self-guiding Shark-33 explosive drone boat, which can be programmed to follow a course or home in on a target using electro-optical television guidance. The Saudi Arabian government claims that such a device was used to strike a Saudi frigate on January 30, 2017, wounding at least five personnel. Although this type of drone boat had been known to exist since February 2017 and was documented by the UK-based Conflict Armament Research company in early December 2017, the US government publicized new details on December 14." Knights called it "previously withheld data from the March 29, 2016, boarding of the Iranian dhow Adris by the USS Sirocco -- a patrol ship operating in the waters between Iran and Yemen." The drone boat "shows six fuse plates identical to the one on the Shark-33. (A fuse plate holds firing switches and wiring in place). The US government claims to have paperwork showing that the fuse plates were provided by Shahid Julaie Marine Industries (JMI), Teheran, Iran's main builder of drone boats. (The Adris also carried scores of Iran-made RPG-7-pattern rocket launchers and AK-series rifles)." Further, explains Knights, the Shark-33 housed a circuit board and software linked to FHM Electronics, an Iranian manufacturer. More damningly, the computer hard drive inside the Shark-33 held over ninety sets of coordinates for locations in Iran, Yemen, and the Red Sea. One of two Teheran locations corresponds to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Self-Sufficiency Jihad Organization, which is sanctioned by the United States. Camera images on the onboard computer showed a facility with an IRGC hat atop a work surface." • The dsiplayed evidence shows that Iran is in violation of separate UN Security Council resolutions -- 2216 (April 2015) and 2266 (February 2016) -- that call on member states to "take the necessary measures" to prevent arms transfers to the Houthis and their local allies. And, the UN resolution endorsing the US-led nuclear deal with Iran, UNSCR 2231 (July 2015), states: "Take the necessary measures to prevent, except as decided otherwise by the UN Security Council in advance on a case-by-case basis, the supply, sale, or transfer of arms or related materiel from Iran by their nationals or using their flag vessels or aircraft, and whether or not originating in the territory of Iran." The evidence provided by Haley on the Qiam-1 missile compellingly shows that Iran has delivered at least two 16-meter-long, 13,569-pound Iranian missiles have been exported to Yemen. (The Houthis claim to have fired four such missiles). • Many nations do not want to believe that Iran is porviding missiles and drones to the Houthis -- their business dealings could suffer. But, states Knights, a November 24 report from the UN Panel of Experts on Yemen concluded that four missiles fired into Saudi Arabia in 2017 were manufactured by Iran, but that there was "no evidence as to the identity of the broker or supplier." The Washington Institute concludes that the United States and its allies "need to ensure that such evidence is always provided to the UN when it is available and would not compromise sources or methods of intelligence collection. Following Haley's presentation on December 14, Sweden's UN ambassador, Olof Skoog, reflecting international skepticism, said that the United States 'may be in possession of evidence I have not seen. The information I have up to now is less clear.' " • This attitude is partly a reflection of European socialist politics. but, it is also the result of Europe feeling that it was duped into going to war in Iraq by President GW Bush and Prime Minnister Tony Blair. Michael Knights sees a way forward to gaining support of the UN in the matter of Iranian exportign of missiles and drones to the Yemeni Houthis -- transparency. Knights concludes : "One lesson for the United States and its allies should be that transparency must be maximized and the presentation of intelligence more comprehensively and clearly storyboarded, with extra effort taken to place extraneous information in context, rather than excluding it. Saudi openness in providing the UN panel of experts with direct access to Qiam-1 wreckage was a smart decision. Further, the US release of intelligence gleaned from the Adris is a great step, allowing a new link to be established between an Iranian dhow carrying weapons and the fuse boards used in the Shark-33 drone boat. But whereas UN experts were able to directly view the Qiam-1 wreckage, they had no opportunity to see the Shark-33 vessel and examine its vital hard drive, or view the fuse boards with the Adris. Thus, the UN will not consider this important evidence in its assessment of Iran's compliance with UNSCR 2231 next week." The US mission to the United Nations said its ambassador, Nikki Haley has findings denoting Iran’s “destailising activities in the Middle East region and elsewhere in the world” -- more sharing as early as possible could be important for UN support. • Meanwhile, France is taking on Iran in another part of the Middle East -- more sharing as early as possible could be i,portant for UN support. Reuters reported on Tuesday that : "France’s foreign minister criticized Iran’s regional ambitions, saying Paris could not accept Teheran’s military expansion to the Mediterranean, and accused Russia of failing to use its influence to push UN-led Syrian peace talks and curb violence." Reuters said Le Drian was speaking in an interview with France 2 television -- broadcast later on Tuesday -- as part of a documentary on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Le Drian said it was time for Moscow and Teheran to work with the UN Security Council to end the six-year-old conflict in Syria : "The Iranian presence and the desire to make an axis from the Mediterranean to Teheran, (I say) no!” There is a Syria that needs to exist.” • Reuters wrote that : "Many Arab leaders argue that by fighting Islamic State and supporting Assad militarily, Iran is projecting its power across Iraq and Syria to Lebanon, creating an arc of regional influence stretching from the Afghan border to the Mediterranean. Tensions between Iran and France have increased in recent weeks after French President Emmanuel Macron said that Teheran should be less aggressive in the region and clarify its ballistic missile program. Le Drian also denounced Teheran’s 'hegemonic temptations' during a visit to Saudi Arabia last month." • Under President Macron, France has sought not take sides in the Middle East and attempted to improve ties with Russia after the previous French administration’s relationship with Moscow suffered especially over Syria, where Russia and Iran are staunch allies of al-Assad. Le Drain said : "In Syria, Iran brings its militias, supports Hezbollah. Syria must become a sovereign state again and that means (a country) independent of the pressure and presence of other countries.” • But, with al-Assad by his side, Russian President Vladimir Putin flew into Syria on Monday and ordered “a significant part” of Moscow’s military contingent there to start withdrawing. Le Drian noted : “If you can summon Assad to Sochi, you can also tell him to stop (bombing) and allow aid to everyone." • France does not say that al-Assad’s departure from power should not be a pre-condition for negotiations. But, Le Drian made it clear that Russia is not doing enough : “The main actors in this affair are Russia and Iran. They need to use their weight to lead a political solution with the other members of the Security Council. He [al-Assad] is barbaric, but he is there, so we have to a start the process that leads to a (new) constitution and elections under the UN. I struggle to imagine that populations who have suffered so much consider him part of the solution.” • • • DEAR READERS, the evidence is much easier to find when Iran is the subject because Iran and its Quds Force are in scattered theatres of operation as it spreads its terrorist world view through not only the Houthis but also Hezbollah and the Quds. Russia facilitates the Iranian terrorist agenda by protecting it in the UN Security Council and on the ground in Syria. • The problem is much more subtle concerning China, which is a permanent member of the UNSC, and is seen as a vital partner in the US-led effort to shut down the North Korean nuclear weapons and ICBM programs. But, allowing the unchecked spread of Chinese Communist propaganda through educational and commercial activities cannot be permitted to continue. The real problem, vis-à-vis China is that for decades the West has turned a blind eye to Chinese aggression all over the planet. While we are asking China ot help defuse hte NK situatioon, we are largely silent about China's continuing build-up in the South China Sea, which has been going on unabated while the world focuses on China-the-Good as help for North Korea's rogue recklessness. Both China and Iran should have the individed attention of the UN, the EU and the US. Cracking down on nuclear-adaptable missile proliferation, electronic cybertheft and hacking, and other unacceptable activities may soon be too late. As with all vital interests, the time to act is now.


