Most Americans are worried about our domestic crises. Obama left office after doubling the debt to $20 trillion. Near-zero interest rates over eight years have impoverished an entire generation of seniors — and yet remain key to servicing the costs of such reckless borrowing.
Over the last eight years, GDP never grew at 3 percent annually, the first time we’ve seen such low growth since the Hoover administration. Obamacare spiked health-care premiums and deductibles while restricting access and reducing patient choices. Racial politics are at a nadir and make one nostalgic for the environment before 2009.
Red-blue tensions are at an all-time high, and suddenly there is talk of 1860s-like Confederate nullification of federal laws. It’s now the norm for prominent commentators to call for the murder, forced removal, or resignation of the current president. A New York Times columnist asked the IRS to commit a felony by sending him Trump’s tax returns, and then he boasts by providing his own address. Continue reading
by Jeremy Lott • The Federalist
The foreign policy consensus in Washington DC is so stubbornly pro-intervention that our most recent president—who dragged the country into several foreign entanglements and whose military dropped 26,171 bombs last year alone—is seen as, at best, a ditherer. The World Politics Review summed up his legacy by saying, “The problem with Obama’s foreign policy has been inaction, not weakness.”
Get outside of DC and the estimation of what we ought to be doing is much different. Americans who are actually stretched to pay for those wars and whose children may be serving in the military are not as gung-ho about going there.
That is my takeaway from the latest Charles Koch Institute/Center for the National Interest poll of American attitudes toward foreign policy. A majority of those surveyed in late January turned out to be deeply skeptical that what America has been doing has been working. It’s hard to argue they don’t have a point. Continue reading
by Morgan Chalfant • Washington Free Beacon
The government of Afghanistan lost almost 15 percent of its territory last year, as Taliban insurgents continued to launch attacks amid declines in U.S. and allied military personnel.
The figure is included in a government watchdog’s latest assessment of the security situation and reconstruction effort in Afghanistan. The assessment comes as the Donald Trump administration grapples with how to move forward in what has become America’s longest war.
“Analysis of the most recent data provided by U.S. Forces in Afghanistan (USFOR-A) suggests that the security situation in Afghanistan has not improved this quarter,” states the latest quarterly report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR. “The numbers of the Afghan security forces are decreasing, while both casualties and the number of districts under insurgent control or influence are increasing.” Continue reading
by Dimitri K. Simes and Paul J. Saunders • National Interest
One need not admire Benjamin Netanyahu or Vladimir Putin or, for that matter, approve of Israeli or Russian conduct, to see Barack Obama’s recent efforts to punish the two states for what they really are. Indeed, Mr. Obama’s efforts seem directed more at his successor than at any serious U.S. foreign policy objective. The outgoing president’s efforts to tie President-Elect Donald Trump’s hands in both domestic and foreign policy appear particularly un-presidential after his petulant complaints that America should have only one president at a time—a rule he apparently sees as applying in only one direction as he defiantly disregards the deference typically shown to an incoming commander-in-chief.
On Israel, Mr. Obama had to know that America’s abstention in voting on a United Nations Security Council Resolution critical of Israel would neither change Israeli settlement policy nor undermine Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political standing in his country. Continue reading
by Jed Babbin • The American Spectator
Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps boats harassed U.S. Navy ships and boats again last week in what has become a commonplace in the Persian Gulf. All of these incidents have happened in international waters. The Iranians claim much of those waters as their own.
In January, the Iranians fired missiles within about fifteen hundred yards of the nuclear carrier USS Harry S. Truman. In that same month, the crews of two U.S. Navy patrol boats were captured and detained by the Iranians, the U.S. crews having failed to fire a shot in their own defense. They were released after the Iranians had made propaganda videos shaming our sailors.
