The long overdue actions taken by the European Parliament on September 12, 2018, and by the United States Senate through Resolution 30 of January 25, 2019, authored by Senators Feinstein, Durbin and Murphy, condemn in no uncertain terms the Viktor Orban led government’s dismantling of Hungary’s fledgling democracy. Based on the Sargentini Report, the European Union charged the Hungarian government with political as well as economic and financial corruption. Pursuant to this Report, since 2010, Hungary has increasingly become a rogue state. Actually, Hungary has been taken over by political gangsters, headed by the Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, who have shamelessly robbed the Hungarian people blind. Democracy has been replaced by “illiberal democracy”, meaning the personal cult of Viktor Orban. The Alliance of Young Democrats (Hungarian acronyms: FIDESZ) dominated Parliament passed a new constitution which was already amended seven times to accommodate the changing needs of the Prime Minister and his accomplices. This new constitution has curtailed the independence of the judiciary, has made a mockery of the freedom of expression, the freedom of religion, the freedom of association, the right of equal treatment, the right of minorities, and has practically abolished the main economic and social rights. Continue reading
By Bill Gertz • Washington Free Beacon
Russia has deployed a suspicious satellite the United States says is part of Moscow’s plans to attack orbiting satellites in a future conflict, a State Department official revealed in Geneva on Tuesday.
Yleem Poblete, assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification, and compliance, made the accusation in a speech declaring Moscow is promoting a draft treaty aimed at banning arms in space while advancing an array of space weaponry.
Russia in October conducted tests of a “space apparatus inspector” that was detected by U.S. intelligence maneuvering and taking other unusual actions in space.
“Its behavior on-orbit was inconsistent with anything seen before from on-orbit inspection or space situational awareness capabilities, including other Russian inspection satellite activities,” Poblete stated during a session of the U.N. Conference on Disarmament.
“We are concerned with what appears to be very abnormal behavior by a declared ‘space apparatus inspector.'” She did not elaborate on the suspect activities.
With the exception of an infinitesimal number of individuals and media outlets, the hate filled, asymmetrical political warfare against President Trump is continuing with unwavering vehemence. The latest fuel on the seemingly eternal fire of the anti-Trump resistance was supplied by his trip to Europe and, in particular by his meeting with the Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland.
As a prelude to President Trump’s visit to Brussels, London, and Helsinki, the usual pack of anti-Trump Democrats, Obama appointees and their allies in the highly politicized media started a full throated campaign against the Putin meeting. The narrative was as primitive as idiotic. Accordingly, President Putin was declared a superman, the embodiment of the most perfect statesman in human history, while President Trump was depicted as a bumbling amateur who will be consumed by Putin the master spy within minutes. Indeed, they demanded in unison that President Trump cancel the meeting all together or, at least, be surrounded by an army of advisors. Clearly, all of sudden there were millions of little presidents who felt empowered to render their authoritative opinions on the most complex foreign policy matters.
Of course, President Trump ignored their advice. Conversely, the irrational politics of hatred continued unabated. Since Helsinki, this has centers around President Trump’s answers to Jeff Mason’s and Jonathan Levine’s questions, in which the President appeared to side with President Putin and not with the assessment of the US intelligence agencies concerning the so-called “Russian Interference” in the 2016 elections. The Reuters correspondent’s question originally was directed at President Putin. In essence Mason challenged the Russian President by asking why should the Americans and President Trump believe his statement that Russia did not interfere in the election, given the evidence the US intelligence agencies provided. President Trump’s answer was more complex than reported in the media. “….the concept of that (namely interference) came up perhaps a little before, but it came out as a reason why the Democrats lost an election….” He continued by saying: “….there was no collusion with the campaign….” Jonathan Levine of AP followed up with a more direct and clearly provocative question: “Just now President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every US intelligence agency concluded that Putin did. My first question for you, sir, who do you believe? My second question is would you now with the whole world watching tell President Putin – would you denounce what happened in 2016 and would you warn him to never do it again?”
In his reply President Trump first addressed the issue of the Democratic National Committee’s server. Rightly, he pointed out that the Committee’s refusal to hand over the server to the FBI for inspection is inexplicable. Most probably, the examination of the server would have supplied important documentary evidence as to who was responsible for the hacking. Moreover, it would have provided the FBI with a true record about what really happened. Barring excess for the FBI clearly meant that the Committee had something to hide or, in the alternative, the results of its examination of the server failed to conform to the narrative of the rigged elections. Then President Trump continued thus: “I have Mr. Putin. He just said it is not Russia. I will say this. I don’t see any reason why it would be, but I really want to see the server.”
