By Aaron Kliegman • Washington Free Beacon
Hopes were high in Hanoi, Vietnam, this week, as President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un smiled and shook hands, ready for their second summit. Perhaps the United States and North Korea would finally reach a deal to denuclearize the latter, paving the way for a more benign, fruitful relationship between the two countries. Alas, it was not meant to be. Trump and Kim ended their summit on Thursday after failing to agree on any steps to curb North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program. But while the talks collapsed—at least for the moment—people should not view the result as a failure. Indeed, Trump should be commended for walking away from a bad deal.
Many observers thought Trump would be so desperate for a deal that he would agree to almost any terms, succumbing to dreams of diplomatic greatness. They watched Trump call Kim his “friend” and worried the president was too trusting. Perhaps Kim felt this way, too, hence his widely one-sided proposal (more on that in a moment). Ultimately, however, Trump did not do what his critics feared.
“I am never afraid to walk from a deal,” Trump told reporters after the summit ended. “Sometimes you have to walk.”
Lifting sanctions on North Korea seemed to be the main roadblock to further negotiations. According to Trump, Kim insisted that all of the United Nations’s sanctions imposed on Pyongyang be lifted in exchange for dismantling the Yongbyon nuclear facility, the site of a reactor and plutonium-reprocessing plant and a central piece of the North’s weapons program.
“It was about the sanctions,” Trump said. “Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, but we couldn’t do that.”
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho later disputed Trump’s account of what happened, saying his country asked for the removal of 5 of the 11 sets of sanctions imposed by the U.N., not all of them.
“We proposed to the United States to lift five sanctions—which [were] adopted between 2016 and 2017 and impede the civilian economy and the livelihood of our people—among 11 U.N. sanctions resolutions all together,” Ri said, according to a translation of his remarks.
Even if Ri’s account is accurate, Trump was right to reject the proposal. That North Korea only asked for a fraction of the U.N. resolutions can be misleading; the five that North Korea put on the table comprise most of the international pressure through sanctions on Pyongyang. Trump may have not been literally accurate about all sanctions, but he was right for all intents and purposes. And in exchange, the North would only destroy one nuclear site. What about the other sites in North Korea? And what about inspecting them? Like Iran during negotiations over its nuclear program, North Korea seems to want all the benefits without any of the costs: to obtain relief from sanctions while preserving the ability to build nuclear weapons. Only this time, Trump did not grant an adversary its wish—at least for now.
One does not need an MBA from an elite university to realize that making major concessions up front in a negotiation takes away leverage for later. If Trump agreed to lift most sanctions right away in exchange for less extensive nuclear concessions, then the United States would be in a far weaker position to act against North Korea in the future if necessary. What if North Korea cheats? What leverage would the United States have? Re-imposing sanctions at the U.N. does not happen with a snap of the fingers. Considering all North Korea has done is lie to the international community about its nuclear program, Pyongyang cheating is an outcome all too likely.
The United States should not provide North Korea any sanctions relief for something it has repeatedly promised to do. More generally, the United States should not lift any sanctions until North Korea has demonstrated beyond doubt that it has taken major steps to curb its nuclear program. Any agreement that falls short of this standard is not worth the paper on which it is written.
Trump’s decision to walk away from Kim’s proposal is a net positive not only for his policy toward North Korea, but also toward Iran. Had Trump agreed to North Korea’s terms, the Islamic Republic would have seen the United States make significant concessions while still allowing North Korea to keep its nuclear arsenal. Iran would be given greater incentive to undermine American sanctions and still seek nuclear weapons, believing that, once it gets the bomb, Washington will not have the will to do anything meaningful about it.
After the Hanoi Summit, the question is what happens next. Fortunately, the United States and North Korea are still talking, so high-level negotiations may resume at a later date. Whether they do or not, Trump and his advisers should consider one hitch that few people want to acknowledge, a hitch that explains why this summit failed and why future summits will likely fail: the United States wants North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, and North Korea does not want to give them up. That basic point is the great obstacle to denuclearization. And unless it changes, do not bet on any grand diplomatic bargains.