In the latter incident, the commander of the surrendered boats later said he surrendered because he didn’t want to endanger Obama’s efforts to lock in his nuclear weapons deal with Iran. Continue reading
Two days before the anniversary of the nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers, the Islamic Republic attempted to launch a new type of ballistic missile using North Korean technology, multiple intelligence officials tell Fox News.
The test, in violation of a UN resolution, failed shortly after liftoff when the missile exploded, sources said. The effort occurred on the evening of July 11-12 near the Iranian city of Saman, an hour west of Isfahan, where Iran has conducted similar ballistic missile tests in the past.
It would be at least the fourth time Iran has launched or attempted to launch a ballistic missile since the nuclear accord was signed on July 14, 2015.
Iran is barred from conducting ballistic missile tests for eight years under UN Resolution 2231, which went effect July 20, 2015, days after the nuclear accord was signed.
Iran is “called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology,” according to the text of the resolution.
The landmark nuclear deal between Iran and world powers does not include provisions preventing Iran from conducting ballistic missile tests.
Iran claims its ballistic missile tests are legitimate because they are not designed to carry a nuclear warhead.
The most recent test was the first time Iran attempted to launch a version of the North Korean BM-25 Musudan ballistic missile, which has a maximum range of nearly 2,500 miles, putting U.S. forces in the Middle East and Israel within reach.
The extent of North Korea’s involvement in the failed launch is not immediately clear, apart from North Korea sharing their technology, according to officials.
North Korea has had its own difficulties launching the Musudan missile of late.
Since April, North Korea has failed five consecutive times in launching one. But late last month, North Korea succeeded in putting into space a Musudan, which later splashed down 250 miles from North Korea into the Sea of Japan.
The U.S. military recently announced, over Chinese objections, that it would deploy an advanced anti-ballistic missile system known as THAAD into South Korea as a result of the gains in North Korean missile technology.
There was no immediate reaction from U.S. Central Command when asked for comment about the failed Iranian missile launch.
In an interview with Fox News in Baghdad Thursday, the head of Central Command, responsible for military operations in the Middle East, said Iran continues to cause trouble in the region.
“Iran’s behavior hasn’t significantly changed as a result of the nuclear agreement,” said Gen. Joseph Votel. “They continue to pursue malign activities, and they continue to foment instability in areas where we need stability so I remain concerned about that continued behavior.”
Reuters reported last week that a confidential report by UN chief Ban Ki-moon called Iran’s ballistic missile program “not consistent with the constructive spirit” of the nuclear deal, but left it up to the UN Security Council to decide if Iran is in violation of UN resolution 2231. Russia and China are permanent members of the five-nation UN Security Council, and both have expressed reservations in the past about punishing Iran about its missile tests.
The Security Council is due to discuss the UN chief’s report on July 18.
Russia shipped components of an advanced third-generation air defense system to Iran earlier this year, drawing outrage from lawmakers on Capitol Hill. While the State Department is “opposed” to the deal, it does not violate either the nuclear agreement nor UN resolution 2231, according to a spokesperson.
In March, Iran sparked international condemnation when it test-fired two ballistic missiles, one emblazoned with the phrase “Israel must be wiped out” in Hebrew.
Iran conducted separate ballistic missile tests in October and November.
In March, appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Votel was asked about Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities. He testified that Iran “may in fact be more aggressive in the days since the [nuclear] agreement.”
Votel told lawmakers the United States should continue to “expose” Iran for the role they play in the region, including its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, responsible for dropping barrel bombs on his own people, according to Votel.
He told Fox News aboard USS New Orleans, a 684-foot warship loaded with 650 Marines transiting the Strait of Hormuz this week that Iran should be “held accountable” for capturing 10 US Navy sailors in January at gunpoint and holding them for a day.
An Iranian missile boat and four other armed small boats shadowed New Orleans just miles from Iranian shores as she made her way though the strait, coming within 500 yards of the U.S. Navy warship. Such action by Iran has become routine, according to Navy officials.