As usual, President Trump’s answers were immediately taken out of context and presented as proofs that he is not an American patriot, but a Russian stooge. Never mind that during the 2008 presidential campaign Barack Hussein Obama regaled the attendees and the world in his Berlin speech as being “a citizen of the world”, while his better half opined about being proud of America only because her husband was elected president.
But more importantly, President Trump’s answers must be viewed within the framework of his opening remarks at the press conference. There he said: “As president, I cannot make decisions on foreign policy in a futile effort to appease partisan critics or the media or Democrats who want to do nothing but resist and obstruct. Constructive dialogue between the United States and Russia forwards the opportunity to open new pathways toward peace and stability in our world. I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace than to risk peace in pursuit of politics. As president, I always put what is best for America and what is best for the American people.” Then he went on to say that he thought the best way to discuss interference and related issues is in person with Mr. Putin, which he did.
Placing his answers to the correspondents’ questions in the context of his opening remarks make it abundantly clear that President Trump behaved as a statesman, while his critics took a very narrow tactical approach to US-Russia relations. As president, he had to focus on the big picture, which is the overall strategic relationship with Russia, and leave the other related matters to future negotiations. Once agreement is reached on the nature of the strategic relationship and a measure of trust has been established between the two states, most, if not all, the outstanding matters can be discussed and hopefully solved within the framework of such a strategic understanding.
To place the entire anti-Trump mania into an even broader context, the United States of America has been since November 2016, in a rapidly worsening democratic anarchy. For this reason alone, the American citizenry cannot remain indifferent to what is happening to the constitutional Republic. Moreover, it would be a grave misconception to suppose that if this democratic anarchy is allowed to fester unchecked, the already chaotic situation abroad would not be affected. On the contrary. The vicissitudes that the world has suffered since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the emergence of the People’s Republic of China as a formidable military, economic, and financial power, and the unrelenting invasion of the developed world by the army of desperate migrants, compel the United States of America to assume once again the leadership role for the rest of the world.
Leadership, in turn, means that the president and the congressional leaders must not dwell exclusively on the past but deal in a bipartisan manner with the challenges of the present and their repercussions for the future, unless those challenges will remain unresolved. More importantly, no one should search for artificial causes to seize and maintain power. Rather, policymakers must look for solutions to remedy as many problems as they possible can across the globe. Clearly, this is not the time for hesitation, vacillation, oscillation, and sanctimonious speeches that are not followed by decisive actions. Indeed, every responsible politician in Washington, D.C. must defend the interests of the United States of America and that of its allies throughout the world.
Presently, President Trump appears to be the only adult in the playground sandbox. Sitting down with his Russian counterpart is not treason. Neither is it collusion, nor is it interference. It is diplomacy that allows two heads of states to explore common interests. Common interests, in turn, will enable them to communicate and hopefully reach compromises peacefully on major and lesser challenges too. Among those challenges the overall situation in the greater Middle East is the most explosive. Within the Middle East, the Syrian problem has the most potential to trigger a regional war. Information available of the two hour private meeting and the follow-up lunch in Helsinki indicate that a broad agreement on the principles of de escalating the conflict has been reached. Accordingly, both presidents have agreed that the security of Israel is paramount. Secondly, they have been in agreement concerning the destructive role of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Syria, in Lebanon, in the Gaza Strip, in Yemen, in Libya, and beyond. To counter the Mullahcracy’s appetite for steady expansion, the two presidents have resolved to limit Iranian military presence and political influence in Syria. Thirdly, the fate of the Assad family remains on the table. Finally, if provoked, Israel will have a free hand militarily to retaliate in a proportional manner.
As far as Islamic terrorism is concerned, Russia is exposed to it more closely than the United States of America or Europe. Clearly, President Putin is not averse to reach an agreement on this topic.
The Ukraine is not just a political and strategic question for Russia, but also a historical and emotional one. After all, the cradle of today’s Russia was the Kiev Russ in the 9th and 10th centuries. For the United States of America, the Ukraine has been a sovereign country since the late 1990, the boundaries of which have been violated by Russia continuously since the overthrow of the late President Viktor Yanukovych. On this issue, an agreement that would satisfy all the parties involved will need more time and negotiations. For now, the objective should be to arrest the conflict that will provide for the restoration of domestic tranquility. As a first step in this direction, the United States of America should push for the quick conclusion of a permanent armistice between the opposing forces.