By The Hill•
Virtually every argument against the Jones Act is falsely premised on the notion that it increases consumer prices and that it impeded emergency supplies from getting to Puerto Rico after last year’s hurricanes. Some have even argued that Puerto Rico’s decade long recession is the fault of the Jones Act — despite the fact that it was enacted almost 100 years ago. Simply stated, there is no factual evidence to support these claims.
The Jones Act, or more precisely, the “Merchant Marine Act of 1920,” simply requires goods shipped between two or more U.S. ports to be shipped on vessels that are American built, owned and crewed. But it does not prohibit foreign vessels from bringing goods to a U.S. port.
Because of the Jones Act, foreign flagged ships with unknown and unvetted foreign crews cannot deliver goods to New Orleans and then sail up the Mississippi River deep into the American heartland. Continue reading
Nation’s Secrets: Democrats and spy agency bureaucrats squealed with rage after President Trump pulled former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance. Why are they upset? Brennan clearly abused his privileged security clearance by using it for political purposes and profit.
“Mr. Brennan’s lying and recent conduct, characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary, is wholly inconsistent with access to the nation’s most closely held secrets and facilities, the very aim of our adversaries, which is to sow division and chaos,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, reading a statement.
There’s no question that Brennan lied, both to Congress and the American people, more than once and under oath.
And for someone with continued privileged access to the nation’s secrets to call the president “treasonous” merely for speaking to Vladimir Putin isn’t an exercise of freedom of speech — it verges on a threat.
By Patrick Tucker • Defense One
LAS VEGAS — The Russian military is inside hundreds of thousands of routers owned by Americans and others around the world, a top U.S. cybersecurity official said on Friday. The presence of Russian malware on the routers, first revealed in May, could enable the Kremlin to steal individuals’ data or enlist their devices in a massive attack intended to disrupt global economic activity or target institutions.
On May 27, Justice Department officials asked Americans to reboot their routers to stop the attack. Afterwards, the world largely forgot about it. That’s a mistake, said Rob Joyce, senior advisor to the director of the National Security Agency and the former White House cybersecurity coordinator.
“The Russian malware is still there,” said Joyce.
On May 8, cybersecurity company Talos observed a spike in mostly Ukrainian victims of a new malware attack. Dubbed VPN Filter, the malware used code similar to the BlackEnergy tool that Russian forces have used (in modified form) to attack Ukrainian infrastructure. The U.S. intelligence community believes the culprits are the hackers known as APT 28 or Fancy Bear, Russian military operatives who were behind information attacks against Continue reading
While Puerto Rico is still recovering from last year’s severe hurricane damage, the all too predictable push to blame the tragedy on the Jones Act appears to have passed — for now. But almost like clockwork, this false blame game will be replayed whenever opponents of the Jones Act think they can spread falsehood during times of tragedy to gain a political advantage. When that next moment comes, the tired, oft-repeated, and baseless arguments will be trotted out once again.
The Jones Act, or more precisely, the “Merchant Marine Act of 1920,” simply requires goods shipped between U.S. ports to be shipped on American vessels crewed by Americans. It does not limit foreign vessels from bringing goods to US ports. It only prevents foreign ships from carrying cargo between two or more US ports. This has a number of homeland security benefits as well as ensuring that our military has a robust merchant marine sea lift capability and ship repair industry.
Some may assume that Americans are burned out on debating the Jones Act’s merits every time there’s a hurricane or some other event that supplies the pretext to blame the nearly 100 year old law. But when I recently spoke at a public policy conference, I saw Continue reading
By Beau Rothschild • The Federalist
In the nineteenth century, Americans across the country were mesmerized by “miracle elixirs,” better known as medicine shows, which offered “cure-alls” for everything in the book. Diseases? There was a drink for that. Wrinkles? There was a magic cream for that too. These traveling shows did far more than “heal,” they entertained. Freak shows, magic tricks, and storytelling, among other fun activities, were included on the lists of offerings.