Since December, Iran has shipped out its low-enriched uranium, disabled its heavy water reactor in Arak, and sold more than $8 million worth of heavy water to the U.S. government in compliance with the nuclear deal.
In January, the UN’s nuclear watchdog declared that Iran had met its provisions in the nuclear deal, which ended many Western economic sanctions unlocking billions of dollars in sanctions relief.
In recent days, Iranian officials have voiced plans to conduct more tests.
“Iran will strongly continue its missile program based on its own defense and national security calculations,” foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said on the ministry’s website.
Claims Obama admin misled Congress about purchase of Iranian nuclear material
by Adam Kredo • Washington Free Beacon
Congress is seeking legal remedies to block further concessions by the Obama administration to Iran, according to a leading member of the House Intelligence Committee, who told the Free Beacon that the administration has been systemically misleading Congress about the nature and scope of its giveaways to Iran.
Obama administration officials confirmed overnight that an $8.6 million deal to purchase nuclear material from Iran was functionally finalized in late April. The administration had in recent months refused to answer questions about the payment from lawmakers and journalists, claiming that the deal had not yet been finalized.
The revelation triggered condemnation from leading members of Congress as well as top nuclear experts, who linked the administration’s contradictory statements to efforts by U.S. officials to quietly promote Iran as a legitimate nuclear industry player and economic power. Continue reading
In Bertolt Brecht’s drama, The Good Person Of Sechwan, the Gods are looking for a kindhearted individual. Their search almost ends in failure. Finally, they meet the prostitute, Shen Te. Judging her to be kind and magnanimous, they give her a large sum of money. Shen Te decides to open a tobacco shop. The news about her good fortune spreads like wildfire throughout the town. In no time, people invade her shop and pillage it. In order to avoid going bankrupt and for the sake of remaining a good person, Shen Te invents an uncle, Shui Ta, who possesses the toughness of a seasoned businessman. Shui Ta stops the bleeding by employing capitalist methods and principles. Naturally, the townspeople miss Shen Te. They accuse Shui Ta of murdering her. In court, Shen Te proves that she and Shui Ta are the same person. The moral of the story is that whoever wants to do good in a bad world must be ready to get tough. Continue reading
Obama administration repeats concern that Iran already violating nuke deal
by Adam Kredo • Washington Free Beacon
The Obama administration shifted its stance on Iran’s contested nuclear program Wednesday, writing in a letter to the United Nations that it is concerned the international community’s nuclear watchdog organization is not fully reporting on potential Iranian violations of the nuclear deal.
The administration also renewed concerns about Iran having violated its international commitments by stockpiling too much nuclear-related material. The renewed concerns come after Iran repeatedly test fired ballistic missiles in violation of current U.N. resolutions.
Yukiya Amano, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, said earlier this week that the agency is prohibited by the nuclear agreement from publicly reporting on potential violations by Iran. Continue reading
by Victor Davis Hanson • PJ Media
His hard-left politics have insidiously eroded the Democratic Party, which has lost both houses of Congress and the vast majority of the state legislatures, state elected offices, and governorships. Obama has redefined the black vote, as a necessary, no-margin-of-error 95% bloc majority to offset his similar creation of an increasingly monolithic 65% bloc white vote. We are no longer individual voters, but, in Chicago-politics style, merely faceless “Latinos,” “Asians,” “African-Americans,” “gays,” “women,” and now “whites.”
Obama issues a new initiative—and the nation snoozes. He wastes the day on the golf links—and the nation snoozes. He smear his critics, invites a rapper to the White House whose latest album cover has a dead white judge lying in front of the White House—and the nation snoozes. He cozies up to America’s enemies and snubs our friends—and the nation snoozes. For the nth time, he blusters about closing down Guantanamo—and the nation snoozes. He opens the border even wider to welcome in more illegal aliens and future constituents—and the nation snoozes. Lame duckestry means not even being able to wake up your opponents. Continue reading
In every Fascist, National Socialist and Communist state in the 20th and the 21st centuries, foreign policy had been marked by a deep and dark, spellbound and cruel mystery. In the People’s Republic of China, this mystery has had more darker depths, and has taken the shape of Oriental transcendentalism mixed with the horrific notion of racial superiority.