Russia’s relations with the rest of Europe, in particular the European Union are multifaceted and thus are more complex. Again, it is important not to rash to premature judgments, and allow time for all the parties involved to find a modus vivendi among the conflicting political positions and interests. The principle of non-intervention in the affairs of all parties must be made sufficiently plain. The continent needs a new equilibrium through additional treaties to show that the Russian Federation will adhere to its responsibilities, in order to provide neither reason nor pretext for military conflicts in the future.
In closing, President Trump is absolutely right to pursue good relations with President Putin. Only through continuous dialogue between these two preeminent nuclear powers could the maintenance of universal peace guaranteed.
It is virtually impossible to have a sane, temperate conversation about President Donald J. Trump and what the Russians might or might not have done to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. From the corner bar to the White House briefing room, folks have their heels dug in and aren’t budging, with each side passionately determined to prove the other wrong.
Most Republicans—except the ones who somehow manage to show up on the news chat shows with astonishing regularity—seem to regard the whole business as a tempest in a teapot at best, and at worst, a Machiavellian effort undertaken by entrenched liberals inside the U.S. government to remove Trump from office.
Democrats, meanwhile, mainly think that Trump and the Russians conspired to steal the presidency from Hillary Clinton. How could she have possibly lost the election otherwise? Continue reading
By Richard M. Ebeling • Foundation for Economic Education
In August of 1993, I was invited to participate in a conference in Vilnius, Lithuania on “Liberty and Private Business.” This was less than two years after the formal disappearance of the Soviet Union as a political entity on the map of the world.
During our time there, my wife and I were offered the opportunity to be given a tour of the building that had served as the headquarters of the local KGB, the infamous Soviet secret police. Our guide was a man who had been a prisoner in its walls in the late 1950s. The most nightmarish part of the tour was the basement containing the prison cells and the interrogation rooms.
Going Through Hell at the Hands of the KGB
As we reached the bottom Continue reading
Nobody can ever wholly escape the mixture of positive and negative influences of his or her times and country. Neither are politicians across the globe exempt from the deeply ingrained ethical, cultural, and intellectual foibles and prejudices of their respective societies. Accordingly, trust among political leaders of all ages and places has always been either non-existent or of short supply. This dearth of trust, fundamentally rooted in a mutual failure to comprehend the other nation’s mentality, has characterized the over two centuries old history of US-Russia relations too. Avoiding the temptation of expanding on this history, suffice it to state that as Russian domestic and foreign policies could not be understood by the pragmatic, result oriented American mind, so has been the emotional mindset of the Russians mostly incapable to objectively judge the domestic and foreign policies of the United States of America.
The “Cold War” ended with several agreements between the two states. At the Malta summit in December 1989, then President George H. W. Bush assured Mikhail Gorbachev that the United States of America will not take advantage of the unfolding events in Central and Eastern Europe. The same assurance was echoed by then Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher of the Federal Republic of Germany on January 31, 1990, in the Bavarian town of Tutzing. Less than a month later, Continue reading
by Bill Gertz • Washington Free Beacon
The Trump administration on Thursday imposed economic sanctions on 19 Russians and two Russian intelligence agencies for their role in the 2016 election meddling and costly cyber attacks and penetrations.
The Russian spy agencies included the Federal Security Service and the GRU military intelligence service, along with six GRU officers.
No FSB officers were named in the Treasury Department list of sanctioned Russians, although 13 Russians indicted last month in a separate action, were named.
The Russians are linked to the Internet Research Agency, a St. Petersburg operation that used social media to interfere with the presidential election.
Government officials did not say whether the Internet Research Agency was a front organization for the Russian government.
Officials also revealed that Russian cyber actors conducted reconnaissance into industrial control systems related to the U.S. electrical grid in a bid to obtain sensitive information that could be used in future attacks aimed at shutting down power networks. Continue reading
By Bill Gertz • Washington Free Beacon
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in language suggesting the start of a new Cold War, revealed Russia is building nuclear-powered cruise missiles, drone submarines, and other strategic arms designed to attack the United States.