For many, these flamboyant events were awe-inspiring – that is, until the country realized these “miracle cures” were almost completely ineffective. Over time, an increasing number of Americans began referring to these big promisers as “snake oil salesmen.” By the next century, most disappeared, as did their outrageous claims.
Worrisome national security events that transpired this week have convinced some Americans that SpaceX, a rocket manufacturer and launcher for national security missions, is the magic elixir of this generation — only this time, the “magic pills” in question are not only often ineffective, they’re also affecting the country’s national security.
by Jerry Hendrix • National Review
President Trump today unveiled his new National Security Strategy (NSS), exceeding the expectations of the national-security community by producing a remarkably coherent NSS within his first twelve months in office. President Obama took 16 months to present his vision, and President George W. Bush, dealing with the disturbance of 9/11 to his strategic considerations, took 20 months. Clearly guided by the vision enunciated by the president during his 2016 campaign and validated by that national election, the team of Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster, Dina Powell, and Nadia Schadlow has crafted a “sustainment” strategy supported by a peace-through-strength defense buildup. What is very clear is that this strategy is not a break from the nation’s post–World War II–era national-security policy but rather a realistic distillation of that policy tailored to the challenges the nation faces today.
However, in a break from his post–Cold War predecessors, President Trump readily announces that the United States is presently in a great-power competition and names the nation’s prime competitors as Russia and China. While appeals to American values remain, and in fact are strongly stated, it is the promotion of American interests that emerges most starkly. The president states that he plans to compete aggressively in the economic sphere by pursuing free, fair, and reciprocal trade on a bilateral basis while also confronting nations that violate the free-trade agreements signed in the past. Additionally, the new NSS breaks from the language of the Obama administration by overtly promoting American exceptionalism and presenting the United States as a force for good in the world. As such, the new NSS emerges as a true amalgam of Theodore Roosevelt’s warrior approach to the world and Woodrow Wilson’s attempt to be its priest.
From the perspective of pure defense analysis, President Trump and McMaster, his national-security adviser, have taken a new path. Rather than continue to pursue a pure capabilities-overmatch acquisitions strategy within the Department of Defense, the Trump NSS seeks a balance between capabilities and capacity by continuing to invest in cutting-edge technologies while also expanding the force and improving readiness. It seeks to accomplish this by investing in high-end, cutting-edge combat systems to win wars while also providing for larger numbers of personnel and buying cheaper legacy combat systems to maintain the peace. Clearly, President Trump’s commitment to a 355-ship Navy falls within this approach. The president also firmly commits the nation to recapitalizing the nation’s nuclear-deterrent force and renewing all three legs of the nuclear triad. This strategy is enabled by the president’s call for increased defense spending, a goal that is shared by Armed Services Committee members in both the House and the Senate.
By Andrew C McCarthy • National Review
The thing to bear in mind is that the White House does not do investigations. Not criminal investigations, not intelligence investigations.
Why is that so important in the context of explosive revelations that Susan Rice, President Obama’s national-security adviser, confidant, and chief dissembler, called for the “unmasking” of Trump campaign and transition officials whose identities and communications were captured in the collection of U.S. intelligence on foreign targets? Continue reading
by Mackubin Owens • American Greatness
President Trump’s selection of Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster to be his national security adviser has been widely praised, and rightly so. McMaster is a remarkable man cut from the same cloth as the new secretary of defense, Jim Mattis. Both are inspirational leaders. Both are thoughtful, well-read “soldier-scholars.” Both are clear thinkers and straight talkers. Indeed, McMaster’s intense, fierce outspokenness has not always endeared him to his superiors.
McMaster’s story has been recounted many times in recent days. A native of Philadelphia, he is a 1984 graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point. Later, he earned a PhD in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, studying under Richard Kohn, the eminent military historian and civil-military relations expert. His doctoral dissertation became Dereliction of Duty, a withering critique of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Vietnam War.