“In reasoning,” Mao Tse-tung opined, “we shall start by delivering a shock and yelling at the patient, you are sick, so that he is scared into a sweat, and then we will tell him gently that he needs treatment.” In Mao’s formula the “treatment” consisted of applying “Brute Force” to annihilate anybody who happened to disagree with him, or found guilty by the various kangaroo courts for imaginary offenses.
Thus, the historic humiliation of Imperial China by several foreign powers had brought forth an equally historic “brute” enmity between the People’s Republic of China and the rest of the world. Its political and military manifestations are clearly apparent in the rapidly escalating regional and global hostility of Beijing toward its Asian neighbors and the United States of America. Indeed, Xi Jinping’s strategic roadmap is an audacious attempt to recreate China’s former imperial greatness. Against the backdrop of between $2.5 and $4 trillion in foreign currency reserves, the world’s largest, Beijing is set to assert its political, economic and military dominance regionally as well as globally. Continue reading
By Russ Read • The Daily Caller
The head of U.S. intelligence believes that Iran’s recent actions speak loudly to its intentions, particularly given the country’s recent provocations since the Iran nuclear deal came into effect.
Testifying to the Senate Committee on Armed Services Tuesday, director of national intelligence James Clapper gave a very somber description of what he sees as Iran’s intentions toward the U.S. now that last summer’s nuclear deal has commenced. In particular, his statements offered little assurance that Iran is acting as an honest actor with the U.S. and the other states involved in last year’s negotiations, or that the nuclear deal will stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
“Iran probably views JCPOA [Iran deal] as a means to remove sanctions while preserving nuclear capabilities, as well as the option to eventually expand its nuclear infrastructure,” said Clapper, who also noted that, so far, he sees no evidence that Iran is violating the nuclear deal. Continue reading
By Dave Clark and Nicolas Revise • Yahoo
The United States failed to manage its traditional Sunni Arab allies in the region while it reached out to mend ties with their bitter Shiite foes in Tehran.
As a result, experts warn, Washington has suffered a loss of influence at a time when it needs to implement the nuclear accord and work with both Tehran and Riyadh to end the Syrian war.
“I think the administration has had a one-eyed policy on this,” Salman Shaikh, founder and CEO of regional consultancy the Shaikh Group, told AFP. Continue reading
By Eli Lake & Josh Rogin • BloombergView
When the administration presented the agreement to Congress, lawmakers were told that new sanctions on Iran would violate the deal. Now the administration is trying to sidestep a recently passed provision to tighten rules on visas for those who have visited Iran.
Since the accord was struck last summer, the U.S. emphasis on complying with its end of the deal has publicly eclipsed its efforts to pressure Iran. In that time, Iranian authorities have detained two American dual nationals and sentenced a third on what most observers say are trumped up espionage charges. Iran’s military has conducted two missile tests, one of which the U.N. said violated sanctions, and engaged in a new offensive with Russia in Syria to shore up the country’s dictator, Bashar al-Assad. Continue reading
Obama admin promises new laws will not violate nuke deal
by Adam Kredo • Washington Free Beacon
Secretary of State John Kerry is working to reassure Iranian leaders that recent congressional efforts to tighten counter-terrorism measures will not harm Iranian interests, according to a letter sent by Kerry to Iran’s foreign minister.
The assurances come following efforts by Congress to tighten restrictions in the visa waiver program, which they claim has gaping loopholes that may enable suspected terrorists to legally enter the United States with few background checks.
Iranian leaders expressed anger over the move in recent days, prompting senior Obama administration officials to convey their own concerns to lawmakers. Continue reading