  1. War and the rumors of impending war are all around us today.

    It is not trends but choices that matter most at the key moments of history. These days we tend to think of history as a story of great sweeping trends and evolutions. We imagine that forces gather and play themselves out over time, and that we humans are merely the pawns with which they play. This is one reason so many are often quick to believe that the United States is in an eclipse, that new emerging powers, younger, more numerous, and located on the Eurasian center of world population, will overcome us.

    Churchill once wrote: “The distinction between politics and strategy diminishes as the point of view is raised. At the summit true politics and strategy are one.” He also said that: "that absolute stands are justified only when they are absolutely necessary."

    In recent days there has been a struggle between President Trump and a retiring civil service appointee over who gets to appoint the latter’s successor to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This agency is exempted from the control of its budget by Congress. In other words, it operates outside the control of anyone popularly elected. If the key to the preservation of government is the proper arrangement between public and private, one can see that the basis of government is may eroding.

    In war and peace there is a need for strategy and for freedom. They are related. They both required an utter commitment to freedom. They both required recognition of the limits of politics and the limits of war. They both required the protection of the right of the people to control their government.

    China and Iran is in need of a very absolute strategy.

  2. In defense of our freedoms the United States and all others that wish to travel with us need to develop a strategy of being very pro-active in dealing with countries that export communism and radicle Islam.

  3. Some years ago the noted geo-strategist Walter Russell Mead identified four schools of U.S. foreign policy; the pro-business Hamiltonians, the liberal-order Wilsonians, the realist Jeffersonians, and the mercurial, exceptionalist Jacksonians.

    The election of President Donald Trump signaled the return of the Jacksonian impulse for the first time in a generation, and China should take heed. With regard to Donald Trump’s election, Mead said, “Jacksonian America felt itself to be under siege, with its values under attack and its future under threat. Trump — flawed as many Jacksonians themselves believed him to be — seemed the only candidate willing to help fight for its survival.”

    By and large, Jacksonians are not interested in externalities. They are not much interested in government, for that matter, largely preferring to be left alone, but when threatened, they react with hair-trigger responses.

    And when it comes to war Mead states that “when an enemy attacks, Jacksonians spring to the country’s defense” viscerally, and Jacksonians, like their namesake Andrew Jackson, will not stop until honor is satisfied. It is a dangerous impulse to stimulate, as China’s Li Kexin has done.

    At a Chinese embassy event in Washington on Friday, diplomat Li Kexin said he had told U.S. officials that China would activate its Anti-Secession Law, which allows it to use force on Taiwan if deemed necessary to prevent the island from seceding, if the United States sent navy ships to Taiwan.

    “The day that a U.S. Navy vessel arrives in Kaohsiung is the day that our People’s Liberation Army unifies Taiwan with military force,” Chinese media at the weekend quoted Li as saying, referring to Taiwan’s main port.

    China owes the United States a public apology. It now needs to accept a U.S. Navy port visit to Taiwan with a minimum of protests, and it needs to understand that it faces someone who is willing to climb the ladder of escalation in the person of President Donald Trump and his policy of strategic ambiguity. Lastly, China needs to call its diplomat home or face the humiliation of his being declared persona non grata.