During an annual address, the Russian leader boasted the new cruise missile was tested in December and utilizes small nuclear reactor technology recently developed by Russian weapons designers.
Videos shown during the speech showed a model of the new missile and other high-tech arms, including one that simulated a Russian nuclear strike on the United States. Continue reading
The news is replete of reports of Russia developing new missile systems, escalating a war in Ukraine, selling missile technology to Iran, and intercepting US jets in provocative ways. In this perilous environment, it is easy to see the folly and danger of dealing with these serious risks by unilaterally disarming. The behavior of Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and organizations like ISIS make it obvious that unilateral disarmament only invites more bad behavior and puts America at risk.
This important lesson applies to the economic world as well. International trade is an important economic engine for American jobs and American prosperity. But most nations heavily subsidize their own industries to make their products cheaper and more appealing in the international marketplace. That harms American jobs and stifles American prosperity. In this environment, economic unilateral disarmament makes no sense.
Yet, that is precisely what some assert we should do when they argue we should abolish the Export-Import Bank. Continue reading
by Bill Gertz • Washington Free Beacon
The United States faces a growing threat of ballistic and cruise missiles from China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, according to a military intelligence report.
“Ballistic and cruise missiles present a significant threat to U.S. and allied forces overseas, and to the United States and its territories,” states the latest report by the National Air and Space Intelligence Center in Ohio.
The report warns that both China and Russia are expanding their force of strategic nuclear missiles with new multi-warhead weapons.
North Korea now has three intercontinental-range missiles and is moving ahead with a submarine-launched ballistic missile. Continue reading
By Adam Kredo • Washington Free Beacon
Iran and Russia are moving closer together in their military alliance, working to boost ties and coordination in Syria and elsewhere in the region following the U.S. decision to launch a military strike in Syria, according to regional reports and experts.
Iran’s defense minister is slated to visit Moscow at the end of the month to discuss increased military ties, a move that is meant to deter U.S. action in the region and show a sign of increased force, according to regional experts who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.
The Tehran-Moscow axis has been growing since the landmark Iran nuclear deal, with Russia making good on a series of weapons deliveries, including the Russian-made S-300 missile defense system. The two countries have been signing an additional number of military deals in recent months and that cooperation is likely to increase in light of the Trump administration’s decision to launch strikes against embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is being backed by both Russia and Iran. Continue reading
by Natalie Johnson • Washington Free Beacon
U.S. adversaries are rapidly catching up to America’s fifth generation fighter aircraft capabilities—a risk that has exacerbated given ongoing cyber vulnerabilities in the F-35 fighter jet program, according to an Air Force major general.
Maj. Gen. Jerry Harris Jr., the vice commander of Air Combat Command at the Langley, Va., base, said Thursday that while the United States maintains an advantage in the stealth and weapons capacities inherent in fifth generation fighter aircraft models, adversaries are “quickly closing the gap.”
“We are trying to maximize our ability to procure fifth generation airplanes and go from a 100 percent fourth generation fleet to a significant mix of fifth generation [planes] so that we have the opportunity to operate in these hostile environments against these threats that are catching us faster than we thought they would,” Harris testified before the House Armed Services Committee. Continue reading
by Bill Gertz • Washington Free Beacon
Four Russian military aircraft conducted low passes against a U.S. destroyer in the Black Sea last week, the first such military provocation since the new Trump administration took office.
The incident took place Feb. 10 and involved the USS Porter, a guided missile destroyer, fending off low flights by what the commander of the ship regarded as potentially dangerous flybys.
“There were several incidents involving multiple Russian aircraft,” said Navy Capt. Danny Hernandez, spokesman for the European Command. “They were assessed by the commanding officer as unsafe and unprofessional.”
The first buzzing involved two Russian Su-24 jet fighters followed by a single Su-24 and, in a third incident, an IL-38 transport aircraft. Continue reading
by Morgan Chalfant • Daily Caller
The U.S. Army’s ground combat systems risk being surpassed by those being developed by foreign countries such as Russia and China, according to a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.
The Army is currently using main battle tanks, tracked infantry fighting vehicles, tracked self-propelled artillery, and multiple launch rocket systems developed during the Soviet era. Billion-dollar plans to modernize the force’s ground combat systems have been cancelled over the last decade.
Meanwhile, potential adversaries have prioritized funding new weapons systems and technologies for their forces, raising concerns among American experts about the shrinking capability gap between the United States and other nations. 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