As a captain commanding an armored cavalry troop during the first Gulf War, McMaster proved himself to be an aggressive, fearless leader. Continue reading
by Russ Read • Daily Caller
Officials were found to be using what is commonly referred to as the “low-side” system to correspond with the Central Intelligence Agency regarding State Department approval of drone strikes from 2011 to 2012. Clinton’s aides forwarded some of these emails to her personal email and routed to her unsecured private server.
The revelation came during a briefing of congressional and law-enforcement officials regarding the ongoing FBI probe into Clinton’s server. The officials said that discussions on the drone program should have been conducted over a system designed to handle classified information, the “high side.” Continue reading
by Steve Guest • Daily Caller
In an interview with Hugh Hewitt on Thursday, the former CIA director said “the Pentagon acknowledges that they get attacked about 100,000 times a day.”
Hewitt asked Gates, “[A]re you surprised by the news that continues to come out about the former Secretary of State’s server and the fact that the intelligence community’s inspector general has said there was a lot of very highly classified information on her server?”
“Yeah, that’s a concern for me,” Gates said. “I never used email when I was head of CIA or head of the Department of Defense. Continue reading
by Stephen F. Hayes • Weekly Standard
One of the most memorable moments from the first Democratic presidential debate was an unexpected one. Bernie Sanders, the Democratic-socialist senator from Vermont who is leading the polls in New Hampshire, took a question about the email scandal that has badly complicated Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Rather than use it as a truncheon to hurt his primary opponent, Sanders took the occasion to defend her.
“Let me say something that may not be great politics. But I think the secretary is right,” Sanders bellowed, turning to address Clinton. “And that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!”
It was a good debate moment. Clinton was overjoyed at Sanders’s magnanimity. Sanders was pleased with himself. The crowd of Democrats in the hall erupted in wild applause. So did some journalists gathered to cover the debate. Continue reading
Director of Texas Department of Public Safety says individuals have been captured from countries known to have a “terrorism presence”
by Adan Salazar • Info Wars
Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, which supervises the Texas Highway Patrol and State Troopers, warned Sunday at an annual Texas Border Coalition meeting that vulnerabilities at the southern border may leave Americans open to a possible terrorist attack.
“[I]ndividuals that come across the Texas/Mexican border from countries with a known terrorism presence and the answer to that is yes,” McCraw stated over the weekend when asked if any suspected ISIS terrorists had yet infiltrated the border.
“We have individuals that we’ve needed to debrief in Pashto/Dari,” the director said, referring to two languages spoken in Afghanistan. “Not a lot of Pashto and Dari speakers around.” Continue reading
Obama admin sides with Palestinians in landmark terror case
by Adam Kredo • Washington Free Beacon
The Obama administration has intervened in a landmark legal case brought by the American victims of Palestinian terrorists, urging the court to limit restitution for the victims out of fear that a sizable payout could collapse the Palestinian government, according to a copy of the court filing.
Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken argued in a filing to a New York City court that a hefty payout to the victims of Palestinian terror crimes could burden the Palestinian Authority (PA) and interfere in Obama administration efforts to foster peace in the region.
The victims are entitled to as much as $655 million from the PA following the conclusion of a decade-long lawsuit that exposed the Palestinian government’s role in supporting and paying for terror attacks in Israel. Continue reading
by Bill Gertz • Washington Free Beacon
Russia conducted a flight test of a new intercontinental ballistic missile earlier this month that some U.S. officials and security analysts say is a new violation of Moscow’s arms control treaty commitments.
The March 18 flight test of a new RS-26 missile is part of a large-scale nuclear arms buildup by Russia and is raising concerns about treaty compliance, said U.S. officials familiar with details of the missile test.
The RS-26 missile carried a dummy warhead from Russia’s Kapustin Yar missile facility, located about 80 miles south of Volgograd in southern Russia, to an impact range at Sary Shagan in Kazakhstan.
The distance between the launch facility and the impact area is approximately 1,248 miles, far less than the threshold of 3,417 miles required by the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Continue reading